Photo of the Week | 21.09.09 | New Oriental Remains

Posted by on Sep 21, 2009 in Editorial Photography | No Comments

CHINA. The burnt out remains of the 'New Oriental Hotel' in central Beijing. 2009

CHINA. The burnt out remains of the 'New Oriental Hotel' in central Beijing. 2009

This week’s ‘Photo of the Week’ comes from my wanderings on the streets of my Chinese hometown of Beijing. Last week I had a two-day assignment for my German agency Laif, who had arranged for me to shoot a story on Beijing’s infrastructure. Whilst meandering through Beijing’s CBD district, Guomao, the amazing light that afternoon drew my attention to the gleaming architecture of the area.

As they shone in the dying afternoon light, one building in particular drew my attention. It was the remains of the ‘New Mandarin Oriental Hotel’, which was burnt down in February by a rogue firework that started the blaze during Spring Festival celebrations. The building still stands in Guomao, next to the quite beautiful CCTV building (to the right, off camera).

I was drawn to this picture from my days shooting mainly because of the colours that grace the burnt girders and framework of what remains of the building. Against the background of a brilliant blue sky, which have been so rare in Beijing since I moved here 3 years ago, it was hard not to feel somewhat sad at this image before me. The vain attempt of the white barrier at the front of the tower, seems to try hard to distract and deflect attention away from the burnt corpse, but conversely seems to highlight the scale of the destruction.

If you’ve read this far, then here is a bonus second photo to accompany the first. It’s of the unharmed CCTV tower which still stands, just metres away from its burnt counterpart…..

CHINA. THE CCTV Building in Beijing's CBD. 2009

CHINA. THE CCTV Building in Beijing's CBD. 2009

Leave a Reply