Why Buildings Die Young in China

Nov 03, 2010

More bad news for the environment: many young, strong buildings are demolished in China amidst a frenzied appetite for “newer”, more prestigious ones.




As one of the most architecturally productive countries, China aggregates 2 billion square metres of new-building area every year, consuming about 40% of the world’s concrete and steel. However, on the flip side of the new-building fever, there lie the rubbles and remains of other “older” buildings: people tear down four-star hotels to build five-star ones and bulldoze newly developed construction sites before they are even finished. Lots of young, strong buildings are down, fulfilling their unnatural destiny in the roaring noise of blasting. (Source from ifeng.com and people.com.cn)




1. Vienna Wood Community in Hefei City (合肥维也纳森林花园小区) “died” before completion on December 10, 2005. The community covered about 20,000 square metres of construction area with the main structure raised to 58.5 metres high. The tens of millions of yuan worth building was blasted as a whole when its 16th floor was still under progress. According to the local government, the community punctuated the central divide of Hefei City, blocking the scenery between Huangshan Road and Dashushan Mountain. They couldn’t straighten Huangshan Road unless the community was out of the way.




2. The Bund Community in Wuhan (武汉外滩花园小区), four years old, blasted on March 30, 2002. “I give you the Yangtze River” was the slogan of the community which captured many people’s hearts, as did its view over the magnificent Yangtze River and Wuhan’s historic spot Yellow Crane Tower. It took only four years to build the community that was documented and verified by relative departments. Then it also took only four years for the once legitimate community to be identified as illegitimate buildings that violate the country’s flood protection regulations. Forced demolition soon took place, resulting in over 200 million yuan of direct economic losses, not to mention the costs that were many times its original investment in terms of the demolition and restoration of the bund environment, which was covered by the government.




3. Yuxi Exhibition Centre (瑜西会展中心), five years old, down on August 20, 2005. The landmark building in Yongchuan City, Chongqing Municipality cost 40 million yuan to build, and 250 kilogrammes of dynamite and about 5,000 detonators to blow up. Besides holding exhibitions, the centre was also used as an administrative reception centre owing to its convenient location and sound facilities. However, the mining boss who bought the centre for 30 million yuan decided it was an even better idea for the centre to become the city’s first five-star hotel instead . Thus down with the landmark exhibition centre and here was 250 million yuan to build the glorious five-star hotel. To welcome the city’s first five-star hotel, the vice mayor of Yongchuang City came down to the site in person and helped monitor the blasting process.




4. Zhongyin Building in Wenzhou City (温州中银大厦), six years old, life ended on May 18, 2004. Situated at the city’s golden area since 1997, the 93-metre building was never put into use as it was identified as unsafe and was the centre of the city’s biggest financial crime ever, involving 43 suspects and over 30 million yuan of corruption. And for that reason, it was also remembered as the “corruption building”. Solving all of the building’s safety problems would demand more than the cost of building a new one; the authority then blew it up.




5. Shouyi Sports Centre (首义体育培训中心), 10 years old, blasted on June 16, 2009. It was called “champion’s cradle” for fostering many sporting talents for Hubei Province, including badminton world champions Gao Ling and Wei Yili. But when its existence bothered the 20 billion worth museum project for the 100th anniversary of Revolution of 1911, it had to give way, even though it was only 10 years old and still upgrading its sport equipment up till the demolition.




6. Five Lake Hotel in Nancang City (南昌五湖大酒店), 13 years old, blasted on February 6, 2010. The four-star hotel building was finished in 1997 and viewed as one of the landmark buildings in Nancang City, too. The hotel was taken over by a Hong Kong company who decided to turn it into a five-star hotel. It was estimated that the demolition would result in 40,000 tonnes of construction waste, taking up a large area of refuse landfill.




7. Shenyang Summer Palace (沈阳夏宫), 15 years old, blasted on February 20, 2009. Completed in 1994, the palace is a water entertainment centre that cost 200 million yuan to build. It was the biggest arched architecture in Asia then. For a long time, Shenyang Summer Palace was viewed as the greatest fun in the city, receiving over 400 million tourists in its first five years. However, the city’s greatest fun was blown up within two seconds for the sake of real estate development.




8. Zhejiang University’s No. 3 building in lakeside campus (浙大原湖滨校区3号楼), 16 years old, downed on January 6, 2007. Standing 67 metres high with 20 floors, the No.3 building was the highest on West Lake side. But the university sold part of the campus land for 2.46 billion yuan, and thus tore down the building to hand over a flat land. On the day of the blasting, teachers and students flocked together to witness the spectacular and tragic moment.




9. Tsingtao Railway Building (青岛铁道大厦), 16 years old, blasted on January 17, 2007. The building was designed in accordance with three-star standard and meant to be there for about 100 years. Opened in 1991, it was seen as one of the landmark buildings of the city at that time. Still it had to give way when it countered the construction programme for the 2008 Olympics.