Following up on the first part of our Beijing snapshots series, we look at the present state of the city’s Central Business District and zoom in on the Guanghualu SOHO-project. Initially said to be a collaboration between the Danish architect Søren Korsgaard and Chinese architect Qingyun Ma, the project was developed by the Beijing real-estate tycoons Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin, chief executives of SOHO China. In today’s communication about the project, see Guanghualu SOHO-website, no mentioning of the Danish architect can be found, although his website shows some early sketches, models, plans and proposals.
Some background to the past, present and future ambitions of Beijing’s biggest real-estate developers can be read in “SOHO China’s New Futurism” (published on ArtForum), while MovingCities published earlier some snapshots of the other SOHO-developments. It is also worthwhile to re-read the “Architect in China”-interview that was conducted with architect Qingyun Ma in 2006. At the time he talked about his desire, answering to the question how he would redefine the profession, to establish a career as real-estate developer (something that, to our knowledge, never really took off):
I plan to demonstrate this by stopping next year with my architectural practice and temporarily becoming a developer, exclusively. I want to see how architects can change roles. So I will sacrifice myself to make a point, again. I believe it has to do with the Chinese intellectual morality, you know. A developer really operates in a lovely world – thinking about what he does, having a goal, an idea and knowing how to fund it.
The Guanghualu SOHO-projects sits in the heart of the Chaowai commercial area and is in a complex intended for business, shopping and entertainment. In the near future the project is said to accommodate some 140 retail shops spread over 5 floors. Today few activity can be seen inside. From the street the skewed facade, featuring transparent polka dots (which are, according to the architect, eternal fashion elements), represents an intriguing formal gesture, although on a too small scale. Starting of this gem, one can imagine how much more interesting a similar 1 kilometer long building could be; like a snake swaying, twisting and turning through the blandness of Beijing’s business district. A couple of snapshots triggering the idea how fashion feeds form and/or the future of façadism.
Pictures by movingcities.org