Broadcasting Space: China Central Television's New Headquarters

Shannon Mattern


China Central Television's spectacular new headquarters, set to open in 2009, has attracted attention from the design press since its designers were selected in an international competition in 2002. In this paper, I examine the Office for Metropolitan Architecture's design for the CCTV building, the rhetoric surrounding the design, and the media and spatial contexts in which the building will exist. I argue that, contrary to the designers' claims — and perhaps in spite of their best intentions — that the building will promote a more open, accessible state media, this steel and glass structure embodies tensions currently gripping the institution — tensions between official ideologies and the market, between the Party and the people, between propaganda and commerce. As the medium of television grows increasingly decentralized through digitization and mobilization, and as China’s state media faces increasing competition from other media in other forms and from other places, the symbolic significance of a huge, monolithic structure will become ever more important in signaling the continuing power of this state institution.

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