Swagg

/swaːgg/
adjective

1. Mostly known as style, unique part of what makes you different than the other players in a cool way.
i.e This guy is swagg.

2. The way you carry yourself -confidence-, your gear -clothes-, and anything else that is pimpin.
i.e I see ya lookin, feelin my swagg.

 

Wall Street Journal reported in 2014 the Chinese President Xi Jinping attended to a literary symposium with relevant figures of art, theatre and literature. In his speech he asked for an end of what he called weird architecture.

With his message, the head of the government mentioned the need for an Art in service of people and society. Fine art should be like sunshine from the blue sky and the breeze in spring that inspire minds, warm hearts, cultivate taste and clean up undesirable work methods, he said referring to the Headquarters of CCTV by Rem Koolhaas.

In recent years, Beijing –as many other cities- has seen several experimental design developments rising in the horizon. In 2012, Zaha Hadid unveiled the Galaxy SOHO, a mall shaped like an egg. Upon its completion, the building has faced the criticism of neighbors and protectionist organizations like the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center.

1604 Hufton And Crown Galaxy SohoGalaxy SOHO, photo © Hufton And Crown

The developer – SOHO China – is the largest Real Estate developer in the country. Run by Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin, they have promoted Herzog & De Meuron’s Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium, the Water Cube and the National Aquatics Center also by Hadid, among others.

Driven by the Olympic Games of 2012 and the boom of construction, these kind of projects have faced criticism from local traditionalist groups. At the same time, a lot of architects around the world have laid eyes on the mainland to expand their practices. China is currently a hot bed with incommensurable postmodernist wildness but also a land of opportunities.

The protectionist groups mentioned before accused the Galaxy SOHO to destroy the traditional urban fabric. But it’s important to point that it was built in an area with official headquarters and similar developments connected with highways. It makes me think the problem is not scale or function but form. And in that case I believe the sumptuous shapes of the building are, indeed, far from the chinese rational spirit. There is also the political corruption that often involve big public investments in all the countries including China. This problem is what -I believe- the President of the Communist Party is actually trying to address with a ban for weird architecture.

According to the New York Times, last March 2016, the Chinese State Council issued new guidelines that will make it difficult for architecture that is oversized, xenocentric and devoid of cultural tradition. There will be stricter design standards for public buildings. We shouldn’t go overboard in pursuit of appearances, said an official of the Ministry of Construction.

1604 Ningbo History MuseumNingbo History Museum, Photo © Lv Hengzhong

In 2012 the Pritzker Prize was given to the chinese architect Wang Shu. This is a genuine milestone due to his position and cultural relevance as the dean of the School of Architecture of China’s Academy of Art. His project for the Ningbo History Museum is the vivid example that a more vernacular architecture is possible without resigning contemporary principles. With the approved governmental directive and the influence of Shu, the upcoming years we’ll see new developments where the Hutongs and courtyard houses have a contemporary reflection. So the form and taste of the architecture are locally rooted and we -western architects- stop swaging in China.

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