We have been warned against the overuse of the world ‘icon’ in relation to architecture projects, but there is no more fitting description for China’s CCTV Headquarters in Beijing.
After its conception 10 years ago in 2002 by architectural firm OMA and lead designers Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren, the competition-winning proposal finally came off the page when work began in 2004. Now, a decade later, its opening is imminent.
“I am very happy, after years of intense collaboration, that the CCTV building will soon begin to perform its role in the way it is intended,” Koolhaas says.
The structure breaks with convention and offers an utterly unique aesthetic. This includes the development of two leaning towers rising 54 storeys which meet at a L-shaped, 75-foot extension structure. The now-completed façade shows off the diagonal exterior support system that supports the unconventionally-shaped building.
Scheeren admits the architects’ mindset behind creating a building so aesthetically unique was to challenge the notion of architecture, identifying its boundaries are and crossing them.
“One thing this building has done is it has asked a lot of questions,” he says. “It has questioned what is architecture, what can architecture be, what can it do. This question can be answered far more deeply and interestingly now that the building will start to live and will start to be utilised.”
Scheeren, like Koolhaas, welcomes the end of the construction and design era of the building and is looking forward to seeing how the building now runs, reminding us that even though this is a one-of-a-kind architectural building, it has been built for a function that is integral to modern Chinese media.
“It’s mainly the end of our work, but it’s actually the beginning of its life,” Scheeren says. “From here on, the building finally will be what it’s made for.”
After a decade of high praise and controversy, one of the world’s most talked about buildings is finally complete. The skyscraper’s completion heralds a new era of Chinese architecture and offers to stand as a challenge for architects globally to take their unconventional designs off the page and into the built arena.