News and Travel Editor
China is home to some truly innovative feats of engineering. We all now know about China’s glass bridges, but what about other jaw-dropping examples of Chinese architecture? Here’s our highly personal CHINA ICONS Top 10 breath-taking buildings in Modern China.
10 – THE GATE OF THE ORIENT
The Gate of the Orient is located in Suzhou and symbolises a gateway to the city, emphasising the continuing significance of the city in modern China. The Gate is often referred to as China’s answer to the Arc de Triomphe and we love it because it’s known to locals as ‘Trousers Tower’.
9 – BANK OF CHINA TOWER
The structure of this magnificent looking tower references the Chinese symbols for Earth (square) and Heaven (circular) and combines elements of old and new China. For us, the skyscraper simply had to make the list for the jaw-dropping role it played in Mission Impossible III, when Tom Cruise used the building for a bungee jump!
8 – GUANGZHOU CIRCLE
The Guangzhou Circle adheres to and is inspired by feng shui. The ‘double disc of jade’ is the symbol of the Chinese dynasty that ruled in the area of Guangzhou 2000 years ago. The structure, when reflected in the water, shows a figure of 8, an incredibly lucky number in Chinese culture, and also the symbol for infinity. Did you know the start of the Beijing Olympics was on 8th August (the 8th month), 2008?
7 – CCTV HEADQUARTERS
The fascinatingly 3-D CCTV Headquarters directly goes against the traditional skyscraper competition for height and is built in the architectural style of ‘Deconstructivism’. The CCTV Headquarters were recognised as the ‘Best Tall Building Worldwide’ and ‘Best Tall Building in Asia and Australasia’ in 2013 by CTBUH Awards Program. Did you know locals refer to this as ‘Big Boxer Shorts’?
6 – THE PIANO HOUSE
Built in 2007, the Piano and Violin House in Huainan City, Anhui Province is on a scale of 50:1 and is an extremely popular photo stop for newly wedded couples. I love the way the roof of the building is tilted, just like the lid of a grand piano!
5 – SHERATON HUZHOU HOT SPRING RESORT
Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort is nicknamed ‘Horseshoe Hotel’ (for obvious reasons) and is intended to emphasise harmony between man and nature and to enhance visitors’ sensual and spiritual experiences.
4 – BIRDS NEST STADIUM
We simply couldn’t ignore the home of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Bird’s Nest Stadium. It was designed by Swiss and Chinese architects and is the most complex steel structure ever made. The stadium can withstand an earthquake of up to magnitude 8 which was made possible by using the purest steel ever produced in China. At the time of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the stadium could seat 91,000 spectators. (Psst, want to see how this incredible structure gets cleaned?!)
The Galaxy Soho Building was designed by world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid, who stated that ‘The design responds to the varied contextual relationships and dynamic conditions of Beijing.’ It’s a completely unique building that we think looks a bit like something out of a sci-fi movie inside!
2- SHANGHAI TOWER
The Shanghai Tower is China’s tallest building, standing at a monumental 632 metres. The tower is also home to the world’s fastest elevator. Travelling at 20.5 metres per second, it only takes 55 seconds to reach the sightseeing deck on the 119th floor. This beats both the Empire State Building and the One World Trade Centre in New York, travelling at 7.1 m/s and 10.2 m/s respectively. This incredible speed becomes even more dizzying when you find out that experts argue that fastest elevator humanly possible won’t be able to travel faster than 24 metres per second.
1 – NATIONAL CENTRE FOR PERFORMING ARTS
Topping the list for us at China Icons is the spectacular National Centre, which seats 5, 452 people in 3 halls and is locally described as ‘The Giant Egg’, floating on the surrounding water. The Opera Hall is used for both international and national operas including and international starts including Yehudi Menuhin, Zubin Mehta and Lang Lang (who opened the Centre on the New Year’s Eve Gala) have performed here. You enter the building through a fascinating underwater viewing gallery, making this a truly unique piece of architecture.