From coin-shaped stock exchanges to light-up horseshoe hotels, Chinese developers cannot get enough of buildings that look like other things. The country’s latest case of large-scale mimicry is a government center in the Wujin district of Changzhou designed by Melbourne-based studio505 to resemble a pink lotus flower. Planned as the above-ground section of an existing building that sits underneath a man-made pond, the structure is described by the firm as an, erm, “intensely sensual and feminine blending of sculptural and biological form.” Apparently, since it opened in 2013, it’s become “one of the most popular icons” of the city. Which is saying something, considering it has the utterly wild World Joyland theme park to contend with.
The Wujin Lotus Conference Center hosts a number of a public galleries devoted to regional history, and in the central flower pod–“a revelation of space, cathedral-like and immensely uplifting,” with “varied white, sand, and stainless steel hexagon mosaic finishes”–a tangle of escalators, walkways, and sculptural displays sits beneath a huge spiky chandelier. The meeting rooms are similarly surreal, aiming at providing a “futuristic and elegant setting for meetings and debates at the highest levels of government.” The area surrounding the pond has been refurbished into public park, and at night, the exterior of the center lights up.
Projects like this certainly are “a rarity in a world of heavy, historically influenced government buildings,” but with each passing architecturally crazy year they become less so. Meanwhile, the world waits for the approval of China’s Hershey Kiss-shaped utopia.