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Beijing’s big cover up

Don’t you just love the image that Orproject has produced of happy people frolicking in a park under a futruristic canopy?

Don’t you just love the image that Orproject has produced of happy people frolicking in a park under a futruristic canopy? 

It is immensely seductive, but the architect has chosen the wrong problem to attempt to solve. It is suggesting that this could be a solution to the horrific pollution in Beijing. That is a truly terrifying story, with the filth in the air way above what is considered acceptable for human health and solutions are needed.

But the solutionshould come from an end to filthy coal burning, not this kind of futuristic project. There are several flaws inherent in the image itself. This is an elegant park not a vast industrial city. And the sky above is blue, which Beijing’s certainly isn’t, especially on the filthiest days. 

Far more seriously, a conditioned bubble over a whole city is just not the answer. Setting aside the massive technical challenges (this is modelled on the ETFE technology used at the Eden Project, but glasshouses are resolutely artificial and need intensive maintenance despite their relatively small size – anybody for a plague of pests?), it is just not the right way to go. It feels like a mid 20th Century science fiction story in which most of the earth (or in this case much of China) is uninhabitable, and only an artificially created environment remains liveable.

We don’t need technological fixes to living with the problem – we need to cure the problem. This feels too much like a step on the way to saying let’s abandon the filthy old Earth and colonise Mars instead.

But full marks to Orproject for knowing how to position itself in the public eye.

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