Beijing: Transforming an Old Capital into a City of the Future

22 02 2008

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Since Beijing won the bid for the 2008 Olympic back in 2001, the city has been undergoing a massive makeover in a bid to amaze the tens of thousands of visitors for the Olympic games. How did they go about doing this? By building amazing, cutting edge architecture that no other place (perhaps, excluding Dubai) would risk building.


Four projects stand out among the rest, creating buzz around the world. These are the Bird’s Nest, the Water Cube, the National Theater, and the CCTV headquarters. These four buildings were featured in a Discovery channel documentary on Beijing’s preparations for the 2008 Olympics.

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The Bird’s Nest was the winner of a design contest for the Olympic Stadium designed by Herzog & de Meuron. Very radical design for a stadium, but for some reason I’m not as amazed by it as other people. Perhaps when I see it finished, my opinion will change.

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The National Grand Theater in Beijing is designed by French architect, Paul Andreu. I really love this building. Who would’ve thought that something as simple as an oval dome would be so beautiful? Maybe it’s the shiny titanium skin or the glassy facade, or perhaps the reflective lake that surrounds the building. It’s a brilliant design, but many people in Beijing have criticized it for looking out of place within the Tienanmen Square, where it is surrounded by historical buildings such as the Forbidden City and government buildings. I think it’s nicely juxtaposed between those old buildings, and to me it shows that China is progressing nicely into the 21st Century.

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With the Olympics only about 6 months away, many of these buildings are close to completion. The Watercube was completed a while ago and it’s going through trial runs. This is another piece of brilliant design. In the videos above, you will see how the design came to be. The completed Water Cube actually looks better in real life than in the renders.

More pictures of the Water Cube.

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 Last, but not least, is the CCTV Headquarters. The amazing looping building is designed by Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren. Although it looks like an impossible building, it was designed by employing sort of an illusion as the support of the building stands vertically, while the “skin” of the building bends away from it. Eh, I’m not sure if I’m describing it right. Just watch the video. :)

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