Size matters in China: if it’s bigger, it must be better

June 2, 2013

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Artist’s impression of the Sky City One in Changsha

The Sky City One in Changsha, China, aims to be the tallest skyscraper in the world, rising 202-storeys into the hazy Hunan sky. The skyscraper will be located smack in the middle of the Hunan countryside, roughly 16 kilometers (10 miles) northwest of Changsha downtown in what is currently a wetland along the banks of the Xiangjiang River. It is due for completion in June, 2013. Sky City One, according to environmental architect Lloyd Alter, will be taller, greener, faster and cheaper.

We are by now used to huge, tall skyscrapers dotting China’s cities and even the countryside. It is almost standard practice to transform China from its shady past to glamorous modernity. It seems as long as China has the biggest of everything in the world, surely it must be the best place on earth. In the meantime taste, style, culture and tradition are often lost in this simplified pursuit of size.

However this attitude is deeply rooted in Chinese culture. In China, size matters! Chinese people compete to have the biggest gold rings, the biggest jade stones, the biggest diamond…. Now the whole car industry benefits from China’s never ending demand for ‘something bigger’.

I am glad China has thought about building an environmentally friendly building but I hope one day we can go one step further to understand what is impressive about being Chinese rather than focusing only on size.

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