CCTV Tower in Beijing: Modern Chinese Icon

john  —  December 5, 2012

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