In the first of a series spotlighting contemporary architecture in China we round up 10 of the most significant buildings in Beijing, including works by MAD, Zaha Hadid Architects, OMA and Herzog & de Meuron.
Beijing’s distinctive National Stadium is better known as the Bird’s Nest due to its steel lattice envelope. The 80,000-seater arena was designed by Swiss studio Herzog & de Meuron in collaboration with Chinese artist Ai Weiwei for the 2008 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games.
More recently it hosted the opening and closing ceremonies for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, as well as the accompanying Paralympic Winter Games.
The 120-metre-tall mountainlike glass volumes of Chaoyang Park Plaza were designed by Beijing architecture studio MAD and completed in 2017. The design was intended to reference the lakes, hills and stones depicted in traditional Chinese shan shui scenic paintings.
“Ridges and valleys define the shape of the exterior glass facade as if the natural forces of erosion wore down the tower into a few thin lines,” said MAD.
London-based firm Zaha Hadid Architects designed this 330,000-square-metre retail, office and entertainment complex for real estate megadeveloper China Soho.
Completed in 2012, it is made up of four domed structures fused together by bridges and platforms between curving floor plates, surrounding a series of courtyards.
One of the Beijing skyline’s most recognisable buildings is the irregularly shaped China Central Television (CCTV) Headquarters, designed by Dutch practice OMA, which opened in 2012.
OMA’s famous founder Rem Koolhaas defended the “very serious building” in an interview with Dezeen following Chinese president Xi Jinping’s declaration that he had had enough of “weird architecture”.
Not long after President Xi’s comments, architect Ole Scheeren unveiled his design for the Guardian Art Center, touted as a model for how Chinese architecture can be both contemporary and respectful of history with its small ground-level blocks matching the scale of the hutong courtyard houses traditional in Beijing.
“This is an important statement vis-a-vis architecture in general in China at this point, to not only present the glaring and new, but to find ways to address a sense of historic continuity without falling into historicising,” Scheeren told Dezeen in 2018.
President Xi’s words did not lead to an immediate end of unusually shaped buildings in the Chinese capital, however, as demonstrated by the Phoenix International Media Center, which opened in 2016.
The Beijing Institute of Architectural Design and Un-Forbidden (BIAD UFO), which designed the ring-shaped building as the headquarters of a broadcasting company, compared its twisted form to a Möbius strip.
Another Zaha Hadid project for China Soho, the 45-storey Leezea Soho skyscraper contains the world’s tallest atrium at its centre.
The tower straddles an underground subway service tunnel, leading the architecture studio to divide it into two halves on either side of a 194-metre-high void.
CITIC Tower, more popularly called China Zun, is Beijing’s tallest skyscraper at 528-metres tall, and the fifth-tallest building in China.
Its shape – wider at the top and bottom than in the middle – is supposedly based on the form of a zun, a type of ceremonial vessel dating back to the Bronze Age.
Designed by French architect Paul Andreu, the National Grand Theatre is a huge dome in the middle of a lake next to the Chinese government’s seat of power – the Great Hall of the People.
It houses three theatres inside the huge 149,500 square-metre dome, which is the largest complex of its type in Asia.
The third Zaha Hadid Architects project on this list is the starfish-shaped terminal building at Beijing Daxing International Airport, which was completed in 2019.
Designed alongside airport specialist ADPI, it was intended to be as compact as possible with the check-in island, security desks and retail area all arranged inside the central area.
The top photo is by HG Esch.
Dezeen is on WeChat!
Click here to read the Chinese version of this article on Dezeen’s official WeChat account, where we publish daily architecture and design news and projects in Simplified Chinese.
The post Ten of Beijing's most significant contemporary buildings appeared first on Dezeen.