China to Ban Unusual Architecture
This piece originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.
Visitors to China frequently admire the country’s love for unusual buildings. There’s the sky-high diamond-shaped Famen Temple near Xi’an, Beijing’s geometrically-challenging CCTV headquarters, the Starship Enterprise office building in Fujian, Wuxi’s teapot-shaped tourist center, and the snail-like Henan Art Center in Zhengzhou to name just a few. For better or worse, China has earned an international reputation as a playground for architects.
Now, that could all change. According to CNN, China has taken the move to ban weird architecture. On the heels of the nation’s first Central Urban Work Conference since 1978, China's State Council released new guidelines for the country’s urban planning. The rules could dramatically change the skyline in some of the China’s cities—and ruin the annual contest of ranking China’s ugliest buildings.
In a statement, the Chinese government said it is forbidding the construction of "bizarre architecture that is not economical, functional, aesthetically pleasing or environmentally friendly.” Instead, the government hopes to fill cities with buildings that are "economic, green, and beautiful."
The regulations will curb the trend of "bizarre architecture” by encouraging the use of prefabricated buildings. The statement projected that in 10 years, 30 percent of China’s new buildings will be prefabricated. It’s a move that the government says will help limit urban sprawl and improve urban planning as more and more of the nation’s citizens move to cities.
The move is not wholly unexpected because even as far back as October 2014, China’s president, Xi Jinping, was calling for an end to the boom in odd architecture, hoping to replace buildings shaped like cellphones with “morally-inspiring architecture.” While the new regulations are not a surprise, it is a little sad to think that no more horseshoe-shaped Sheratons or emperor-shaped hotels will pop up in China.