Architecture

Is this the end for China's weird architecture?

Is this the end for China's we...
MAD's opera house in Harbin, China, a "weird architecture" project that may never have happened under the new directive
MAD's opera house in Harbin, China, a "weird architecture" project that may never have happened under the new directive
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Thames Town is a little slice of England ... in Beijing
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Thames Town is a little slice of England ... in Beijing
The Guangzhou Circle Mansion – aka "the flashy rich people's circle"
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The Guangzhou Circle Mansion – aka "the flashy rich people's circle"
The Guangzhou Circle Mansion – aka "the flashy rich people's circle"
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The Guangzhou Circle Mansion – aka "the flashy rich people's circle"
The Guangzhou Circle Mansion – aka "the flashy rich people's circle"
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The Guangzhou Circle Mansion – aka "the flashy rich people's circle"
The Guangzhou Circle Mansion – aka "the flashy rich people's circle"
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The Guangzhou Circle Mansion – aka "the flashy rich people's circle"
The gravity-defying China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters, Beijing
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The gravity-defying China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters, Beijing
The gravity-defying China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters, Beijing
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The gravity-defying China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters, Beijing
The gravity-defying China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters, Beijing
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The gravity-defying China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters, Beijing
The gravity-defying China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters, Beijing
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The gravity-defying China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters, Beijing
The gravity-defying China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters, Beijing
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The gravity-defying China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters, Beijing
MAD's opera house in Harbin, China, a "weird architecture" project that may never have happened under the new directive
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MAD's opera house in Harbin, China, a "weird architecture" project that may never have happened under the new directive
MAD's opera house in Harbin, China, resembles an alien spaceship
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MAD's opera house in Harbin, China, resembles an alien spaceship
MAD's opera house in Harbin, China, resembles a alien spaceship
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MAD's opera house in Harbin, China, resembles a alien spaceship
MAD's opera house in Harbin, China, resembles an alien spaceship
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MAD's opera house in Harbin, China, resembles an alien spaceship
MAD's opera house in Harbin, China, resembles an alien spaceship
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MAD's opera house in Harbin, China, resembles an alien spaceship
Zaha Hadid's New Airport Terminal Building in Beijing is set to be the largest airport terminal in the world, it's also quite possibly the weirdest looking
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Zaha Hadid's New Airport Terminal Building in Beijing is set to be the largest airport terminal in the world, it's also quite possibly the weirdest looking
Zaha Hadid's New Airport Terminal Building in Beijing is set to be the largest airport terminal in the world, it's also quite possibly the weirdest looking
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Zaha Hadid's New Airport Terminal Building in Beijing is set to be the largest airport terminal in the world, it's also quite possibly the weirdest looking

China is well-stocked with unusual and copycat architecture, and the vast country boasts its own versions of Western landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, White House, Tower Bridge, and even an entire Austrian village. However, the New York Times reports that the days of weird Chinese architecture may well be numbered following a new directive issued by Chinese government.

The New York Times reports that the State Council, China's cabinet, and the Communist Party's Central Committee issued a directive on Sunday to the effect that the construction of zany projects that are devoid of cultural tradition should be dropped in favor of those that are deemed more "suitable" for China.

The move echoes a speech made by Chinese President Xi Jinping's in late 2014, in which he railed against what he termed "weird architecture."

No doubt Thames Town was on Mr Xi's mind as he made his speech. Located around 30 km (19 miles) from central Shanghai, China, Thames Town (pictured below) is styled as a little slice of England in the Middle Kingdom. Founded in 2001 and opened five years later, it certainly looks the part, and boasts authentic-looking British touches including cobbled streets, Victorian-era buildings and even a regular Catholic Sunday Mass, according to its official website.

Thames Town is a little slice of England ... in Beijing
Thames Town is a little slice of England ... in Beijing

Lest you think that Thames Town is a one-off, another massive counterfeit project seeks to realize the beautiful Austrian village of Hallstatt in China. As its sparse Wikipedia page details, the modern version of Hallstatt – named Hallstatt, naturally – was built by a Chinese mining company and is still under construction.

