CCTV joke dawns on Chinese

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 August, 2009, 12:00am

Expressions of outrage are increasing on mainland internet sites and in news media as people learn that a book published by a company run by Rem Koolhaas, the architect of China Central Television's ultrafuturistic Beijing headquarters, likens the two buildings to a pair of male and female genitalia.

The book Content, published by OMA, the Dutch architect's architectural studio, came out in 2004 and a couple of mainland netizens have been writing on the internet since 2005 claiming that Mr Koolhaas, the chief architect of the CCTV project, might have intentionally included sexual connotations in the design of one of one of China's most daring and expensive buildings.

Mr Koolhaas is also a contender for the design of the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong.

Since an article referring to the issue was posted on the People's Daily online service on August 19, angry netizens have been asking if China has spent five years and billions of dollars on building a pornographic joke.

A China Youth Daily commentary yesterday tried to downplay the furore and said reproduction worship had been a tradition in the mainland since ancient days.

The controversial complex is one of many such multi-billion yuan projects built in recent years in what is seen by many as a rush of vanity and which has dismayed mainland architects and the public in general.

Public discontent with the CCTV headquarters was demonstrated by the elation expressed in various quarters after part of the complex was gutted by fire in February.

Xiao Mo, a retired architecture critic from China Art Institute, is among detractors of the the lavish tendency in mainland architecture which puts artistic expression above all. In a June Internet posting, Professor Xiao accused Mr Koolhaas of making fools of 1.3 billion mainlanders and criticised the spending required to fulfil his artistic ambitions.

OMA press officer Bas Lagendijk said the CCTV complex design was not intended to offend mainlanders. He said that only two pages of Content referred to the buildings' design, but the overall context of the book had nothing to do with the design or the client. He said the company would release a statement later.