Why China’s President Says “No More Weird Buildings”


By Rory Stott
October 21, 2014, Arch Daily

The President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, has reportedly called for a end to the “weird buildings” being built in China, and particularly in the nation’s capital, Beijing. In a two hour speech at a literary symposium in Beijing last week, Mr Xi expressed his views that art should serve the people and be morally inspiring, identifying architectural projects such as OMA’s CCTV Headquarters as the kind of building that should no longer be constructed in Beijing.

With China’s construction boom being one of the most talked about features of today’s architecture scene – and many a Western practice relying on their extravagant projects to prop up their studios – the Chinese leader’s comments have the potential to affect the landscape of architectural practice worldwide. But what is behind these sentiments? Read on after the break to find out.

Perhaps the most simple reading of Mr Xi’s pronouncement on architecture is that it is an extension of his mission to crack down on corruption and extravagance within the Chinese Government, having removed 51 officials from government as of August. Though high-profile and popular with the international press, CCTV Headquarters has been criticized for being a number of years late to complete (it was originally intended to be open for the 2008 Olympics), and has been nicknamed “Big Pants,” by locals thanks to its unusual shape.

In particular his statement that art should “inspire minds, warm hearts, cultivate taste and clean up undesirable work styles” seems to link art with moral purity, and it is this kind of attention-grabbing extravagance that Mr Xi perhaps wants to avoid, particularly in state-owned buildings such as CCTV. Read more…

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