In addition to the above projects, China contains numerous copies of western landmarks, including London's Tower Bridge, the Château de Maisons-Laffitte and Pont Alexandre III, both of which originally hail from France.

The Guangzhou Circle Mansion – aka "the flashy rich people's circle"
The Guangzhou Circle Mansion – aka "the flashy rich people's circle"

Time will tell as to whether or not the edict has an effect on the country's billion-dollar industry of fake and wacky architecture projects, but if so, at least we'll always have the Doughnut-shaped hotel (above) to look back on.

Head to the image gallery to take a look at a short selection of some of the more weird and wonderful Chinese architecture projects we've covered.

6 comments
Nicolas Zart
Interesting loop around by saying: "devoid of cultural tradition" considering the revolution was about anything but traditional culture. In many ways, China has just given credence to alternative architecture, while at the same time stopped what it needs to do most, become creative. And these structures are going to go up in price simply because as of now, there will be few of them. The demand is going to shoot up. Not a good way to nip this in the bud. Quite the contrary, if that was the purpose.
Lewis M. Dickens III
Fake, Copycat, Weird and Zany are very unfortunate epithets, clearly not bandied about by serious Architects. I have been to Beijing and Shanghai and have to say that China is a very Impressive Country. And it's very rapid rise after Cho En Lai and Dick Nixon broke bread together is nothing short of Stunning and exceedingly impressive. The Beijing International Airport by Norm Thompson is unbelievably beautiful and the Pudong district is as far advanced as any city core in the world. Ok some of the stuff seems silly but it is only making China more interesting. And yes, it seems a shame that there is not more traditional influence. Tange from Japan, were he alive,sure knew how to meld the old and the new of Oriental Architecture. One does always have to worry about some idiot politician screwing up things with some supposedly philosophical reason, whether it Be in Detroit, Flint, or Shanghai. b
flylowguy
The 'Jetsons architecture' of the early 90's forward has by now given way to more intelligent and considered designs. It's a shame to stop that process of maturing and growth in favor of shapes that suit the bores in Beijing.
sk8dad
In a country where the government cannot be checked by its citizens, one is always at the mercy of the whim of whomever is currently in charge be he a forward thinking individual or a dumb ass backwards idiot. China is overdue for its periodic conservative government clamp down.
Don Duncan
Lewis: I doubt philosophy played any part in the rulers new policy. It was, like everywhere, control freaks exercising personal (psychological) preferences. Regulation is never a good thing on net. Mistakes are how we learn, evolve, and progress. Except of course with the mistake of letting rulers rule. No matter the amount of destruction, the myth that govt. is needed, and we must all be taxed to support it, seems to never die, like some social vampire/parasite. Could the govt. schools that manufacture obedient, psychologically dependent citizens be responsible for this blind faith, this worship of leaders?
owlbeyou
Imitation can be the sincerest form of flattery, but if the Chinese do it, it's counterfeit? It's likely that these architectural projects are attempts to show the rest of the world what they are capable of, and it's considerable. There are still countries that resist the hyper-consumerism influence of the West. Can you imagine 1.3 billion people making demands to have what we have? Or the juxtaposition of someone in a factory making any number of fancy products for our western consumption, and not wanting it for themselves as well? No wonder there is so much counterfeiting of consumer products in China! We are dangling the proverbial carrot, and when someone goes for it, it makes some feel smug or indifferent, while maybe others are saying "they're stealing our jobs"! China has become the factory of the world, and then people turn around and call them major polluters, without considering all the circumstances of the why and how. It's a good thing that there are places in this world who are resisting the rampant commercialism we see today, because if the day comes that everyone will be doing it, it'll be a pity. China has a long history of a rich and diversified culture on so many levels. It's not perfect by any means, but we in the West should resist the tendency to trivialize or vilify others by imposing our western values on them. The media is often abetting this and it does us all no good.