Central, Hong Kong.
... time to sleep, eat (a lot) less, exercise, visit the cats... and keep working hard.
Panda Research Base, Wuhou Temple, and spicy Sichuan hotpot. Chengdu, Sichuan.
The Chinese city of Shenzhen recently commissioned the French firm Vincent Callebaut Architects to come up with an innovative and sustainable building solution for the growing metropolis. The result is this: The Shenzhen Asian Cairn Farmscraper project, an initiative consisting of six mix-used towers structured like a pile of rocks. Aside from being absolutely gorgeous, the buildings will provide space for residents, offices, shops, recreation — and as the name would imply, its own food.
China is often accused of being environmentally irresponsible, and for good reason. But it's a claim that may not stand the test of time. With an eye firmly planted on the future, the city of Shenzhen is actively responding to the demands of its rising population, unchecked urban sprawl, and rising CO2 emissions.
I would normally equate words like 'vaporware' and 'never-gonna-happen' to a project like this but I've seen too many crazy structures actually go forward and be built in this city, so never say never.
Gizmodo wrote up a list of 18 21st century buildings around the world they thought looked like alien spaceships. My first thought was that at least one of the buildings would be in China, and that building would be The National Theater in Beijing. To my surprise, five out of the 18 buildings listed were in China. Those five were:
The National Theater, Beijing
"Mobile "Art" Exhibition Pavilion, Hong Kong
The Beijing National Stadium ("Bird's Nest"), Beijing
The Guangzhou Opera House, Guangzhou
Galaxy Soho, Beijing
I then looked through the comments section and found some other Chinese buildings recommended for this list (though some were not from the 21st century), and was surprised to see that some of them were right here in Shenzhen. The readers' choices that included Chinese buildings were:
The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, Hong Kong
Shenzhen Visitor's Center, Shenzhen
Multi-Purpose Cultural Center, Shenzhen
UK Pavilion at Shanghai Expo, Shanghai
CCTV Building, Beijing
So what would I add to the above list based on my personal experience here in China? I'd add the following:
Shenzhen Poly Theater, Shenzhen
Zifeng Plaza, Nanjing
Water Cube, Beijing
Beijing Capital Airport Terminal 3, Beijing
Beijing South Railway Station, Beijing
Shanghai Tower, Shanghai (still under construction)
Went to my friend's apartment to look after her cat as she is out of town for holiday. Then went to KingKey 100 to drink a White Russia 101 stories up.
Grand Theater, Luohu, Shenzhen.
Below is a selection of photos I took at the 2013 Hong Kong CNY holiday fireworks display. I watched the display from Kowloon and it ran about 20 minutes starting at 8 pm. The display was not as big as the one I viewed in Korea last year but it was still a lot more impressive than I was expecting. Below the following photos is video I took of the display. All photos I took (and at full resolution) can be found in the gallery.
Xixiang, Baoan, Shenzhen.
Diwang and Kingkey, Shenzhen's two tallest buildings. Luohu, Shenzhen.
November 9, 2012. Shenzhen, China.
Hollywood Road, Hong Kong.
Until I entered the stadium, followed my friends to the VIP section, and saw a program on my seat featuring Jay Chou's face, I hadn't even realized this was the concert I had been invited to. So I can't complain too much. The concert featured five semi-superstars singing 3-4 songs each (a short video would introduce the singer, the singer would come on stage, the singer would sing for 15 minutes, the singer would leave the stage, a short video would introduce the next singer, and repeat) followed by super-superstar Jay Chou singing a set. So not too bad of a deal.
That said, I was a little disappointed. Disappointing because Jay Chou only sang for 15 or 20 minutes at the very end and he wasn't even the best act of the night.
Some observations from the concert:
Big Screens with Karaoke-like Subtitles - It was useful being able to watch the big screens while each singer was onstage and follow along with the lyrics. This seemed to transformed the stadium into the world's largest karaoke room; everyone, even those who didn't know the songs, were able to sing along.
