The detrimental problem resides not in the pace of development, but its prioritizing of a distorted image that projects only directly outward. This results in architectural designs of disparate facades and its spatial interior, urban designs of segregated classifications causing further exclusion of the old city in current development.
Qianmen Street is an exemplary of the contemporary Chinese mentality in its desperate search external display of identity. The practice of counterfeit architecture not only targets at western architecture that symbolizes capitalism and technology, nor their own traditional representatives, but the double projection of our own imagination of Chinese glamour in the foreigner’s mind.
The value of Qianmen Street is solely dependent on the re-creation of its historical façade. As the above image suggests, even at the spot, some still chose to have their pictures taken in front of the Qianmen image printed on the construction partition, rather than the actual street. The functionality of Qianmen is perhaps no more than a same-size billboard, an undermined physical experience that is no different from the presentation of a rendered image. In the era of internet and information overflow, the mind only reacts to flashy images and the physical being is put into question. Archtiecturally speaking, the necessity of space is becoming less definite as technology surpasses physical distance. Skyscrapers will become excessive as people move work to home, as online shopping replaces malls, and renderings suggest reality. Do we accept space as replaceable, program interexchangeable?