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2011/95/1 Architectural model, China Central TV Headquarters, wood / plastic / electronic components, designed by Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren, Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Arup, England, 2004, made by Micromodel, Beijing, China, 2004-2008.. Click to enlarge.

Architectural model, China Central TV Headquarters designed by OMA, 2004

The model of the CCTV Headquarters documents a high-profile project by one of today's best-known architects.

Rem Koolhaas' career resembles that of Le Corbusier: both came to architecture after beginning careers in other creative disciplines, both are almost as well-known for their writing as for their buildings. Both are highly programic, producing buildings demonstrative of their theoretical stance. They are also personalities with a public presence beyond architecture.

In other respects …


Object No.


Object Statement

Architectural model, China Central TV Headquarters, wood / plastic / electronic components, designed by Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren, Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Arup, England, 2004, made by Micromodel, Beijing, China, 2004-2008.

Physical Description

The 1:500 scale architectural model depicts the block containing the CCTV Headquarters and the Beijing Television Cultural Centre, and surrounding park lands. The roads surrounding the buildings are labelled, 'East 3rd Ring Road', 'Guanghua Road' and 'Chaoyang Road'. The model sits on a low plinth and is covered by an acrylic lid, with a printed label attached to front of the plinth reading, 'CCTV New Headquarters Beijing / [Chinese characters] / 1:500' / ARUP'. A small power switch is present at the back of the model, with a white cord coming from underneath, used for powering the building lights.


Maker's name is printed along each lower right hand side of the model, 'http://micromodel.com MICRO'



700 mm


1280 mm


1215 mm



Rem Koolhaas (b.1944) grew up in Rotterdam and Jakarta, where his novelist father ran a cultural program for some years. Koolhaas studied and worked in screen writing before commencing architecture studies during his mid-20s.

In 1975 he co-founded OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture) in London. OMA's members have included Zaha Hadid and Madelon Vriesendorp. Most of OMA's early projects were unbuilt; its first major project was the Netherlands Danse Theatre, completed 1987 at The Hague.

However Koolhaas had already gained fame for his 1978 book Delirious New York, written during an academic internship in New York. Delirious New York is a breathless history and celebration of New York's twentieth century architecture as well as a critique of Modernism and its attempts to 'program' and control urban life. Although he came to prominence during the 1980s, Koolhaas displayed scant interest in post-modernism's flirtation with historic motifs and forms. However engagement with contemporary urban vernacular is central to Koolhaas' work. He rejected architectural norms of form and proportion, arguing that the 20th century's innovation of large structures rendered such rules irrelevant.

Koolhaas stands apart from his profession in arguing that architecture has scant impact on the happiness and well-being of society and his members. Chaos and difference are essential conditions of modernity, impossible to discipline, and the architect has limited power to create order and serenity. Generic urban architecture, Koolhaas claims, provides the essential conditions for human well-being. It is the role of architects to create spectacles and coincidences - Koolhaas believes that unplanned meetings and juxtapositions are essential elements of urbanism and that architecture should encourage rather than discipline urban randomness.

Ventures into retail design - including designing Prada stores in New York and Los Angeles - is evidence of Koolhaas' determination to adapt architecture to contemporary urbanism. Koolhaas claims that his architecture embodies the actualities of modern cities; his critics claim that this constitutes a cynical acceptance of the western urban landscape which is erasing local identity and architecture worldwide.

Since the 1990s OMA has flourished into a major international practice, working on several projects simultaneously. It currently comprises seven partners and a staff of around 280 architects, designers and researchers working in offices in Rotterdam, New York, Beijing and Hong Kong.

Notable projects by OMA include:

Grand Palais, Lille (1988)
Nexus Housing, Fukuoka (1991)
Kunsthal, Rotterdam (1993)
Maison a Bordeaux (1998)
Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, Las Vegas (2001)
McCormick Tribune Campus Centre, Chicago (2003)
Seattle Central Library (2004)
Netherlands Embassy, Berlin (2004)
Casa de Musica, Porto (2005)
University Museum of Art, Seoul (2005)
Wyley Theatre, Dallas (2009).

OMA is also a prolific publisher of Koolhaas' writing as well as of the research projects behind its building design. Like Le Corbusier's many publications, the Koolhaas/OMA library is notable for its graphic design which has been influential on contemporary publishing. Notable in this respect is S,M,L, XL (1995) a 1300-page survey of OMA's work which has been extensively pirated, copied and reprinted; its much-imitated graphic design is the work of Canadian designer Bruce Mau.

Arup & Associates is an international engineering firm based in London. Arup has offices in eighty countries and its engineers have been part of several thousand large projects worldwide. Arup was founded by Danish engineer Ove Nyquist Arup (1885-1988) who established his reputation with Highpoint, Berthold Lubetkin's pioneering London apartment tower (1935). Arup's work on the Sydney Opera House project added further lustre and boosted the firm's expansion. Arup's engineers have worked closely with numerous notable architects; Koolhaas/Arup projects include a pavilion for the Serpentine Gallery, London.



A design by Rem Koolhaas and Ole Sheerin of OMA won the tender for the CCTV HQ in partnership with East China Architectural Design & Research Institute (ECADI). Arup (Arup & Partners) was the structural engineer.

The building is formed by two leaning towers, joined at the apex to form a continuous loop. The irregular steel grid on the building's surface is its supporting structure, a visible expression of the forces travelling through the tube frame; the smaller the diagonal pattern, the stronger the load and the greater the support. The braced tube structure also gives the building the required robustness to withstand the likely seismic activity in the area.

The interior of the building is formed by a series of spaces joining the various departments of CCTV into one structure. Koolhaas also introduced a variety of public routes and spaces throughout the site. OMA's rationale for the CCTV Centre's design is as follows:

'CCTV's distinctive loop aims to offer an alternative to the exhausted typology of the skyscraper. In spite of their potential to incubate new cultures, programs, and ways of life, most skyscrapers accommodate merely routine activity, arranged according to predictable patterns. Formally, their expressions of verticality have proven to stunt the imagination: as verticality soars, creativity crashes.

Instead of competing in the hopeless race for ultimate height and style within a traditional two-dimensional tower 'soaring' skyward, CCTV proposes a truly three-dimensional experience, culminating in a canopy that symbolically embraces the entire city. CCTV consolidates all its operations in a continuous flow, allowing each worker to be permanently aware of her colleagues - a chain of interdependence that promotes solidarity rather than isolation, collaboration instead of opposition'.

The CCTV HQ neighbours the Beijing Television Cultural Centre also designed by Koolhaas and OMA as part of the same commission. The Cultural Centre was the media centre for the 2008 Olympics. As well as studios, a theatre and restaurants it houses a five-star hotel and is open to the public.The Cultural Centre was severely damaged by fire during 2009, when a fireworks display for Chinese New Year sparked a serious conflagration. It is still under repair.

This model was made by Micomodel, Beijing. Since 2009 it has been displayed in the foyer of Arup's Sydney office.


Credit Line

Gift of Arup Sydney, 2011

Acquisition Date

5 October 2011

Cite this Object


Architectural model, China Central TV Headquarters designed by OMA, 2004 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 25 June 2021, <https://ma.as/422088>


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