Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Favourite building of 2007

Photo by Feng Jun / ChinaFotoPress / Getty

Completed only a matter of days ago, this is China's National Theatre. It sits adjacent to the (in)famous Tiananmen Square and is claimed to be the largest performance hall on earth. It has been dubbed the 'pearl' or 'duck egg' because the massive half-oval is reflected in a vast square lake surrounding it. Despite detractors claiming it lacks any Chinese characteristics, this arrangement mirrors that of The Temple of Heaven - a twenty minute walk away. In both, a round part sits atop a square symbolising the ancient Chinese belief that heaven is round and earth is square.

The building by French architect Paul Andreu (also the man behind Heathrow T5) has divided Chinese opinion, but I would guess that most of its critics have only seen it on paper. When I stood by it 3 months ago, before all the lighting had been installed, it was one of those rare occasions when a building moves you. The whole structure seemingly hovers before you like a vast spaceship.

Photo by Will Lion

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