East Meets West; Architecturally, That Is

Beijing chooses Swiss over Chinese architects for their National Stadium.
December 4, 2003, 11am PST | Adam Weiss
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In a controversial move, the Chinese plan to use plans by Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron for their National Stadium. The project, commonly called the "bird's nest" because it looks "like a ball of ribbon or a caged lantern, with a roll-on roof for rainy days," will be home to the 2008 Olympics. This is not a new trend; Frenchman Paul Andreu's National Theatre, Dutchman Rem Koolhaas's state television headquarters, and Briton Norman Foster's future airport terminal are only a few of the recent projects in China that have been designed by foreigners. " 'It's not about capability, but rather I don't think Chinese architects are ready to take on some of the tough agendas of contemporary architecture, from the very social aspects to some technological issues,' said architect Zhang Yonghe, a Peking University professor. The pace of change and a deluge of outside influences compounds their sense of cultural schizophrenia. 'Nobody knows what's really contemporary Chinese architecture,' said Zhang."

Thanks to Adam Weiss

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Published on Tuesday, December 2, 2003 in CNN
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