MY MOTHER LIM SOON HING WAS BORN IN CHINA CANTON PROVINCE
SHE WAS A VERY PROUD CHINESE EVEN THOUGH SHE ONLY HAD 3 YEARS OF EDUCATION. SHE OFTEN SAID THAT THE WHEEL WILL TURN TO THE EAST AND CONSTANTLY REMINDED US NOT TO FORGET THE OPIUM WAR!
ATTN: President Jiang Zemin
APPEAL TO RE-EVALUATE DESIGN OF STATE NATIONAL THEATRE.
My name is Chong Sun Wah. I am writing to you in the hope that I can share express my concern and share my vision for the establishment of the State National Theatre with you.
Architecture, Man’s contribution to the environment must strive to improve the quality of life. This might be the reason why the Chinese people are crying out loud in refusing the present design of the State National Theatre. Firstly, besides being too extravagant and clashes both culturally and aesthetically with its surroundings, it also does not represent the aspirations of the people. The present design does not speak for itself, what it stands for and what it hopes to achieve and in fact otherwise.
My concern is that the oval-shaped titanium facade designed by the French architect is neither economically viable or very appropriate as the glass facade bi-sects the oval dome into two symbolizing the rupture of the middle kingdom with its island province of Taiwan. In short, this design is not ideal to represent China because as the Chinese saying goes “Bu How E Tau” or it simply means not a good sign or omen.
I am a visionary who believes that architecture, besides being functional, also has a role to play in building and developing the very essence of human existence. Great architecture, at its most ideal, should inspire our intellect and our spirit to soar to a higher plane.
This is exactly what I am going to achieve for the State National Theatre in my concept proposal by creating meaning and substance into the overall design, besides being economically viable.
Asia has been known for its strong cultural values and works ethic. Modern (new) Asian architecture should therefore proudly reflect our cultural heritage: who we were and who we have become. Such structures should foster a sense of pride and belonging. In short, Modern Asian architecture is all about: “an architecture with a soul and a powerful ideology”
The design of the State National Theatre must possess the power to communicate positively with those who see and use it; a building that will inspire all Chinese to believe in themselves and in their collective power as a nation.
One of the greatest attributes of Asian values and beliefs is the principle of ‘Yin and Yang’. To apply this ideology in the design of the State National Theatre, the basic fundamental like the transformation of the square (Earth) to the circle (Heaven) will be enforced. This means the symbol of the ‘Tao’ will be ideal for the roof structure, while the base of the building will sit on a square lake. It will demonstrate to the world that China is a country deeply rooted in the profound belief of balance in all things – Harmony and Unity.
The disc-shaped roof should also be slanted to the north. Slanting it has a very practical purpose when considering Beijing’s climate but it also reminds us of the ancient Chinese belief that Man has his origins in the north and God direction is to the west.
Man is made by the process of Yin and Yang combining (a merger of heaven and earth) to give him a physical form. Similarly, in architectural terms, this means the ‘Head’ is associated with the ‘Heaven’. Therefore the roof structure of State National Theatre is the gate to heaven. When you open the gate of heaven you are entering into ‘Paradise’. Thus, ideally, the entrance must face west, directly to God. To interpret this statement, the entire floor of the roof will be a beautifully landscaped garden with waterfall and amphitheaters on both sides. This will enlighten the whole surrounding with a feeling of warm by bringing us closer to nature.
On the ‘Yin’ side will be for eastern performing art like the Chinese opera with restaurants catering for Chinese cuisine. The ‘Yang’ side will be for western performing art with dining for western cuisine. By simply creating this open-air theatre is to balance the indoor theatres, thus we are achieving the ‘Yin and Yang’ concept.
The shape of the old Chinese ingots will represent China’s great wealth in its people and natural resources and will serve as a splendid statement for the main structure. The old Chinese gold ingot facade is dress totally in gold glass, (gold represent wealth) sitting naturally on a square lake, is in harmony and unity with one another is a perfect setting. When this balance is achieved, great wealth will keep flowing, express by the waterfall, where the inward flow of the water symbolizes the ‘retention of wealth’.
This is how we can relate design to our history and culture – modern yet traditional. Indeed, this grand monument should be named the “Beijing Golden Theatre” as it truly represents the soul and heart of its people. This is what modern Asian architecture is all about; they belong to the era, a record of time, place and man.
The Yin and Yang complement and counterbalance each other. Yin and Yang are not opposites and neither could exist without the other. Together, they form a circle, a symbol of harmony and the final unity for humanity. In short, the total design of State National Theatre is about acquiring the skill and art of balance because without balance in our lives, we will be too pragmatic and rational leaving very little room for compassion.
Great architecture is born not made, in essence, is art whose spirit touches hearts and uplifts lives. It inspires greatness in passion and vision and allows people to attain fulfillment as human beings. It fires the imagination. In providing a guiding light, the best of architecture inspires courage, pride, confidence, and patriotism, catalyzing people to develop them not only in terms of creativity but also in other equally important ways politically, emotionally, socially and spiritually.
My proposal for the design of the State National Theatre symbolizes the essential balance that has been the engine of China’s enduring civilization for over 5 millennia and focuses the collective will of all Asians on continued growth as well as artistic and spiritual development.
Chong Sun Wah