Along with China’s booming economy, record production figures and thriving construction scene, has come one or two unforeseen issues. And it’s not soaring pollution levels, stripped natural resources, or an increase in poverty amongst the poorest regions brought about by the inexorable industrial machine. Everyone knew those things were going to happen and none are surprised.
The problem no one predicted was the madness that has started to afflict the Chinese architectural landscape and has led to the eruption of undoubtedly clever, but also strange and unusual building designs.
It began with the new headquarters for China Central Television, or CCTV, in Beijing. Constructed two years ago, instead of going for height, two similar towers rise from a communal base to lean toward one another, then are topped off with a perpendicular cantilever that stretches between them, turning at a right angle in the middle.
A cutting edge design you might think. Unfortunately, China’s President Xi Jinping clearly has a different take on it, naming the building ‘Big Pants’ on the basis that it resembles a giant pair of trousers bestriding part of the city.
He then criticised the ‘doughnut like’ Guangzhou Circle skyscraper and the ‘Giant pebbles’ that form the Beijing headquarters of real estate development firm, Soho China, before offering the opinion that a pair of bridges in Chongqing, that cross the Yangtze and Jailing rivers, in fact look like ‘female genitalia’
News of the president’s less than elated feelings about the state of modern Chinese architecture comes from the Wall Street Journal translating a story from website of China’s state-run newspaper, The People’s Daily, whose own headquarters – there’s no getting away from it – is shaped like a giant penis (CADagency have decided not to include an image of this building in this article. Google at your own peril, but bear in mind it is slightly NSFW.).
Speaking to some of China’s experts in art, theatre and literature, President Xi called for ‘No more weird architecture’, bemoaned the outlandish designs and pleaded for China’s creative minds ‘not to sacrifice artistic and moral value in favour of commercial gain.’
The president also stated his worries over China’s native style being lost amongst the modern designs appearing thanks to the accelerating growth of the country’s construction industry.
Whether the president also made mention of the Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort, a horseshoe shaped building that rises out of Taihu Lake, or the proposed scale-clad and fish-shaped construction set to be built in Zhuhai, is not clear.