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CCTV Headquarters Architect: Rem Koolhaas Model by: Etienne Ma TA: Julia Barber

CCTV HQ BACKGROUND Description: Located in Beijing, Koolhaas’s China Central Television (CCTV) Headquarters Building is 44 storeys tall, measuring 234m and 194m in height. The building is in a deconstructivist style, and its most distinctive feature is its hollow center and irregular tube-like structure, which is created by having two towers connected at a 90 degree angle at both the top and bottom to form one continuous loop. The building is connected above the 37th floor and below the 10th floor. The gross floor area of the building is 540,000 meters squared. On the surface of the building, there is a network of latticework that provides the main support for the structure, with areas of denser diagonal grid patterns indicating the greater the support. Some of the challenges of constructing this building included its location in a seismic zone, as well as the necessity of constructing it as three separate buildings before joining them in May 2007. Beijing residents have nicknamed the building “giant shorts.”

History: The CCTV Headquarters was commissioned to be unveiled prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Office for Metropolitan Architecture won the contract to construct the CCTV Headquarters, and the architects behind the design were Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren of OMA. The Headquarters houses the administrative functions of the CCTV along with news, broadcasting, studios, and productions, and is also part of a larger plan to expand the capacities of the CCTV from 13 to 200 channels. In 2009, a fire ignited by fireworks on the day of the Lantern Festival (9th February, 2009), caused a building adjacent to the CCTV Headquarters, the Television Cultural Center, to catch on fire. According to government reports, the landmark building was undamaged.


CCTV HQ MODEL MAKING Initial Proposal: I intend on building a scaled model of Koolhaas’s CCTV Headquarters by laser cutting sheets of acrylic and potentially securing them together via a system of interlocking teeth. I will also laser cut the criss-cross latticework that is on the building onto the sheets of acrylic to accurately emulate the appearance of Koolhaas’s building. This will entail first determining the appropriate dimensions and angles of the building’s contours, then constructing that digitally via Adobe Illustrator and/or Google SketchUp. This will be followed by a period of experimentation with the laser cutter and acrylic material in order to determine a method of fixation that will adequately provide the structural support necessary for the model to stand upright.

Adjustments to Proposal: While the early-stage planning of the model remained the same, I realized that having interlocking sheets of acrylic would expose the edges of the building in an aesthetically unpleasing way, as well as pose some structural difficulties for myself as a first-time model maker. I entertained the idea of using a CNC machine to carve the entire model out of a single wood block, but due to limitations to Brown’s CNC machine, the model would have been limited to less than 7 inches in height; I would also have needed to basically move the model as it was being carved in order to get the shape I desired. I then thought of having a system of vertical supports across which each floor of the CCTV HQ would be shown, with each floor being carved out of individual layers of masonite. The building would then be covered in a sheet of tracing paper with etched-on lattice-work, exposing the interior of the building. However, the complexity of the design, as well as the over 100 separate pieces necessary for the construction posed a significant challenge, and I opted to go for a separate approach.

CCTV HQ MODEL MAKING Final Proposal: Materials: - Two sheets of 2-ply museum board - Spray adhesive - Construction glue Process: - First construct a 3D digital model using Google Sketchup - Deconstruct the planes of the model and import them into Adobe Illustrator as vectors - Add lattice-work onto vectors - Determine system of connecting/folding sheets to minimize the number of cuts necessary and maximize the support provided by the folds.

Process: Initial sketch

Google SketchUp Rendings



Individual Planes







Fitting the pieces together, adding tabs for glue



Adding lattice-work, demarcating where the laser-cutter should cut

CCTV HQ MODEL MAKING Process: Laser cutter in action

Practice models 1&2

Laser-cut lattice-work


Final model

CCTV HQ REFLECTIONS The Importance of Planning and Protyping: I spent more time researching, conceptualizing, and prototyping for my model than actually building it. Because I had so thoroughly explored the various manners by which I could construct the model and also went through more than 3 prototypes to determine the optimal way to build the model, when it finally came time to the building of the actual model, there were relatively few hiccups during the process. Putting in the time ahead of building it, as opposed to rushing head-on into the building process, is what I would attribute the relative success of my CCTV model.

The Role of Technology: I was astounded by the detail and precision that readily-available technology can provide. The power afforded by software like Google SketchUp, Adobe Illustrator gave me a way to create a model that fit together perfectly. It helped that I had access to a laser-cutter that could carve out the pieces in the exact dimensions specified by my Illustrator files.

Concerns: During the building process, I was always concerned that my initial Google Sketchup model was wrong, given the fact that every single part of my project was derived from those plans. I was also concerned about the structure itself, and whether it could support itself - or topple over, given the size of the overhang joining the roofs of the two towers. Luckily, it didn’t.

Final Thoughts While it was a lot of work and could be incredibly frustrating at times, I had a lot of fun building this model, especially coming from a background of English and Political Science, where writing papers is the norm. It was gratifying to put in an effort to actually create something tangible and ‘make something’, and during the process I was able to appreciate, to some extent, the process that architects undergo when designing a building.

CCTV HQ BIBLIOGRAPHY • Wikipedia - China Central Television Headquarters: • Arup (Engineering firm behind the construction)– Overview: How to Build a ‘Loopscraper’: Services Engineering Design: •Peter Bach – CCTV Building, A Structural Design Overview: •Structurae Overview: •ArchINFORM Overview: •ArchSpace: •Emporis Overview: •The Guardian:

CCTV Headquarters Architect: Rem Koolhaas Model by: Etienne Ma TA: Julia Barber

CCTV HQ Model Making  

Project for HIAA0860: Contemporary Architecture at Brown University

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