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China tries to ban to ‘weird’ buildings

Plans Approved for Oslo’s New Munch Museum | Ethiopian Dam Could Threaten Monuments of the Nile | Hundreds Petition to Save Sunderland Museum | Moroccan Cultural Centre to Open in Paris

23 February 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

China Calls for an End to ‘Bizarre’ Buildings | China’s State Council has issued a new directive advocating architecture that is ‘suitable, economic, green and pleasing to the eye’ at the expense of buildings considered ‘oversized, xenocentric, weird.’ It’s not hard to see why. China’s cities have become a playground for the world’s more ambitious architects, its skylines dominated by structures that range from the visionary to the downright bizarre, from replicas of the Eiffel Tower to doughnut-shaped skyscrapers. In 2014, President Xi Jinping criticised the boom in ‘weird architecture’, singling out Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren’s CCTV building in Beijing as an example. In the wake of the news, the BBC has collected an intriguing gallery of some of the more fanciful projects to spring up in China’s cities in recent years. For better or for worse, it’s the end of an era.

Plans Approved for Oslo’s New Munch Museum | No such architectural qualms in Norway, where Oslo’s city government has given the go-ahead to an unusual high-rise proposal for the city’s new Munch Museum. The plans have been controversial locally: another recent building project on Oslo’s waterfront was beset by cost overruns and concerns over leakage. However, politicians are convinced that the ‘Lambda’ building designed to house the Munch Museum will not exceed its projected costs of NOK 2.7 billion. Proposals to expand the existing Munch Museum at Tøyen, meanwhile, have been rejected.

Ethiopian Dam Could Threaten Monuments of the Nile | An enormous dam currently under construction on the Nile in Ethiopia could threaten the region’s cultural heritage, says the University of Cairo’s Dr Abdel-Aziz Salem. According to Al-Ahram Hebdo, (French language article) the immense size of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance dam might well endanger major archaeological sites on the banks of the Nile due to the immense volume of water stored in its reservoirs. It is thought that the resulting drop of water levels in Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan would cause significant changes to the soil, making the stability of important historical sites uncertain.

Hundreds Petition to Save Sunderland Museum | A petition to save Sunderland’s Monkwearmouth Station Museum from closure has attracted hundreds of signatures, reports the Sunderland Echo. Earlier this month, councillors announced that the 40-year-old former railway station may be in line for temporary or permanent closure due to budget cuts and falling visitor numbers. The city council recently suffered cuts totalling £46 million, leading councillor John Kelly to suggest that the museum be temporarily ‘mothballed’ in the hope that outside sponsorship can be found. Despite the petition, the future looks uncertain for the much loved museum. What’s for sure, though, is that such stories are becoming depressingly familiar.

Moroccan Cultural Centre to Open in Paris | The Moroccan government is pouring some $7.4 million into a new cultural centre in Paris (French language article) – the first of its kind to open in the French capital. The new building will be constructed at 115 boulevard Saint-Michel, an address owned by the Kingdom. The project will be helmed by architect Tarik Oualalou.

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