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China in their hands

Astragal spent last night hunkered down in front of the telly, sheltering from the swirling snowstorm that battered against his windows and shunning all architectural partying as it was just TOO BLOODY COLD OUTSIDE… However, Astragal is never entirely off duty, and one item on Newsnight caught his eagle eye. This feature focused on contemporary architecture in China and posed the question: ‘Are Western architects simply using China as a testing ground for bonkers architectural experimentation?’ And when you consider the fact the confirmed loonies Rem Koolhaas, Paul Andreu and Herzog & de Meuron have been let loose in the People’s Republic, the answer can only be ‘yes’. One little factoid that did get Astragal’s mouth watering was that Rem’s new headquarters for Central Chinese Television is set to become the biggest structure in the entire world. Newsnight’s reporter, wandering Lilliputian-like around the vast construction site, likened the scheme to five Canary Wharf towers, all joining at the top. What he failed to note was that, at 550,000m2 spread over a 10ha site, when finished the building will still be marginally smaller than Koolhaas’ own ego.

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