Friday, January 24, 2014

Two Big Circles in China

In a post on The Guardian's "Architecture and Design Blog", Oliver Wainwright took a look at "Architecture's trend for cutting holes in buildings". Of the 9 examples he shared, I've seen two in person--both in China. One is Shanghai's World Financial Center. The other is the Guangzhou Circle, which I happened to notice while looking out of a window last November on the second leg of high-speed rail trip from Zhuhai to Changsha. Here's Wainwright's description of the building:
As if a giant cable reel had rolled into town and come to rest on the banks of the Pearl River, the newly completed Guangzhou Circle towers 138m above southern China's largest city like a great copper spool. Housing the world's largest stock exchange for raw plastic material, it is the work of Italian architect Joseph di Pasquale, who says the form “will be immediately perceived as a native Chinese landmark.” Because it's big and brash and dressed in a spangly Christmas jumper? Maybe, but also because it is “inspired by the strong iconic value of jade discs and numerological tradition of feng shui.” How so? Because not only does the 50m-wide hole punched through the centre make it look like an ancient Chinese coin, but when the building is reflected in the river it forms the lucky number eight. And an infinity symbol. And the insignia of ancient dynasty that reigned in this area 2,000 years ago.
And here is a cropped version of a photo I took from a train:

Far away view of the Guangzhou Circle from a passing high-speed train

The Guangzhou Circle is off in the distance on the left side of the white pole. Even though it was far away and I wasn't expecting to see it, my eyes were drawn to its unusual shape and color. It reminded me of another building, also based on ancient Chinese coins, in Shenyang. When I arrived in Shenyang over 3 years ago, the Fang Yuan Building was one of the first buildings I saw after leaving the bus station. I had seen photos of it before, but seeing it in person was ... special. I passed much closer to it than the Guangzhou Circle:

Fang Yuan Building in Shenyang

Alas, it couldn't have made Wainwright's post since the square center is not a hole. I hope they put the square to good use.

See Wainwright's post here for a closer view of the Guangzhou Circle and to see his other eight selections. The one I'd be most interested to visit is the proposed TEK Center in Taiwan. In the meantime, maybe I should return to the Fang Yuan Building to see what's inside the square section.

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