Lots of things are wigging me out about the burned up CCTV building. Are fireworks that dangerous? What will happen with all that debris? And WHY are they censoring news of it over here?
The building that caught fire was the Rem Koolhaas designed companion to the CCTV angular marvel. Named the Television Cultural Centre, it was supposed to be a more lighthearted companion to its hulking sister. Besides a 300 room luxury hotel (The Mandarin Oriental), it would have also held restaurants and spas, recording studios and a 1,500-seat theatre.
The design was equally as fascinating as the CCTV headquarters (nicknamed Big Underpants or Big Haemorrhoids by the Chinese public). The Office of Metropolitan Architecture, Koolhaas’ firm, drew inspiration from giant termite mounds.
The first four floors protruded from the building’s façade like randomly-arranged boxes and the entire building was to be wrapped in a unique titanium zinc alloy. OMA had chosen the material, ironically, because it would “endure time better than other metal buildings.”
Right now the official story is that the Mandarin Oriental, which was located at the top, caught fire from the myriad of fireworks set off to mark the Lantern Festival. Beijing usually bans the fireworks from its downtown area, but eases restrictions during the Spring Festival period (we really, really love our fireworks). But did you see how that building burned? Has anyone ever seen a skyscraper light up like that without… you know, being hit by a jet?
But what weirds me out the most is the government response. This notice went out to news websites, BBS and blogs telling moderators to stop reporting on the CCTV fire. That means posting no more pictures, videos and only using the officially-sponsored Xinhua report.
Why? Some say it’s because the CCP doesn’t want anybody to know about it until they’ve determined the cause of the fire – having millions assume that Beijing was under terrorist attack would be damaging to the country’s harmony. But wouldn’t a “The CCTV building caught fire last night. Cause is unknown, but terrorism is unlikely” blurb solve that?
I know I’m living in a country that doesn’t find anything wrong with censorship. And sometimes, considering the scarily huge masses of people they have to deal with, I can understand why. Nonetheless, my jaw’s really on the floor right now. I never thought that something this newsworthy, and this hard to hide, would get the silent treatment. I eagerly await what they government say when they finally hold a press conference on it.