It has been taken as a particularly bad omen for the TVCC building in Beijing to burn down on the Chinese new year holiday and this has sparked some surprising bouts of finger pointing. Though investigations so far have indicated that illegal firecrackers set off by new year revellers was the cause of the fire, public sentiment is that this happened because China has allowed itself to become a testing ground for Western architects.
The TVCC and CCTV buildings were designed by Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas of OMA as a pair to be the headquarters of the state broadcaster (Central China Television). The latter of the two is definitely the most unique and most easily recognizable as Koolhaas designed it to be, "an alternative to the tyranny of the skyscraper." Instead of soaring straight up into the sky, the building bends in on itself, describing a giant square in the sky with a continuous loop of TV studios, offices, and other facilities that reconfigures the typical top-to-bottom relationships of the traditional office building. Due to its shape, the scale of this building is often underestimated making it look squat though it stands at a soaring 54 storeys. The TVCC building in comparison is a relatively simple arrangement of boxes containing a hotel and a performance theatre, all wrapped in an angular cloak of metal at 34 storeys.
Inexplicably, rather than blame the firecracker throwing revellers, lax construction of the building is being pandered around as one the reasons why the building burned. I am not sure why this is Koolhaas' fault as every since the Sichuan earthquake, China has been blamed for sub par construction standards regardless of design specifications. Also, unless Koolhaas or other members of the office for metropolitan architecture were caught on camera throwing firecrackers themselves, he really shouldn't be blamed for the fire. The Chinese government knew that Koolhaas was a "Western architect" when he was selected for the project so what does it matter now?
Image obtained from: www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/feb/10/beijing-fire-architect-cctv