Built in 2001, the Tianzi hotel is shaped like the gods of fortune, prosperity, and longevity. (Reuters/Christina Hu)
A statement from the State Council of the People's Republic of China Sunday, says new guidelines on urban planning will forbid the construction of "bizarre" and "odd-shaped" buildings that are devoid of character or cultural heritage.
Instead, the directive calls for buildings that are "economic, green and beautiful." China's economic boom over the past several decades has coincided with a boom in the construction of unique, eye-catching buildings and the country has been dubbed an architect's playground.
The headquarters of China Central Television (CCTV). Prisma Bildagentur AG / Alamy
Beijing is home to one of the country's most iconic buildings, the CCTV headquarters by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), co-founded by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. It has been nicknamed "big pants" by locals, for its resemblance to trousers.
The golden People's Daily headquarters has also been made fun of. Midway through construction, a doctored photo of the phallic building superimposed under the CCTV's "pants" went viral.
Other eye-catching buildings include an exhibition center in the shape of the tea pot, while one company built its corporate headquarters in the shape of the Starship Enterprise -- the legendary spaceship from the Star Trek TV and movie franchise.
The building of China's state-run newspaper People's Daily. John Sun / Eyepress / Photoshot
The document said "bizarre architecture" that isn't "economical, functional, aesthetically pleasing or environmentally friendly" would be banned although it didn't detail how those criteria would be assessed.
The guideline adds that construction techniques that use fewer resources and generate less waste, such as prefabricated buildings, would be encouraged, and that within a decade, 30% of new buildings would be prefabricated.
The directive also called for an end to gated communities. These residential housing estates that strictly control public access have sprung up in China as incomes have risen.
Those already in existence will gradually be opened up to pedestrians and traffic, the document said.
An aerial view of a building shaped like a clay teapot is seen in Wuxi, Jiangsu province. (Reuters/Carlos Barri)
The guidelines comes on the heels of December’s Central Urban Work Conference, the first such meeting to address the issue since 1978, when only 18 percent of China’s population lived in cities. By the end of last year, the figure had reached about 50 percent.
To further monitor urban sprawl, governments shall use a variety of methods including remote satellite sensing to locate buildings that violate existing urban planning policies. Within five years, a map of all such illegal buildings across China’s cities will have been drawn up and action taken against violators, the document said.
The Phoenix Towers in Wuhan are to be one kilometre tall and are scheduled to be completed in the next couple of years. Their exteriors will be covered in solar panels.