Unknown Fields Architects have shared with us their entry for the eVolo Competition. More images and architect’s description after the break.
Scrutiny informs transformation of a polity. With the advancement of Internet, people acquire or reveal information at a historically low cost. Sharing information online is no longer costly on human life, human rights and economics. High fluidity of information results in better transparency and empowers public scrutiny. Contemporary polities are in the state of transformation, either to be efficient, open or honest, or to be closed, conspiratorial and inefficient. Such shifts, expansions and modifications of contemporary polities have driven changes in the material configuration of their spaces of operation. The new Great Hall of the People is an architectural response of a contemporary polity to the public in near future.
Beijing has been the capital of China for the last nine hundred years, it served 4 dynasties, 86 emperors and 1 political party. It was the centre of decision-making process, instructing and supervising the rest of the country through one absolute ideology, thus one man of absolute power. From imperialism to communalism, Beijing underwent substantial renovation and expansion. It was during Ming period that the present grid pattern of the central city was established, arranged around a north-south axis centering on the Imperial Palace. It was during Mao period that introduced Soviet-style architecture, torn down Beijing city wall to build the first vehicles based road and built the “Ten Great Buildings” to break Beijing away from imperial rules into modernization. It was during this period that the Great Hall of the People was built to house National People’s Congress and demolished Gate of China to expand Tiananmen Square in order to hold activities of a million persons. Yet, it was the period that an estimation of 45 millions lives staved to an involuntary death, education system was forced to malfunction and cultural activities went homogeneous. These devastating catastrophes drove another transformation of Communist Party to initiate “Reform and Opening” and impoverished planned economy into a market economy. The shifts was reflected in the architectures in the 90s Beijing that Soviet style no longer represent the transformed polity but replaced with a universal language.
During the last two decades, “Reform and Opening” gave the people a relief from the pervasive poverty and totalitarianism of the Mao’s era, and brought substantial increases in the living standards as well as restoration of economic freedom and economic rights. “Reform and Opening” also shifted the ruling party from an outright rejection of “rights” to partial acknowledgment of them. Constitution was amended in 2004 to include “respect and protect human rights”, yet, most of this political progress are just written, but not be enacted. There are laws but no rule of law, it has constitution but no constitutional government. Incidents of endemic corruption, pillage of the natural and historical environments, forced demolition and animosity between officials and ordinary people are exposed and shared through blogs and social networks everyday. Conflicts and crises are ever growing that the suppressed and monitored people has become more militant and raised the possibility of a violent conflict. The demise of the current system has reached the point where another transformation is ready to begin. The transformed Great Hall of The People will operate for the first five years until the last pilgrims arrived. Pilgrimage for a cause that people have been losing lives, families and rights for the last 100 years.