Monday, July 07, 2008

Beijing Urban Planning Exhibition Center

Saturday, we took a mini-field trip to the Beijing Urban Planning Exhibition Center near Tiananmen. The Urban Planning museum is basically a lengthy ode to the Beijing 20 year plan and the rapid transformation of Beijing into the truly metro/cosmopolitan urban space we've all come to know and love.

When the Taxi first arrived, however, we were confused by the giant elliptical waterfall etched with British Columbia Canada Pavilion. Hmmm...had we taken a drastically wrong turn and been teleported to that exotic land known as Canadia??? Apparently not. Instead, we'd only wandered into a monolith of a commercial meant to improve trade relations between China and British Columbia (plus, the 2010 Winter Olympics are in Vancouver).

As we entered, the guide at the front desk proudly proclaimed that the wood floor was imported maple from Quebec. The guide at the exit told us that the Pavilion would only be open from May to September. *needle falling off record player* Wait, what? You imported maple wood from Canada for 4 months to convince Chinese business men to do business with you? Hmmm...well I'm no economist, but the whole scheme sounded a bit shaky to me. Plus, even though the Pavilion is "free," the only way you can get in is to pay $30 yuan to get into the Urban Planning center. Again, I'm no economist, but that doesn't sound like free to me...

The upside to this whole deal is that Marilyn and I entered to win a VIP dinner with Da Shan, the self-proclaimed most famous foreigner in China. Which would probably make him the most famous Canadian ever. Other than maybe Alanis Morrisette. Anyway, Da Shan is this Canadian guy who has been studying Chinese in China for almost 20 years, so his Chinese is impeccable. His face is used to sell anything from personal translators to cars.

Here's an interior shot of the pavilion, with some strange Canadian creature peeking out of the wood(s):

After wandering through the Canadian Pavilion, we headed to the Urban Planning museum. The best part about the museum is the miniature model of Beijing:

Here's a closeup of the miniature of the new CCTV tower designed by Rem Koolhaas (they've been studying Koolhaas and his urban space theories in Marilyn's class):

(look closely and you might be able to find another creature...)

The most amazing thing is how different the Beijing cityscape is now, compared to just a few years ago. This museum's basically a tribute to that fact.

Anyway, sorry for dragging on. I spent most of today online in my underwear (my usual custom when looking for work), so I figured I'd make up for it with an extra long post...

Oh, and one more thing, I've been listening to this sweet mashup album: 2.0, by Audiobytes for Autobots. It's a free download, so you should check it out.

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