As part of a larger crackdown on “vanity projects” and to cut energy usage, China has announced that smaller towns would be barred from erecting “super skyscrapers.”
Skyscrapers greater than 150 meters (490 feet) will be rigorously regulated, and those taller than 250 meters would be prohibited in cities with populations under 3 million.
Structures greater than 250 meters will be prohibited in cities with populations above 3 million.
This isn’t the first time Chinese officials have intervened to restrict building heights. The country’s main planning office, China’s national development and reform commission, prohibited new buildings higher than 500 meters and limited those taller than 250 meters in July.
New high-rises greater than 500 meters would no longer be authorized, and those taller than 250 meters would be tightly controlled, it claimed at the time. Exemptions may be granted once precise construction plans, such as those pertaining to firefighting capability, have been reviewed by the government.
This summer, the regulator tightened the requirements for structures higher than 100 meters. They included standards for anti-earthquake capability and if the towers could match the fire and rescue capabilities of the city in which they are situated.
China’s ministry of housing and urban-rural development and the ministry of emergency management, a cabinet-level executive agency responsible for disaster management and workplace safety, released a joint statement in recent days.
It went on to say that individuals who authorize new projects that break the newest restrictions would face “lifelong consequences.”
Some of the world’s biggest buildings may be found in China. For example, the 128-story, 632-meter-tall Shanghai Tower is China’s and the world’s second-tallest structure. China is also one of the most important markets for designers like Arup, located in London. For years, ambitious foreign architects such as Rem Koolhaas and the late Zaha Hadid have used the fast-developing country as a test bed.
However, in recent years, the authorities have found it more difficult to govern these structures. State media and social media often report on possible health and safety concerns in these towers.
In the northern Chinese city of Shijiazhuang, a fire broke out in a high-rise residential complex in March. Another happened in August in Dalian, Liaoning province’s north-eastern metropolis. Both incidences sparked heated debate on Chinese social media.
In May, a 72-story, near-300-meter structure in southern Shenzhen started suddenly trembling, forcing residents inside to flee as pedestrians watched in dread. It was eventually discovered that it was produced by a mix of winds, subsurface train lines, and temperature fluctuations.
Regulators have publicly criticized some of the audacious designs in recent years, referring to them as “vanity projects” that would only inspire Chinese towns to compete in the wrong manner. Beijing outlawed “ugly architecture” earlier this year.
In April, the South China Morning Post reported Zhang Shangwu, the deputy dean of Tongji University’s College of Architecture and Urban Planning, as stating, “We’re in a stage where people are too impatient and anxious to produce something that can actually go down in history.”
“Every building aspires to be a landmark,” he said, “and developers and city planners try to achieve this goal by pushing the boundaries of novelty and strangeness.”
According to the state-run Global Times, officials produced a paper last year that clarified how to improve architectural management in Chinese towns. They came to the conclusion that enormous structures with unusual styles were “a waste of resources.”
Citizens are encouraged to vote for a “hall of shame” ranking of China’s Top 10 “ugliest” buildings on architecture websites such as Archcy.com.
The vote’s goal, according to the competition’s organizers, was to “provoke thinking about the beauty and ugliness of architecture, as well as promote architects’ social responsibility.”
Thanks to Vincent Ni at The Guardian whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.