Big Underpants

Beijing has gone through a building boom in the past few years, spurred on by the 2008 Olympics. As a result the city has sprouted some amazing modern architecture from the new airport and various stadia, to apartment blocks, hotels and my favourite, the CCTV Headquarters.

Designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, this building is so extraordinary that once seen, never forgotten. It is located quite near us in the CBD (central business district) in Chaoyang, so I go past it all the time and never tire of looking at it as it changes shape depending which position you view it from.

I’ve read that it has the second largest floor area of any structure in the world (the first is the Pentagon).  As yet the public are not allowed in, – I am not too sure if it is actually occupied – I would LOVE to look out over Beijing from inside it.

Soon after the building was up, Beijingers gave it the nickname ‘Big Underpants’ because some of them thought it looked like a pair of Long Johns, and the nickname stuck – much to the annoyance of the authorities!

Many people dislike it, considering it too modern; but it has already become a Beijing icon, and soon they will all be so used to it that it will become another much loved symbol of this extraordinary megalopolis.

About herschelian

Started my 60s by moving to China with my DH. Surprised to find I am still here in Beijing eight years later - still finding it an adventure!
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4 Responses to Big Underpants

  1. Kit says:

    Goodness – it’s an extraordinary building – looks like it came from a space fantasy movie!

  2. Teuchter says:

    I love it. We could just see a sliver of it from J’s apartment.

    I’ve also heard it called The Trousers and The Chicken’s Legs . . . to go with The Bird’s Nest (Olympic stadium) and The Egg ( new National Theatre).

    After the architecture, the next most striking thing about the new terminal at the airport is the amount of space – bliss after the nose-to-tail congestion at Heathrow.
    There also seems to be far less signage pollution, making it easier to find what one needs. Of course, that could just be my western brain tuning out anything in Mandarin script.

  3. Emily Barton says:

    So, thought I’d come visit you, after you found me and discovered I must be related to your husband. What fun, moving to and exploring China (I’m afraid I don’t lead such an exciting life, but am always eager to lead one vicariously — if also jealously — through others). And what a cool building this is.

  4. norwich marj says:

    Wow – love eccentric buildings ever since falling in love with The Guggenheim, Bilbao- all those amazing angles………

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