WAN Jobs
News Review
WAN Urban Challenge
WAN Awards
Previous Next

Beijing bust up, Beijing, United Kingdom

Wednesday 12 Mar 2008

Clash of the titans

Beijing bust up by WAN Editorial in Beijing, United Kingdom
Your comments on this project

No. of Comments: 0

Add comments | More comments

Be the first to comment

Herzog de Meuron fight back over Beijing 

Have your say - VOTE IN WAN POLL

Two of the world’s most iconic names clashed this week over how to deal with China. Steven Spielberg’s dramatic “pull out” of the Olympic Games because of China’s involvement in Darfur has sparked a backlash from the Swiss firm who designed the main stadium.

In an interview with the London Times today, the architects argue that they can help change China and that their building will embody radical ideas such as freedom. “It's very cheap and easy for architects and artists and film-makers to pull out or to make this kind of criticism,” Herzog says. “Everybody knows what happens in China. All work conditions in China are not what you'd desire. But you wear a pullover made in China. It's easy to criticise, being far away. I'm tempted almost to say the opposite...How great it was to work in China and how much I believe that doing the stadium [and] the process of opening will change radically, transform, the society. Engagement is the best way of moving in the right direction.”

They hope that the biggest single symbol of the West's engagement in China - their stadium - might be, if not a Trojan horse, then a building that embodies and moves forward loose but, in China, radical ideas, such as freedom. The very architecture - an open basket or “bird's nest” of girders in which visitors can choose their own, random paths, is pointedly designed. “We wanted to do something not hierarchical, to make not a big gesture as you'd expect in a political system like that,” de Meuron says, “but [something that for] 100,000 people [is still] on a human scale, without being oppressive. It's about disorder and order, apparent disorder. It seems random, chaotic, but there's a very clear structural rationale.”

However, the timing of Spielberg’s protest clearly hit a raw nerve and may have triggered change. China’s sensitivity to negative PR at this stage may have forced it to address this issue and to move into a more conciliatory mode. This week, China has demanded that the Sudanese government do more to end the bloodshed in Darfur in its most dramatic reaction yet to Steven Spielberg’s decision to pull out of the Beijing Olympics.

In an unusually long press conference, Beijing’s special envoy to Africa, Liu Guijin, claimed that China’s position on Darfur was "fundamentally the same" as that of Western governments. Despite his government’s record of support for Khartoum, he accepted that what was happening in Darfur was a "humanitarian disaster" that had "forced millions from their homes and, in particular, claimed the lives of tens of thousands". In a rare admission, he said his appointment was a sign that China had been affected by western pressure.

Have your say - VOTE IN WAN POLL

Key Facts

Status onsite
Value 0(m€)
WAN Editorial

More projects by this architect

Tech Spot #111 Climate Tile

Genoa bridge collapse

Bridge collapse

Festival collapse

Lost 20th century buildings illustrations

More Projects

Reinventing Cities

Click here to view the NEWS IN PICTURES tablet site