Few buildings have come to define modern China to the extent OMA’s CCTV headquarters has. Commissioned by the country’s state television broadcaster, the gravity-defying building was completed in 2012, and is widely considered a landmark representation of the confidence of contemporary China.

Founded in the 1970s in Rotterdam, the globally prolific practice is now headed by nine partners, including founder Rem Koolhaas, and Chris van Duijn, head of the firm’s Asia office. With projects such as CCTV and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange under its belt, the practice considers China a fascinating platform. It is currently working on a terraced, prism-shaped tower in Hangzhou and a waterfront conference centre in Shenzhen.

An architectural model of a building complex
Unicorn Island, Chengdu, China. © OMA

A partner since 2014, van Duijn has worked on many of OMA’s iconic projects, including the CCTV building. His approach balances enthusiasm about new challenges and OMA’s signature analytical approach, a self-proclaimed ‘critical curiosity’ that defines the studio’s attitude to every project.

‘It is perhaps a cliché, but when comparing working in China to working in Europe for instance, the biggest difference is the speed of the process; the number of months we can work in Europe on a design phase equals the number of weeks in China,’ he says. ‘One of the most exciting qualities when working in China is the optimism and the drive to develop something new and innovative. China thinks in possibilities, whereas Europe thinks in risk reduction.’§

An animation mock up of a building by the waterfront.
Qianhai International Financial Exchange Centre, Shenzhen, China, 2019. © OMA
 Fred Ernst
Chris van Duijn. Photography: Fred Ernst OMA