Monday, 22 October 2018

Funny, Weird, and Explicit: A Look at Beijing’s Humorous Building Nicknames

Funny, Weird, and Explicit: A Look at Beijing’s Humorous Building Nicknames
28 Sep

Last week the government shocked the public with yet another demonstration of flair, creativity, and verbalism by calling the capital’s new airport the only thing that it could possibly be called: the Beijing Daxing International Airport. Luckily, as is the tradition at the unveiling of new iconic buildings in Beijing, the Chinese public is sure to heed the call to once again flex their imaginative muscles and undo the apparent minutes of hard work that has gone into “describing” our new mammoth airport down south.

The opening of China’s biggest airport in June 2019 will also mark the closure of the country’s oldest, Beijing Nanyuan, which will be dismantled after a 108-year-strong history of confusing the shit out of expats when they realize they’re not actually flying out of Beijing Capital International Airport.Beijing Daxing International Airport is unlikely to cause the same confusion given its whopping size, including a 600,000sqm main concourse (equivalent to 80 football pitches) and the largest plane hangar in the world. Once complete, the new airport will be able to accommodate 72 million passengers per year and will hit maximum capacity in 2025.

That’s all fair and well but without a proper nickname can this feat in transport architecture truly join Beijing’s best-known structures? For a little inspiration, let’s first take a look at the some of the other epithets the public have chosen to replace the otherwise stuffy official monikers of other buildings around town (often to the chagrin of the government):

CCTV Headquarters

Probably the best-known example of the cheeky humor of the Beijing populace, upon its completion the CCTV Headquarters was quickly renamed, supposedly by one particularly inspired taxi driver, as “Big Underpants” (大裤衩 dà kùchǎ). Perhaps thankfully, “Hemorrhoids” didn’t stick.

Beijing National Stadium

A close second place as Beijing’s most iconic building, the Beijing National Stadium was the home of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, taking instead the much more fetching name of the “Bird’s Nest” (鸟巢 niǎocháo). It helped that it shares the name with one of China’s most prized dishes: the swallow’s nest, which has been used in cooking for almost 400 years. However, with the recent mediocre attempts to repurpose the stadium, it’s unlikely that it’ll be around anywhere near that long.

Beijing National Aquatics Center

Likewise, the Beijing National Aquatics Center didn’t maintain its forgettable name for long, almost instantly being renamed the “Water Cube” (水立方 shuǐ lìfāng) befuddling physicists with the idea that water could be both a liquid and a cube.

National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA)

Opened in 2007, the National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA) soon became known colloquially as the Giant Egg (巨蛋 jù dàn) thanks to its massive ellipsoid dome. Surrounded by a shallow pool of water, it remains one the best-looking buildings Beijing’s got.

People’s Daily Building

Well, umm, no imagination necessary here. Luckily, upon completion, the People’s Daily Building had dodged its near certain nickname of 屌炸天 diǎo zhà tiān by transforming into something altogether more graceful:

With those out of the way, it’s time to conjure up some playful suggestions as to what could work for the Beijing Daxing International Airport come summer next year (warning: let’s hope that the Beijing public can do better than this).

The Orange Starfish

OK, I did warn you. But actually, this is the forerunner for the nickname crown, with many astute netizens dubbing the new terminus the Big Starfish in 2016, before steel even hit soil.

Weird Five-Pronged Foam Frisbee Thing

Certainly not the catchiest name, this one’s unlikely to stick given that these things never really took off (literally and figuratively), unlike what all those plane will be doing out of Daxing.

Platypus Palace

Alternatively, it could be named after everyone’s favorite weirdo mammal, one that lays eggs instead of live young, can be milked, has a venomous hind spur, and who sports a bill that looks very much like one of the new airport’s six prongs. I see a mascot in the works if nothing else.

This Rendering of a Fidget Spinner

And with that, I give up.

No matter what appellation eventually wins, Beijing will be able to hold its chin high knowing that it is the proud owner of the world’s largest airport. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t inherit the delays that precede the city’s other airports’ reputations.

READ: 10 Things That Would Make Beijing’s New Airport Not Just the World’s Largest, But the World’s Best




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