Heaven in Guangzhou
For years, Mark Hemel and Barbara Kuit of the small architecture bureau IBA in Amsterdam focused on taking part in important architecture contests without ever being able to complete a project. Until 2004, when their design for the highest TV tower in the world was chosen and destined to be realised.
Mark Hemel (his surname is Dutch for ‘Heaven') is a great perfectionist. Since the start of this gigantic project he's been visiting Guangzhou, China for more than 50 times to retain control of his design and to protect it. He already made the design extra complex so that it would be almost impossible to change it. Nevertheless, the tower did not become what he had in mind. Every visit to the tower is in a way a disappointment to him. Can this tower be his visiting card? What is left of his design?
Mark's vision on architecture is innovative and experimental. He wants to put something on the map with significance for following generations, something that changes the world. He compares it with buildings in New York such as the Empire State Building. This was also built by someone who wanted something extreme and was unwilling to make any concessions. As a result, we now have a city like New York. This is why Mark also wants to go to the extreme, for the extreme.
While there is still no follow-up assignment and a lot of bills to be paid for the expenses of the contests they participated in, Mark and Barbara continue to work vigorously and optimistically on new international contests. It's uncertain if the long-awaited opening of the TV-tower in Guangzhou will bring them new commissions. Will it end up to be a ‘once in a lifetime' opportunity, the top of Mark's career, or the recognition where he longs for?
Directing: Bert Oosterveld & Peter Franken