Tomorrow Square, Shanghai
Tomorrow Square and Me
A few years ago, I saw a quietly spectacular scene when I was walking about at People's Square in Shanghai. The sun was setting behind some of the towering buildings downtown, casting an odd sort of lighting over the whole place. I pulled out my little spy-camera-looking-gadget to see if I could capture the feel the sunset was casting over People's Square.
I didn't quite capture the feel of the sunset, nor the lighting it cast across the landscape that afternoon. But the resulting photo did draw my attention to the tall building standing just across from me, which seems to take centre stage in that photo. That building, I later investigated and discovered, houses the J W Marriott hotel and the attached shopping centre, Tomorrow Square.
Postmodern Architecture at Work
Over time, this building began to be that one that stood out for me along Shanghai's landscape — not just because it towers high above the others in People's Square, though it does. And not just because it is beautiful. In fact, I think that it isn't, except from certain angles.
But that gets to what stands out about this building, for me. It is an amazing example of a postmodern structure, in that it forces one to evaluate it from several different angles, with a different view emerging from each angle.
These photos are taken from various points walking around People's Square, from the eastern side around to the northwest corner. This hotel stands to the west of People's Square. If you note the clock tower beside Tomorrow Square, you can track the change in angles from which the building is being viewed.
Toying With the Senses
This building sits on a square-shaped base, but with the corners sort of "cut out," making it look very narrow at the very bottom (not quite visible in these photos). About two thirds of the way up, the top of the building is suddenly skewed. That is where the hotel's lobby is situated (it is offices below), and the rooms of the hotel are above the point where it is skewed.
The skewing of the building is the cause of the different perspectives it offers us from different angles. By taking what seems fixed, then twisting it just a bit, this building causes us to question what we know about it. Is it narrower at the bottom than at the top, or narrower at the top than the bottom? All of that depends on where you are standing. The dimensions, when you view the building, are less important than the impact it has on the senses. And that is all subjective.
A viewer of the building from the east side of People's Square would describe this building very differently from someone standing at the northeast corner.
Which would be right?
© 2010 Shelly Bryant
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