Last saturday there was quite a storm going through (architectural)Beijing as Zaha appeared for the opening of her first building in China's capital city. Busses full of local students mingled with other architecture fanatics to get a first official glimpse of the cities newest archi-gem. The building was not yet occupied, so this was a sort of 'soft-opening', perhaps to enjoy the architecture before it was being cluttered by ugly shop fronts and advertising?
The building is about 400,000m2, situated in the last remaining prime-plot in Beijing, next to 2nd ring road and subway station 'Chaoyangmen. First things first; I must admit.. I had never seen so many fluorescent lights in an office building.
Patrick Schumacher was later saying that the spaces would be filled with 'all kind of young, small and creative new retail and office initiatives', does that include Prada, Miu-Miu, Gucci, Chanel as well?!
The interiors were all white and curvy..
Overall, not bad at all. Reminded me of some of Jon Jerde's shopping malls (like the ones in Japan).
Ah, and yes. Zaha was there too. In the center, as she likes it..
Ah yea, and there were a few hundred other people as well as you can see. The dress code was 'creative and futuristic' by the way.. well.
Zaha makes quite some visits to the city actually, joining for the Pritzker Prize Forum at Tsinghua University last spring for instance; but her last real public lecture was two years ago at the same site (while the building was only just concrete). ZHA are also doing various other projects in Beijing, some of them were on display; and they are also one of two remaining teams for the new Beijing Airport (largest in the world -of course-, other team being Roger's, who have an exhibition running at Beijing's Capital Museum currently).
One of the other projects at display was Wangjing Soho, see model pic below. Tallest building is about 200m tall, the longest building is 200m long.. They're already 17 floors up; situated in north-west Beijing.
As part of the opening there was a series of events; including a 'Tunnel of Creativity' (just a slide show in one of the corridors), a conversation with Zaha Hadid and SoHo CEO Zhang Xin, the projects display, but also a series of Pecha Kucha talks. I guess Patrick Schumacher wasn't allowed to sit in for the big talk; so he ended up giving a 20-slide 6min. talk about the new sublime in architecture by showing the ideas and concepts behind the SoHo Galaxy Project (Check his coat.. ):
The interesting thing with the SoHo group is that they sell everything before construction starts. Which is quite amazing for this size of buildings, and keep in mind they already have a dozen of similar developments finished in Beijing, by Kengo Kuma and Riken Yamamoto for instance.. (or still under way); now expanding to Shanghai (also Zaha designed). The program consists of 3-4 floors of retail, topped by offices and luxury apartments/ studio's.
A last little note.. I guess all these curves and 'nonlinear new design evolutionary thinking' (paraphrasing Schumacher here) still needs ordinary columns, and that doesn't always work out well.. Like, what you need those for in your office?
On the other hand, Koolhaas would actually like this; a square.. a circular, and a diagonal column! All in one room!
And yes; the ceiling is a little messy too; luckily the lights are cool.
Ah, and of course i guess you can always try to hide the columns behind some curvy plaster..
But, in the end, really not a bad project. Just wondering how white this galaxy will be in one year from now amongst Beijing's smoggy skies...
In the School of Architecture, the English Program for Master Architecture (EPMA) provides an accredited post-professional program in integrated architectural design. It combines a global network with local implementation. The program is focused on the construction of the human habitat in China, and the application of advanced building technologies.