Over recent years, architects working on China’s skyline have been allowed to let their imaginations run wild. As you will see from the images below, the sky is the limit – nothing is too strange. There are circular buildings, office blocks built like a mobile phone, a pair of trousers and even a winky.
At the start of the 21st century, cities were competing with each other to become international hubs. A snazzy building, they thought, might capture international attention, tourism and, most importantly, business.
Although the buildings have served to entertain humans within and beyond the borders of China, this concrete fad may now be over. Unfortunately for us, a recent announcement from the country’s State Council and the Communist Party’s Central Committee, will make these wondrous constructions a thing of the past.
The report bans “oversized, xenocentric, weird” architecture. What a pity. The government is cracking down for a number of reasons, firstly, most of the buildings are designed by Western architects who enjoy the freedom of designing mad stuff. In their home countries they’d never get away with it.
In 2008, New York architect Steven Holl told The New York Times Magazine:
“In America, I could never do work like I do here. We’ve become too backward-looking. In China, they want to make everything look new. This is their moment in time. They want to make the 21st century their century.”
The newly released regulations ask that buildings be “suitable, economic, green, and pleasing to the eye” – they are hoping for a move back towards more traditional designs.
Although China’s crack down on “fun” buildings seem a little Draconic (and that that type of ruling would be no surprise to anyone) there are other reasons. The look of a building has become so important that other, more important, aspects have been overlooked – safety, for instance. As an exmple, in 2004 one of these weird building’s roof collapsed.
Additionally, spiralling building costs have brought drama and corruption. Corruption is not something that the Chinese government is a stranger to, but they would rather keep that type of thing internal and out of the public gaze.
It’s a sad day for people who like weird buildings, but at least they have left us some memories:
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