On Friday, 27 October, SOHO China officially opened the real estate developer’s latest project to transform the Beijing landscape – Galaxy SOHO. During a three-hour event, which attracted thousands and thousands of visitors who eagerly explored the building’s unique open canyon design – a design simultaneously reminiscent of natural rock formations of The Wave at Coyote Buttes in the American Southwest and something out of Star Trek. As the guests entered Galaxy’s “creative canyon” they were drawn forward by a series of inviting fountains and mist features that begged to be interacted with. Children and adults alike delighted in playing in the mist, illuminated by blue lights, and walking in and out of a tunnel created by three-meter-high streams of water.
Female guides sporting neon pink, blue, orange, and green hair directed visitors and handed out postcard packets and glow-in-the-dark stars while waiters served finger food and beverages. The event culminated in the atrium of what will be a shopping mall (packed to capacity), where SOHO China CEO, Zhang Xin was interviewed along with architect Zaha Hadid. Although many were eager to hear comments from Hadid about the building’s design, it was clear that the majority of the audience was there to view and hear comments from what Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and Fortune Magazine have all described as one of the world’s most powerful women, Zhang Xin herself.
The two women described the ease of working together and the challenges of working in China. When the concept of “Chinese design” came up, Hadid pronounced that in a global age, it did not really matter where inspiration or design originated. Once a building is built in China, such as Galaxy, it becomes Chinese. She pointed out that it was Chinese people who would live and work in the building and that they would make it their own. Twenty years later, it will be viewed as an iconic Beijing structure, not a building designed by foreigners. Zhang also discussed the issue of copying and creativity, debunking the notion that China (or anyplace for that matter) lacks its own creativity. She talked about creating a culture of creativity and giving people the chance to make mistakes in order to learn.
Mace Rosen, Landscape Design Director at SOHO China, commented that with each new project SOHO develops they make improvements. As he watched children dashing about the fountains, he spotted one man walking directly down the archway created by the jets of water and exclaimed, “There it is! That’s what I want to see!” Basking in the success of a completed project, he quickly added, “Just wait until you see Wangjing SOHO. It’s going to be even better.”
Photos by Christopher Lay