其中一些建筑与奥运会有关——如蓝色“水泡”墙在暗夜中灼灼生辉的水立方(Water Cube)游泳中心；由于其联锁钢梁结构而被称为鸟巢(Bird's Nest)的国家体育场(National Stadium)。
但建筑热潮不仅仅与奥运有关。工人们正在进行中央电视台(CCTV)新楼的收尾工作。荷兰建筑师雷恩•库哈斯(Rem Koolhaas)设计的这座大楼是一项工程成就，把两座Z字形塔楼连在了一起——库哈斯的一位同事称之为“亲密接触时刻”(moment of intimacy)。（还不是很清楚该怎么形容它的北京人，给它起的礼貌绰号是“大裤衩”。我可不会告诉你那个粗鲁的绰号。）
在一本关于李约瑟(Joseph Needham)的新书*中，西蒙•温彻斯特(Simon Winchester)趣味盎然地讲述了中国过去是怎样的一个科技超级大国的故事。李约瑟是一位剑桥(Cambridge)学者，一生大部分时间都在记录中国的科学成就。书末用一份长达10页的清单列举了中国的各项发明——李约瑟曾计算过，一个世纪有15个。许多人知道指南针、造纸和印刷术来自中国，但仅以字母“S”开头的条目就有37个，包括地震仪、水闸、钢铁生产以及李约瑟所称的“尿类固醇”。然后在15世纪左右，创新停止了——这就是西方人所称的“李约瑟之谜”(Needham question)。这些新标志性建筑的规划者所传递的隐含信息是：李约瑟之谜已经解决了，中国又回来了。
*《热爱中国的人——解开中国之谜的怪诞科学家的神奇故事》(The Man who Loved China – The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom)（哈珀柯林斯(HarperCollins)出版），作者：西蒙•温彻斯特
阅读本文章英文,请点击 WHY THE BOOM IS NOT BUILDING A COOL CHINA
WHY THE BOOM IS NOT BUILDING A COOL CHINA
By Geoff Dyer
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Atheist China is now the site for a very secular form of pilgrimage. Architects from around the world are thronging to Beijing to marvel – and occasionally snipe – at the epic new buildings springing up across the capital.
Some of these are related to the Olympics – the Water Cube swimming centre, whose blue, bubbled walls glow in the dark; and the National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest because of its interlocking steel girders.
But the building boom is not just about the games. Workers are putting the final touches to the new Chinese Central Television tower, designed by Rem Koolhaas, the Dutch architect. The project is an engineering achievement that involves two Z-shaped towers that were joined together in what one of Mr Koolhaas's colleagues described as a “moment of intimacy”. (The polite nickname for the tower among Beijingers, who still do not quite know what to make of it, is “short trousers”. I will not tell you the rude one).
For all the talk about how well organised the games are likely to be and how efficient has been the construction, the buzz surrounding Beijing's buildings raises another interesting question in this Olympics year – is China now cool?
This is not as flippant as it may sound, but an important issue for business, technology and even geopolitics. China has repeatedly shown it can make cheap and reliable products. But a Cool China would be a place with a sense of style and home-grown brands young people the world over would want to emulate, and it would be a freewheeling place where innovation flourished.
The story of how China used to be a technology superpower is entertainingly told in a new book by Simon Winchester* about Joseph Needham, the Cambridge academic who spent much of his life chronicling its scientific achievements. At the end of the book is a 10-page list of Chinese inventions – 15 a century, Needham once calculated. Many people know the compass, paper and the printing press came from China but just under the letter “S” there are 37 items, including the seismograph, sluices, steel production and what he calls “Steroids, urinary”. Then some time around the 15th century, the creativity stopped – an issue known in the west as the “Needham question”. The implicit message from the planners of these new trophy buildings is that the Needham question has been resolved:
China is back.
You cannot escape the restless ambition and sense of renewal in China these days, from the uber-fashionable modern-art galleries and grunge music scene in Beijing to the dizzying statistics about university graduates and patent approvals. Yet somehow the end result never quite matches the hype.
The excitement generated by the Olympics should make it the perfect time for Chinese companies to sell themselves to the public, and local television is full of snappy adverts extolling athletic prowess. But it is hard to think of too many Chinese brands that have really captured the imagination of the public at home – let alone abroad.
Many people had high hopes for Li Ning, a sports shoe company started by an Olympic gold-medal winning gymnast. Yet in terms of aspirational appeal, it is still running well behind industry giants Nike and Adidas, which will have all their big names in Beijing this summer. Li Ning's attempt to gain international appeal has been scatter-gun – it has signed a deal with Shaquille O'Neal but at the Olympics it will also be sponsoring the team from Sudan.
In spite of the raw numbers about research and development spending, it is still not easy to find genuinely innovative companies in China. The technology drive is hampered by lots of things – lack of finance for untried companies, the dominance of stodgy state-owned companies, a big emphasis on quantity over quality in scientific work and rote learning in schools. But there is also political meddling. The control freakery of the authorities reaches down into the basics of scientific research, with too much emphasis on political lobbying and too little peer review.
Open societies might be full of complications, delays and political grandstanding but they are also good at creativity and invention. For all the dynamism in China today, it is still a country where the dead hand of the party state is always in the background, from the monitoring of internet chatrooms to the limited space for civil society to the harassment – sometimes petty, sometimes nasty – of dissenters.
In a way, Beijing's new icons tell a similar story. The buildings are not the fruits of home-grown creativity: they are designed by foreign architects and their function is often expressing state power. As Mr Koolhaas's critics love to point out, his CCTV tower will house an organisation whose output is sometimes little more than party propaganda.
From the environment to education, so much of what happens in China over the next couple of decades will depend on how quickly the Communist party lets go its tight grip and allows society to breathe. The same goes for innovation, culture and the birth of Chinese cool. It is the question that future Needhams will be asking.
Planet Olympia 奥运建筑
『科学频道首页』 『本栏页首』 『关闭窗口』