Sometimes what’s old deserves to stay up

A 1,300-year-old town I visited last summer in southwestern China’s Yunnan province was razed by a fire on Saturday.

According to CNN, the fire raged for more than 10 hours, destroying two-thirds of the 240 houses in the town of Dukezong. No casualties were reported.

The narrow, cobblestone streets that gave the ancient Tibetan town part of its charm made it difficult for firetrucks to maneuver. Arson has been ruled out, according to the report, but an investigation into the fire is ongoing.

The ancient town of Dukezong, as it looked in June when I visited.

The ancient town of Dukezong, as it looked in June when I visited.

The town’s well-preserved wooden houses are the latest in a long line of historically significant Chinese structures to disappear, many at the hands of man. Continue reading

Beijing, I can see your underpants

Beijing has the world cornered on ugly buildings. And perhaps none has drawn as much criticism as the CCTV Tower. This silver-gray monstrosity opened in 2008 and has been disappointing people looking up ever since.

Some say the 44-story skyscraper, which serves as the headquarters of China Central Television, resembles a pair of boxers shorts. Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, who designed the CCTV Tower, told CNN that it is “a building that is constantly mutable and that emanates creativity.”

I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.