Tag Archives: Architecture

Chinese Chamber of Commerce office George Town

Chinese Chamber of Commerce, George Town
On one hand, preserving old building brings a big return from tourism sector. Yet conservation cost aside, it actually pays a hefty price in the land scarcity needed to make way for economic development of bigger size and population. Is it worth it?

Chinese Chamber of Commerce’s branch office in Penang, Malaysia, dated back in 1928, at the decline of Qing dynasty and the rise of Nationalist movement in China, is one of the examples of Chinese preserved buildings overseas.

More than just protecting the site amid the modernisation—as seen across the block—conservation of such buildings in Penang, is a guarantee for indefinite time.

Penang has also preserved a number of Chinese ancestral temples.

This is an extraordinary commitment considering that keeping old buildings is inefficient as low-density offices cost space. Especially in a town that sits on a small island, separated by a strait from the rest of the country, space is extremely limited.

What the commerce says about conservation

High-rise buildings have in the past few decades slowly scraping the skies of Penang, keeping up with demand for space. But supplying office space within these low-density old buildings deserves a praise.

This is part of the solution to ensure continuous growth for commercial and tourism sector, although economic gains to land value ratio does not look too good.

In Singapore, for instance, the policy favors land reclamation, while the city administration in Jakarta compromises the protection of heritage sites for the sake of supplying new, high-density office spaces. In many ways, however, it is hardly that each cases be compared.

National Center for the Performing Arts Beijing

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Most of the time, art is more of something to be appreciated by feelings rather than understanding. But in homogenous society, even among the well-educated, everything foreign tends to be a subject of study from a single perspective.

Beijing high society bragged about the spectacle of the country’s new wave of performing arts in Turandot, played in the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing two years after its inauguration. It is one of the most widely publicized Chinese operas in 2009, which is an adaptation of a masterpiece by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini. It was met with positive reception. But it will take time before it is the public who commend, not the media.

Main hall 3

No city in the modern history of the world experienced such colossal transformation in a very short time the way Beijing had in the past decade. And few arts center had drawn such immense impact on social environment like the way NCPA had on urbanites in the capital city of China. It was not the only nouveau object approved by the authority in order to gain the world’s attention that had been frowned upon by its own citizens.

CCTV tower, dubbed the Big Pants, drew the same degree of criticism due to its peculiar shape. But what made NCPA so controversial to the locals was that it was built in the central area of power for the ruling regimes since many centuries ago. As if NCPA did not stop breaking the conventions in location only, the design was surely to make many Chinese scratch heads.

NCPA dome shape that gives a futuristic look makes a staggering contrast to the Soviet-style buildings that house many governmental institutions around the vicinity.

A number of people have begun this hate to love relationship with this building since the project was initiated in 2001. But apart from its appearance, NCPA still has to confront another issue, the shows.

Traditional Chinese operas and orchestra are still frequent programs as the two has enjoyed wide acceptance among Beijingers, but the introduction to foreign culture either through adaptation works like Turandot or imported shows, and more contemporary performance could take a longer process, as the Chinese society moves toward openness.