Archives For Arts & Architecture

Red Dinosaurs in Cages

john  —  February 20, 2015
At first glance I knew it wasn’t just any old sculp­ture. Sal­vador Dali’s Ele­fante Cosmico.

At first glance I knew it wasn’t just any old sculp­ture. Sal­vador Dali’s Ele­fante Cosmico.

It’s been a while since we went to the 798 Art Dis­trict in Bei­jing. It’s one of my favourite places to walk around in sum­mer, but wasn’t so good today with tem­per­a­ture around freez­ing. We decided not to stay too long, but a must see for Tanya is always the red dinosaurs in cages. Many of the gal­leries were chang­ing exhi­bi­tions so there wasn’t too much inter­est­ing to see. But I did dis­cover a 1974 sculp­ture by Sal­vador Dali, called Ele­fante Cos­mico, which I had never seen before.

(Blog posted by Ray on January 17, 2015. You can see the original article by following this link to

Phoenix TV Media Centre

john  —  April 27, 2014


Can­thy moved into her new office at Phoenix TV’s new inter­na­tional media cen­tre in Bei­jing at the end of last year. The office looks cool from the out­side and appar­ently part of the build­ing is open to the pub­lic. It located near Chaoyang Park, which is quiet res­i­den­tial area, so it doesn’t have much going on around it. Pre­vi­ously Can­thy worked near Wang­fu­jing, a shop­ping and eat­ing mecca, so there was always some­thing to do at mid­day. She now spends most lunchtimes in the office, but at least its closer to home so she can get home early to play with the kids.

(Blog posted by Ray on April 2, 2014. You can see the original article by following this link to

the Big Egg

john  —  April 13, 2013

National centre for the performaing arts (the Big Egg)


I live across the street (actu­ally two streets) from prob­a­bly the most unique build­ing in China—if not the world. It’s the CCTV Tower, which I’ve been watch­ing with inter­est over the last five years. But when you live so close to it and see it every­day, it looses part of its unique­ness, as it becomes too familiar.

How­ever, I came across an inter­view in Newsweek of Rem Kool­haas, the archi­tect respon­si­ble for the build­ing, which made me want to go back and look at it again in a new light. The arti­cle had some inter­est­ing insights into his life story and some back­ground on the CCTV project. But it was this quote that really stuck in my mind, as he said:

“I would say it’s a build­ing that the Chi­nese could never have thought of but that we [in the West] could never have built.”

I think this sums up quite suc­cinctly the cur­rent state of archi­tec­ture in China. In fact this quote could equally be attrib­uted to a num­ber of build­ings in Bei­jing includ­ing theNational Sta­dium (Bird’s Nest) and the National Cen­tre For Per­form­ing Arts (Birds Egg). Both of these were con­ceived by west­ern archi­tects and built in part­ner­ship with Chi­nese construction. Which is why the world’s best archi­tects, are all work­ing over here. Design­ing iconic struc­tures, which give China some of the most inno­v­a­tive build­ings any­where in the world.

(Blog posted by Ray on November 15, 2012. You can see the original article by following this link to

The Olympic Park is one of the most visited sites in Beijing following 2008 Olympic Games. This site groups together two of the famous Olympic Games places – Bird’s Nest and Water Cube.

2 visits can be done on this site:

• during the day with a visit inside the buildings (fee entrance for Water Cube is 30 RMB and for Bird’s Nest is 50 RMB)

• at night for a walk in the park and around these 2 famous places

I chose for my first visit to go at the end of the day during a week to avoid tourist crowd and above all enjoy the lights which transform the Olympic Park in a magical site…

I was there after my working day and I got from the beginning the feeling that China wanted to build an unforgetable place for the Olympic period : extra-large pedestrian streets, Olympic museum, Souvenir shops and of course the stadium and the swimming-pool.

Night fell then I started to feel the Olympic Games magic. I can imagine the crowd yeld on the Bird’s Nest for Usain Bolt races or the water movement on the Water Cube surface… Amazing!

Hope that the site can stay like today during long years and keep this Olympic fervor…









(Blog posted by Julian. You can see the original article by following this link to Julian, A French Man in Asia)

CCTV & Airport

john  —  February 21, 2012




Olympic Village

john  —  February 21, 2012

In Chinese culture, 8 is the luckiest number. When the 2008 Olympic Games were held in Beijing, China, there was no better day to hold the opening ceremony than August 8th (8/8/08). The Olympic Village is not ironically located on subway line 8 in the northern part of Beijing, which is also easily accessible by bus.

The village consists of two largely iconic buildings, The National Stadium aka The Bird’s Nest and the National Aquatics Center aka The Water Cube both pictured below, as well as other indoor arenas, a plethora of hotels and the Olympic Forest Park.

Since the Olympic games, there have been many questions about the continued use of these facilities and whether or not the Beijing people would use the park. If you visit the village during the evening in spring, summer or autumn you will find the park filled with dancers, kite fliers, photographers, tourists and Beijingers enjoying a family outing. The Water Cube has now been turned into an indoor water park and The Bird’s Nest plays host to various football (soccer) events.

The Olympic Village also hosts a circus during the summer and a snow park over winter. The best time to visit the Olympic Village is at dusk so you can see the facilities lit up.

(Blog  contributed by TheBJReviewer on August 29, 2011. You can see the original article by following this link to TheBJReviewer)

Related photos:

                        The National Aquatics Center. (From NYT)

798 Art Zone

john  —  February 19, 2012

What is the 798 Art Zone?

798 is a thriving and vibrant art and fashion district in Beijing set up in an abandoned military factory complex. 798 hosts galleries, shows and exhibitions from China’s leading artistic personalities and is China’s cutting edge art movement. 798 is the Chinese equivalent of Greenwich Village and SoHo and has attracted visits from presidents, movie stars and royalty.

After you have seen Beijing’s ancient attractions, a trip to 798 will provide an enjoyable and enlightening experience of modern Beijing. 798 has many very cool and chic restaurants and cafes that you can also enjoy during your visit there.


In the early 1950’s the Chinese military was in urgent need of modern electronic equipment that Chinese manufacturing capacity at the time could not supply. To solve this shortage and to help speed up China’s industrialization, Chinese government under Chairman Mao’s leadership set up a joint venture with East Germany.

The joint venture was the 718 Joint Factory that began operation in 1957 on a 500,000 square meter site in the Dashanzi area of Beijing that was farmland at the time. The factory was one of the best in China and employed between 10,000 and 20,000 workers during its operation.

In 1967 the 718 factory was divided into smaller units or factories to improve management. Those factories were 706, 707, 751, 761, 797 and 798. Factory 798 was the largest of the smaller factories.

During Deng Xiao Ping’s reforms during the 1980’s, 718 was cut off from government support and forced to become competitive. Unable to survive, 718 declined in the 1990’s and the smaller factories were gradually closed down and buildings left vacant.

At this time Beijing’s contemporary and modern art community was loosely based in Tongzhou district which was over an hour’s drive from the center of Beijing. Starting in 1995 various prominent artist left Tongzhou and set up work shops, studios and galleries in Factory 798 and 718’s other abandoned factory buildings


There are many studios, shops, galleries, exhibitions, centers, works of art and places of interest in 798 and wandering around 798 visiting these venues is enjoyable, thought provoking and sometimes a little disturbing. There are too many venues too describe so I have included below descriptions and photos the ones I found most outstanding during my recent visit.

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