Beijing >> Zibo

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<p>We always had a strange fascination for Zibo. It has been on our radar since we found it positioned at the end of the alphabetical list of China’s cities with more than 1 million inhabitants. And because nobody seems to care about it. Due to a nice coincidence of interests we embarked last weekend on a four hour high-speed train trip to the south. Zibo <span style=淄博!

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.

Beijing South Railway Station | September 4, 2009

Beijing - Zibo | September 4, 2009

Pictures by

Special thanks to Gao Ying, Cherry Song & The Dutch Chinese Chamber of Commerce.


5 Replies to “Beijing >> Zibo”

  1. Interesting article… Always had the impression that China was just jam packed with people. Photos really help to tell the story that there are still opportunities for China to develop. New Modern Architecture would help this city’s image, attract more tourists, investors, and business.

  2. I’ve been to Zibo recently in the past 3 weeks or so. I had to take the same train you all did, and it was my first time going to Beijing South Station. My first reaction to the station was “Hey, I’ve been here before.” Turns out I have in the fact that Shanghai’s South railway station is Identical in design. I’m curious to find out how many other South Railway copies there are in China altogether.

    My favorite game to pass the hours on trains in China is to keep a running tally on how many Nuclear Plants you see on the ride. I think this trip was 6, but I can’t remember.

  3. Yup. Those are coal fred, power generating plants. Some of them supply steam to industries and homes. If you’re close enough you can see those big pipes. These plants are barely enough to supply the Chinese needs at the present moment, so finding nuke plants is not very far off, unless China makes significant strides in other renewable energy sources.

    I have a question. I always fly into Zibo either from Shanghai or Beijing. I want to take this train. Does the high speed rail stop in Zibo?
    Thanks, Raju

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