Monday, 22 February 2016

No More "Weird" Architecture

Does the CCTV headquarters qualify as "weird" architecture in China?
More directives are being issued by Beijing these days and the latest one was an interesting edict -- no more "weird" architecture, gated communities or illegal structures are to be built in China.

The directive from the State Council came two months after leaders met for the Central Urban Work Conference -- which was left held in 1978! One wonders why they procrastinated this long.

One of many "White House" replicas in the mainland...
Forty-eight years ago only 18 percent of the population lived in towns and cities, compared to 55 percent as of last year at 750 million people.

Nevertheless, the directive says urban architecture should be "suitable, economic, green and pleasing to the eye", in contrast to the "oversized, xenocentric, weird" buildings with no character or cultural heritage, that Chinese President Xi Jinping said reflected "a lack of cultural confidence and some city officials' distorted attitudes about political achievements".

One big building that might fit the bill is the CCTV tower, the Rem Koolhaas-designed building that locals nickname da kouchar (大裤衩) or "big underpants". Others are replicas of famous landmarks like the White House, Eiffel Tower, and London Bridge.

... Oh and Eiffel Towers can be spotted in around China too
Liu Shilin, head of the Institute of Urban Science at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said while "weird" has yet to be defined, the new policy was heading in the right direction.

"These buildings do not have much value in terms of use, and cost a lot to operate and maintain. Quite a few were torn down soon after completion," he notes.

However, the big concern is the opening up of gated communities that were built for expatriates and the wealthy to keep the riff raff out.

"Residents have all paid their share to use the roads in these communities. How can you open them up just like that? Opening them up will bring in noise pollution, air pollution and security risks. How can residents' safety and health be ensured?" said one online commenter.

Residents of gated communities are worried about opening up
By the way -- does Zhongnanhai also qualify as a "gated community"? Or perhaps it's in a category of its own...

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