Little Use of the Stage - The stage was huge, and yet most of it was rarely utilized. Only one of the six singers even used the stage's lone staircase during his or her act. Both singers and dancers alike stayed solely on the stage's ground floor. So why the need for the big setup?
Lots of Lights in the Audience - Many people on the streets leading to the stadium were selling light sticks and glowing rabbit ears. These creations created great atmosphere in the stadium during the concert. This is normal during concerts in China, but has this caught on in the US? It hadn't yet when I was living there.
Cool Cars - Ferraris. Mclarens. Lotus. Matte black Audis. Good.
No Encore - When the concert was done, it was done. Not even a hint of an encore. The might have been for the best considering the number of children I saw at the concert and how many of them were probably getting tired by the end. The length and pacing of the concert was very much tuned to the attention span of a normal child.
Why Jay Chou? Why - The whole night built up to his set. His video introduction elicited roars of excitement. Jay Chou then rose out of the floor, danced a little bit, rapped very quietly, sang a song at a piano, and wished everyone a good night. Twenty minutes later the concert had ended. Everyone else around me seemed satisfied. Maybe this was par for the course. I was left unsatisfied. I thought the first two singers of the night (the girl at the top and the boy with the tie in the advertisement above) were great, but all the following singers, including Jay Chou, weren't as good as I had hoped.
Shenzhen Bay Sports Center Is Beautiful - Beijing has the Bird's Nest and Shenzhen now has the 'caterpillar.' Built for the summer 2011 Universiade competition, the complex is stunning. I need to find an excuse to visit it again soon.
Below are some photos from the concert. Enjoy.
How did a news story about a planned 'tallest building in the world' to be built in only 90 days in Changsha, China ever pass me by? Well it did and I just read the following from Inhabitat:
At a proposed height of 220 stories tall, Sky City is set to become the world’s tallest building. Construction is set to begin by November of this year in the Chinese city of Changsha in the province of Hunan, and the project was originally estimated to take only 90 days to complete. However, developer Broad Sustainable Building has now extended the deadline to March of 2013. Even at this pace, Sky City would set a record completion time 9 times faster than the Burj Khalifa, the globe’s current record holder. It will also cost a “mere” $628 million in contrast to Burj Khalifa’s $1.5 billion price tag.
I wrote about this company in the same sort of disbelief in January of this year when a YouTube video was released showing them building a 30-story tall hotel in just 360 hours. This same YouTube video is below:
Now the same company is back and preparing to use the same construction processes to build a 220-story tower in only 120 days (November 2012 - March 2013). That would make this new tower a planned 10 meters taller than the current 'world's tallest building,' the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (838 vs 828 meters).
Think about how great technology is nowadays and how many ground-breaking projects we've been able to observe just over the past few months. We had the Curiosity Rover successfully land on Mars, a man jumped from a balloon 24 miles above the Earth's surface and broke the sound barrier in the process, and now we get to see if this Chinese company can indeed build the world's tallest and most energy efficient skyscraper in only 1/9th of the time and for less than half the cost than what has been possible up to this point in history. I will definitely be paying attention to this story as it develops. I wish BSB luck and hope the project is a success.
Lastly, below is a video showing a scale model of the company's 30-story hotel undergoing earthquake testing. If anything else, this company does know how to produce great videos.
Shanghai's Pudong district, as photographed from New Heights Restaurant on The Bund at nightfall and night.
My friend had to work, so my other friend and I took the Seoul City Tour Bus. Buy one ticket and you can hop on and off as many times as you want during the day, with a new bus coming every thirty minutes. We took the downtown tour bus route and stopped at the new City Hall, Seoul Tower, and a large shopping area. We finished up the day by eating some kimchi fried rice and tofu soup and catching up on some work at Tom and Tom's Coffee. Even at 9 pm on a Friday night, there were many university students at the coffee cafe studying. Apparently midterms in only two weeks away.