Netizens: New China building is 'pants'
From now until 2014, a new skyscraper will be built in China every five days, according to Chinese media.
One in particular has received a lot of attention this week.
Gate to the East (东方之门, also called by some Gate of the Orient), is a 300-meter, 69-story skyscraper under construction in Suzhou, a city of 10 million residents about 100 kilometers west of Shanghai.
The construction has inspired a great deal of criticism and humor among mainland Internet users for its shape, which users say resembles a giant pair of thermal pants or jeans.
"This [building] will work nicely as a jeans center," posted one anonymous netizen, as reported by China Youth.
"But does it look more like a pair of thermal pants or jeans? And it’s low-waist," the same netizen continued.
"I do admire the designer’s originality and creativity," mocked a netizen called Bi Cao Zhi Lan (碧草芝兰) on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. "This building is more explicit and vivid than the 'big pants' CCTV headquarters. It's an elongated and low-cut version."
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The 234-meter China Central Television headquarters in Beijing ignited controversy in China in 2009 for its resemblance to a pair of trousers. It eventually earned the nickname "big pants."
The new Suzhou landmark has led to the most widespread Internet meme in China this week.
Netizens are creating parody illustrations to ridicule Suzhou's Gate to the East. Some have transported celebrities and famous fictional characters -- from Marilyn Monroe to the Bumblebee -- to the top of the "pants." See examples here.
Liu Yang (刘洋), a Beijing-based Weibo user, mocked up a lighting design for the building. In his illustration, Liu uses red lights to punctuate a pair of women's lace underwear and fishnet stockings.
Liu's post was re-"tweeted" more than 10,000 times within an hour of being published on September 4.
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"I didn’t think that much when creating this,” Liu told CNNGo. "It was a sudden kick, like I am sharing a joke with everyone."
Some netizens suggested Gate to the East establish an official, and potentially risqué, relationship with London skyscraper 30 St. Mary Axe -- a building more commonly known as The Gherkin.
Worthy representation of Chinese culture
The RMB 4.5 billion (US$710 million) Gate to the East was designed by Edinburgh-based architectural firm RMJM, whose portfolio includes the Gazprom Headquarters and Business Center in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Capital Gate in Abu Dhabi.
The Suzhou landmark will have a 246-meter-tall, 68-meter-wide arch and is billed as the largest gate-shaped structure in the world.
According Xu Kang (徐亢), a high-ranking officer from Suzhou Qianning Property Management, the developer behind the building, the project attracted design bids from more than 10 international architecture firms.
RMJM’s design was chosen because it "uses simple geometric lines to reflect the outlines of a traditional Chinese vase-shaped gate and city gate," Xu told Xinhua, a state media organization.
"The design implies [China] is opening up its gate of history, culture and high-speed modern development to the developed Western world," Xu continued.
Upon its completion in 2013, the Gate to the East is expected to house a high-end shopping mall, five-star hotel, service apartments, offices and a museum.
The skyscraper stands at the crossroads of Yasu Lu and Xingyang Jie, near Jinji Lake in Suzhou Industrial Park.
Suzhou is widely known as a historic city famous for its winding canals and classical gardens.
Click here for a Guide to Suzhou.