China's Ban on 'Weird' Architecture is a Damn Shame

By Bryan Lufkin on at

China’s become known for some of the zaniest, prettiest, most daring architecture of the 21st century. Sadly, that’s all coming to a halt, as the government is now banning any new buildings that are dubbed “oversized”, “xenocentric”, or “weird”.

The government’s State Council made the announcement on Sunday. From here on out, it wants cityscapes that are “suitable, economic, green, and pleasing to the eye”. We reported on this potential ban back in 2014, but as of this week, the kibosh is now reality.



China's Ban on 'Weird' Architecture Is a Damn Shame
Beijing’s pants-shaped China Central Television Headquarters seen on the right. Photo: Leng Fi/Getty Images



In recent years, China’s really upped its architecture game. In 2013, the largest structure ever constructed was finished in Chengdu: the 1.7-million-square-metre New Century Global Centre, an 18-floor shopping centree that could fit 20 Sydney Opera Houses inside. And let’s not forget the gaming company CEO who secured the rights to build a headquarters shaped like the USS Enterprise from Star Trek. That’s only to name a couple.



China's Ban on 'Weird' Architecture Is a Damn Shame


That mothership-like monolith is Earth’s largest building. Inside is a manmade beach. Image: John Moore/Getty Images


China's Ban on 'Weird' Architecture Is a Damn Shame


The Guangzhou Circle office building has a 150-foot hole in the middle of it. Image: arbideejay1 YouTube


China's Ban on 'Weird' Architecture Is a Damn Shame


The Oriental Pearl TV Tower has come to closely identified with Shanghai’s skyline. Photo: AP


China's Ban on 'Weird' Architecture Is a Damn Shame


Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport’s futuristic terminal in 2015. Image: Shutterstock


Even chain hotels can be bold eye candy, like the Sheraton Huzhou Hot Springs resort:



China's Ban on 'Weird' Architecture Is a Damn Shame



The government document states that there will be a greater emphasis on prefabricated buildings going forward, and there will be a crackdown against designs or construction techniques it perceives to be wasteful, impractical, expensive, or aesthetically displeasing. To make it even more dystopian-nanny state, the document encourages the government to use satellites to monitor urban sprawl and make maps of new construction that can pinpoint anyone trying to break the new rules.

The government’s anti-fun campaign comes a couple months after the Central Urban Work Conference, a meeting aimed to address problems associated with China’s rapid urbanisation, like pollution, safety, and traffic jams. The South China Morning Post points out that the last such conference was held back in 1978, when only 18 per cent of Chinese lived in big cities. That figure now stands at 55 per cent.

Wanting to tackle urban woes is one thing. But sucking all the insane pizzazz out of architecture that’s become world renowned? That’s just a bummer. [China State Council and South China Morning Post]

Top image via Shutterstock