The (dubious) Honor
September 6, 2012

– Dev Lewis

Everyone loves a story about underpants, and this week in China, underpants have been the story of the week.  Confused?

Under construction in Suzhou, one of Shanghai’s satellite cities on eastern seaboard, is a 270 yard-high skyscraper by British architecture practice RMJM. Built with the vision of creating the “Gate to the East”, it is set to become the largest gate-shaped structure in the world.  According to the Chinese company that is funding this project, Suzou Chainaing Real estate Co, it will be the dramatic iconic ‘gateway’ to the city of Suzhou, it says posted on the RMJM’s website.

The people of China however, see a different image, and recently the building has begun to face a torrent of abuse and criticism from across the Chinese interweb, who tease it of looking like long underpants.   Users on microblog Sina Weibo began the attack. “This should be called the Pants of the East, not the Gate of the East”, while some suggested it would be humiliating to walk under it, likening it to crawling between someone else’s legs. Before long, the question was not if it looked like underpants, but whether it is even uglier that the CCTV building in Beijing, which leads the standing in this category.  A poll on Sina Weibo asked users to decide between the two, and recent results show that 11249 thousand users believe this building to be the ugliest, and only 2418 going with the CCTV building.  Like many stories in China, after stirring up the microblogs, media and newspaper outlets Like many stories in China, after the conversation was first started by Chinese netizens, soon all the local publications ran stories, with editorials across the country attacking the architectural aesthetics behind the project.

The Chinese are known to add a dramatic effect, be it praise or criticism, and this was no different. Looking at it more objectively( see above) the structure doesn’t quite scream underpants, although you can see where the image of an undergarment might appear.  The architects behind this project probably are not too pleased to the see fruits of their labour being derided so humorously. Although, now the entire country knows of their creation, and perhaps the ‘any publicity is good publicity’ applies, because the RMJM building now holds the (dubious) honor to be the ugliest in China.

To see what Chinese underpants look like click here 


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