China has a reputation for being big. It’s the third largest country in the world (assuming that we exclude Antarctica), it has the largest population of any country by far, and it now officially has the world’s biggest building. Behold the New Century Global Center, a building so incredibly massive that it has its own indoor beach.
That picture doesn’t do a very good job of capturing the mind-blowing size of this building. So, to put it into perspective, I’ll use the same comparison that NPR made. Inside the NCGC you could fit 20 Sydney Opera Houses, four Saint Peter’s Squares, or three Pentagon buildings. The building has two 1,000-room luxury hotels, a skating rink, and more stores than you can shake a stick at.
But we’re not terribly interested in all that. The thing that really sticks out to us is how well the architects used water in the design. It’s kind of hard to picture the NCGC when you’re just sitting there in front of your computer, but think about it: a building of that size could be oppressive. All of that concrete and glass could make you feel like you’re underground.
The architects countered that by filling the NCGC and the surrounding area with fountains, pools, ponds, water parks, and even a fake sun to give the structure an outdoorsy feel. And much like the NCGC building itself, these bodies of water are positively gargantuan (not as big as the world’s largest pool, but still pretty big). The pool of water at the front of the NCGC rivals most natural lakes. Combine that with the two bodies of water on either side of the NCGC building, and you’ve got a lot of H2O.
And we can’t talk about the NCGC without appreciating the positively gigantic indoor swimming pool. The beach was modeled after the coastlines of the Mediterranean Sea, complete with pristine white sands and Mediterranean-inspired buildings. The back wall of the beach (that is, the area in front of beachgoers when they lounge on the shore and look out across the water) is a massive digital screen that regularly displays gorgeous underwater scenes. Architects couldn’t fit the distant horizon of the Pacific Ocean under the NCGC’s roof, so this soothing digital display is the next best thing. Altogether, this impressive structure is sure to become a prominent image of Chinese culture along with the bubbly Beijing Water Cube.
This really goes to show you how much of a difference water and sunlight can make in a building. Without the bright, windowed rooftop and the sparkling bodies of water, the world’s largest building would probably look more like a concrete monstrosity rather than an architectural marvel.