A Little Bit of Beijing
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Authors: Li Han, Hu Yan

ISBN: 9787560852942

Publisher: Tongji University Press

A Little Bit of Beijing was published by Tongji Universtiy Press in September 2013 after 5 years of documentation, visualization, and compilation. 

The book is the finest visual presentation about contemporary Beijing. The authors took the architect's approach and depicted 3 most interesting and trendy places in Beijing, San Li Tun, 798, and Nan Luo Gu Xiang by the use of computer software. The book includes 3 volumes as one for each of the places, 1 small booklet Fiction, and 3 axonometric posters.

3 axonometric projection drawings present the general scenes of these districts. They are 3D maps as complicated as maze, encouraging the readers to review those familiar corners of the city from a new perspective. From San Li Tun to Nan Luo Gu Xiang, the extent of the detail and complication of the documentation increases, which could be seen from the data of the files: if taking the 3D models by SketchUp, the size of the total models for San Li Tun is 28.2 MB with 488,000 faces. It is 49 MB and 930,000 for 798 and 142 MB and 1,730,000 for Nan Luo Gu Xiang.

For each place, the authors selected 10 different venues respectively and create more detailed representation. There are 3 kinds of drawings included for each venue.

Line art: use the hatch function in CAD to render the individual axonometric projection and combine plan, section, elevation into one single piece as a tribute to Cubism. 

Graphic novel: inspired by American artist Chris Ware's signature style with orthographic projection, axonometric drawing and nearly mechanical flat line and color, the authors created some multi-angled series images with the existing 3D models and made 30 short graphic novels to tell the stories about those venues and added their own comments.

Color drawing: these drawings are not simply the documentation, but more as an artist interpretation of the atmosphere on the site. From composition, color, figure, to environment, the authors took the standards of an independent art piece to complete these drawings. If it is said that the work of A Little Bit of Paris by French artist Jean-Jacque Sempe used grand Paris as a tool to show the insignificance of the people coming from outside the city, here in A Little Bit of Beijing, the figures became the tool to show the grandness of Beijing.

The photography by architects Wang Hongyue and Lu Wenhui was threaded into the book as a contrast to the drawings, which evokes the readers to experience the subtle relationship between drawing and photography. All the photos were taken by traditional films and have the influence from the Japanese Provoke black and white photography in the 60s and 70s of the 20th century. Both the film photography and 3D model drawings are dedicated to concentrated observation.

There are 6 articles included in the book. Starting from Documentation focuses on the theoretical analysis on urban documentation and architecture representation. Stage, 798, and Memories of the Body records the fragments of the thinkings. Nan Luo Stories and A Brief Biography of Hu Tong tell the stories behind the transition of the city from a popular perspective. In the end of the documentation of each place, the authors also added a chronology to briefly recall their history, so that the readers could be given some background information about the current status of these places.

Besides the 3 volumes named after the locations, the authors presented the readers with a small booklet Fiction as some dessert to A Little Bit of Beijing. Fiction includes 6 short stories and 6 imaginary architectural drawings. They are the fictional architecture that the authors came up with when documenting the city. The architecture here became jokes, sarcasm, goofs, and unrealistic commercial ideas. The purpose of Fiction is to raise the funny and serious question: can architecture become entertainment and how to?