Recently the public voted, suprisingly, Beijing’s South Railway Station as number one of the “new Beijing top ten spectacles in architecture” (google-translate). And a spectacle it is. But not overall, as we found out on our way back. The oval-shaped station was designed by the UK/Hong Kong architecture firm of Terry Farrell and Partners in collaboration with the Tianjin Design Institute. Project description (pdf alert!). In essence it doesn’t differ to much from your random airport and it probably a great place for those who lament the disappearance of die-hard nineties high-tech architecture. We couldn’t leave it fast enough.
Fast forward to Zibo, located in China’s Shandong province. Nobody expects Zibo being the zippiest of all China’s cities. But more on that in following posts. While speeding down South, peaking at 245 km/h, we were shooting China. Somewhere half-way the lady sitting next to us asked why we were taking pictures. MovingCities, we confessed. We also hold that the fleeting and passing forms of progress intrigued us. There is a continuous disappearance of architecture, the temporal expedition to mutating cities, along places where all stages of urban development can be seen in the span of a couple of hours. Or because it deals with the paradox of speed, as phrased in “The Aesthetics of Disappearance” (Semiotext(e) 1991) from the urbanist, political theorist and critic of the art of technology Paul Virilio, as following:
In the last century we had already become aware of the paradox of speed: “The train doesn’t make voyagers of us but packages that are expedited…” (…) “We can imagine for the future,” writes Charles Schreider, “a transformation (of reality) into video signals stored on tape, or better yet a decomposition and coding of images in digital signals capable of storage in various materials…” The development of high technical speeds would thus result in the disappearance of consciousness as the direct perception of phenomena that inform us of our own existence.
One rule (the same for aerophotography): always make sure to have a windowseat. Shaken and stirred speeding from Beijing to Zibo.
Pictures by movingcities.org
Special thanks to Gao Ying, Cherry Song & The Dutch Chinese Chamber of Commerce.