Thursday, July 17, 2008

Building a dream, dismissing the reality

The first and last thing you notice when passing through Beijing international airport is the impressive new terminal (see top picture).

To me it looks like a turtle, although Norman Foster’s design has been likened to a dragon and meant to represent two boomerangs placed side by side.

The International Herald Tribune said on Monday that China’s “fierce embrace of change has left Western nations in the dust”. It is indeed true that the exciting new architecture in Beijing has boomeranged the city into a creative space that bypasses anything that is being done elsewhere.

Besides the airport terminal there is also Paul Andreau’s egg-like National Theatre as well as the CCTV headquarters by Rem Koolhaas which the International Herald Tribune places “amongst the most imaginative architectural feats in recent memory”. With this building Koolhaas plays with the perception of scale, as it looks small from certain angles and gigantic from others.

Then, of course there is the Olympic stadium (see bottom picture) which is the brainchild of Jacques Hertzog and Pierre de Meuron. The elliptical shape resembles a bird’s nest and is a symbol of hope. It’s barely visible through the smog, perhaps a suitable expression of the dream that is the Olympics.

This stadium and the National Aquatics centre, which looks like an oversized cloud-cushion, has been given an honorary place on the ceremonial axis of Beijing which extends from the Forbidden City. This makes the Olympic village part of a selection of ancient and modern buildings that define Beijing.

Yet, in spite of all the historical and the visionary architecture, Reuters reported last week that although five star hotels are 77 percent booked, four star hotels are only 48 percent full. The lower cost hotels are looking even emptier for the Olympics, which starts early next month.

The reason for the lack of tourists are said to be “tight security, difficulties obtaining visas and terrorism warnings”.

“And why should they come?” says a fellow traveller, Alex, “China has no respect for their national resources, condemns the holy man who speaks of world peace and has no problem with letting their citizens eat tainted food. I don’t care what they build, I would rather spend my money somewhere else.”


Anonymous said...

Dragon? No, you're right... it's deffo a turtle.


Anonymous said...

poems for lize

If you don’t travel

I always marvel
Whenever I travel

Because if you don’t travel
And extensively explore
How can you open those awaiting doors?
Mysteries always lie waiting to be unraveled

I travel with my eyes
Watching those silently cry
Asking themselves the question why
Someone left them without saying goodbye

I travel with my thoughts
Abundant knowledge I have found and sought

I travel with my pen
To write about children, women and men

I travel with my voice
Speaking sensibly refusing to induce confusing noise

I travel with hope
Believing something new will spring into my horoscope
Whether in Africa or whether in Europe
There is always room, there is always scope

I travel to many places
Mix with different culture and races
Identify tribes by their faces
Everyone I always embrace

I travel with or without money
So please listen to my testimony
Every experience is worth lifes journey

I travel with intensive faith
Lavishing love rather than being defensive with hate

Because if you don’t travel
How can you grow?
How can you know,
What is beneath the dust and below the gravel?

collected by caro

Anonymous said...

It's a turtle for sure!
CS x

Hanli said...

I wish I could see the world with you, but second prize is seeing it through your eyes. Never stop writing.

Jenny Smith said...

'a suitable expression of the Olympic dream'? I think you're being too kind. How are the athletes supposed to breathe through all that smog? Really bad.