Best Beijing Buildings To See
From art correspondent Elena Bowes
“Virginia Ibbott, a charming Brit previously with London’s Tate Modern, has recently moved to Beijing to head external relations at the new Ullens Center of Contemporary Art. Ibbott likens Beijing to an architectural museum. A myriad of intensely modern and original structures are sprouting up around China’s capital city in advance of next summer’s Olympic Games.
Top on Ibbott’s list of edifices to seek out is French architect Paul André’s National Theatre. The bubble-like jellyfish of a building glows at night and is conveniently located right next to the Forbidden City, another top choice on Ibbott’s list. The Forbidden City is a lesson to all architects, she says, because its grand proportions convey a deep sense of tranquility. Ibbott also adores Herzog and De Meuron’s National Olympics Stadium, nicknamed the “Birdnest,” because of its spaghetti nest shape made by curved steel-net walls, which enclose the stadium. Contemporary conceptual artist Ai Weiwei consulted on the project, and Ibbott says his aesthetic influence is very evident.
Ibbott also likes “The Watercube,” as the Olympic Swimming Stadium is more commonly known. The stunning building looks like it’s made from giant blue water bubbles, which is not only visually pleasing on the exterior but refers nicely to the interior function of the building. On the outskirts of Beijing, The Green T. House is a soothing lifestyle retreat using similar grand proportions as in the Forbidden City. Its daring pavillon-style restaurant has a huge white chimney floating over a long slim fireplace and crystal floors and walls. Finally, Ibbott recommends visiting her new base—the UCCA. Started by a successful Belgian businessman, the UCCA gallery will showcase Chinese emerging artists. The converted factory building located in 798 (Beijing’s equivalent of Manhattan’s arty Soho in the ’90s) has strong Bauhaus influences and is decorated simply in black and white.”