Sunday, January 18, 2009

I See London, I See France...

...I See CCTV Underpants

Chinese and its many homophones can be source of great amusement.

The new CCTV building has been nicknamed the “Big Underpants” building because of its shape (see self explanatory picture below!) but it is also a pun on the word hemorrhoids. Zhichuang (智窗) means “Knowledge Window” while Zhichuang (痔疮) means “Hemorrhoids” (if you don’t see characters on your browser… trust me it’s just a question of different characters sounding the same!). And the main reason for the naming Zhichuang:

  1. CCTV is the national TV broadcaster, an important window for broadcasting information and knowledge to the entire country and the world.
  2. The central part of the new building's polygon shape gives it the appearance of a giant window
  3. The whole building looks like the legs and buttocks of a person who is squatting, and the name Zhichuang is also a homophone for zhichuang or hemorrhoids.

CCTV office has said that the final name has not yet been confirmed but some of the names Beijing considered are:

  • Harmonious Gate (和谐之门)
  • Happy Geometry (幸福几何)
  • Peak of the Ages (时代尖峰)
  • New Angle (新视角)
  • TV Magic Cube or TV Rubik's Cube (TV魔方)
  • Future Window (未来之窗)
  • Great Gate of Luck (幸运大门)
  • Pattern Space (样式空间, untranslatable pun in Chinese for CCTV)
  • 3D Window (多维窗).

Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas has said of the work that the “square circle expresses a kind of unity of the production process, the thought it expresses encourages connections and opposes isolation” (?!)

“Great Underpants” is my personal favorite!!