Making the Reddest Square Green

7 Comments
Distraction Free

Here’s a cool idea: Tear up the gray concrete of Tiananmen Square and turn it into a Chinese version of New York’s Central Park. One leading architect is suggesting something along those lines, the Guardian reports (via CDT):

Ma Yansong, an award-winning urban planner, says the grey concrete symbol of China’s red politics should be given a green makeover. To heighten awareness about the environment, he believes the Beijing square should be transformed into a park and forest. In his model, the vast expanse of paving slabs outside the Forbidden City are replaced by trees and grass. There are lush thickets around the mausoleum containing Mao Zedong’s embalmed body and a verdant entrance to the Great Hall of the People.

“We want to transform this empty political square into something that can be enjoyed,” Mr Ma said. “Our aim is to propose not to criticise, to raise the issue of public space. The way we do our architecture is to show that we can come up with our own solutions. We don’t just take orders. That is why we want to show this project to the public first.”

What if Tiananmen Sq. looked like this?

Ma tells the Guardian that there’s nothing sacred about Tiananmen. It’s not traditional, and it’s not really Chinese. Rather, it’s an homage to Moscow’s Red Square, built for military parades and grandstanding. As a symbol, it represents the past much more than the future.

The idea is more than a little controversial, though, so much that Chinese media can’t report on it, the Guardian says in a video report.

Environmental benefit aside, it would certainly give the place a new image, maybe one with fewer blood stains and more grass stains. I wonder what the people who were there 18 years ago would think about the idea.

Talk on Making the Reddest Square Green


7 Comments
  1. I think it’s a fantastic idea. I think it’ll get a lot of public support too – as I can’t count how many Chinese have told me that they finally made their pilgrimage to Tiananmen only to be let down by the massive and ugly uselessness of it.

  2. I personally like the square and am firmly of the opinion that people already enjoy it. Instead, razing the Maosoleum and erecting a little forest in its place sounds like a great idea.

  3. Profile photo of Chris

    There’s a cynical part of me that says, were this carried through, it would just be more places for hawkers to sneak up on me with Mao watches and promises of an art exhibition.

    Still, it can’t hurt the view. I couldn’t see across the Square when I was in Beijing in February, and my lungs really didn’t like me afterwards.

  4. This idea also came up in my mind when I saw
    the square once.

    I heard, however, that every city in china should provide a large square in order to show her splendor and greatness.

    Comment of chinese:
    “Forest is dirty and ugly, filthy earth…
    we chinese should banish it completely and forever. Well, trimmed lawns and flowers are
    acceptable.”

  5. Profile photo of Sean

    I don’t ever see this happening unless people want the plainclothes police hiding in every bush and where would the flag ceremony take place?

    The transformation in foreign eyes is a great idea, but too many complications with what the square symbolizes and what people see its purpose as.

    They do not see it as a copy of Red Square (unfortunately the real red square is much nicer and actually has places to sit) and also sybolizes a great period where millions went to see Mao and where new China was declared. These things are considered glorious and will not ever be up for reconsideration.

  6. This is a great idea to me, as I didn’t like the feeling of the square myself, especially around flag-lowering time. But I don’t live in Beijing; ultimately the people of the city should decide. The ruling DPP in Taiwan are trying to do away with the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, but that is more about politics than just green space. It should be up to the city’s residents.

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