The Temperament of a City: A Postscript to Post-Olympic Beijing


  • Xing Ruan



There are two kinds of amazement in art and architecture: one relies on the ingenuity of artifice to arouse a feeling of enchantment, while the other causes an awe-inspiring ecstasy through the shock of the new. Beijing may have won the race in the latter, with spectacles such as the Olympic Games, but does this prove that a new Beijing has been reinvented?

This paper examines the two kinds of amazement to examine two pairs of showcase Olympic buildings: 1) Beijing International Airport’s Terminal 3 and the Olympic Tennis Centre and 2) the Olympic Stadium and the CCTV Tower – to ask what they say about Beijing, and its temperament. It also questions whether or not it is possible to reinvent a new city once its temperament has been formed, and in what way this temperament may be related to the creation of public space, or place.

Author Biography

Xing Ruan

Xing Ruan is Professor of Architecture at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. His recent books include: Allegorical Architecture (2006), and New China Architecture (2006); Topophilia and Topophobia (co-editor, 2007), and Skyplane (co-editor, 2009). Xing has published on architecture and anthropology, architectural education, Louis Kahn, and modern and contemporary architecture in China and Australia.