What is Weird Architecture? That’s the Point.

by Vicki Nemeth
Chinese President Xi Jinping wants to put a curb on “weird” architecture in China, but he seems to be having trouble defining what weird architecture is. President Xi’s Communist Party is online at People’s Daily and say weird buildings are “strangely shaped.” The Chinese Housing Ministry says they are still working on writing standards to identify weird architecture. Various local governments are being left the job of defining weird architecture.
In effect, Xi provides people with an ill-defined concept, the only definition being that it limits their architectural scope; the message lets their imaginations do the rest. People get talented at suffocating themselves when you don’t tell them exactly what you want.

The Guangzhou Circle building looks like a donut standing up..

Guangzhou Circle by Joseph di Pasquale; photo CC 3.0 by Wikipedia user Midip

Conveniently, China does have a problem with exorbitant budgets and narcissistic projects. This gives people a red herring to debate about. Yang Shichao, deputy director of the Guangdong Provincial Academy of Building Research, says that weird architecture will eventually be defined as wasteful and polluting. Few people have a problem with putting a stop to wasteful, polluting architecture. The only problem is, this potential future definition, which has not even been made official yet, contradicts prior hints that weird architecture is “strangely shaped.” Yang also says that weird buildings don’t fit the local culture; interesting, since not only is “local culture” ambiguous to define, but people define culture by creating new things, which leads culture to evolve.
So just what is weird architecture? Weird architecture is a mind game. People like to believe in leaders; even architects do, a little. Tell them they’re weird and watch them run a hamster wheel trying to figure you out.
Greening and budgeting Chinese architecture is a noble goal but it is not the goal here. Otherwise, President Xi would define problem buildings as expensive and polluting, and it wouldn’t be necessary to call exorbitant buildings “weird.”
News at Sinosphere

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