"No more weird architecture"
says Chinese president



News: Chinese president Xi Jinping has called for an end to the "weird architecture" that has come as a result of China's construction boom.

Xi, who took over as China's Communist Party leader nearly two years ago, attacked projects including the Rem Koolhaas-designed CCTV headquarters in Beijing in a two-hour speech made at a literary symposium last week.

"No more weird architecture" said Xi, reports the Wall Street Journal translating a story that appeared on the website of Chinese state newspaper the People's Daily – whose own new headquarters building came under fire last year after being compared to a giant penis.

New headquarters for the Chinese state newspaper People's Daily, which has been compared to a giant penis

As well as lambasting Koolhaas' building, nicknamed "big pants" in reference to its trouser-like shape, Xi also targeted a pair of bridges over the Yangtze and Jialing rivers in Chongqing, which have been compared to female genitalia.

His comments follow the completion of several unusually shaped structures in China – ranging from a skyscraper shaped like a giant doughnut, to Zaha Hadid's pebble-shaped complex for real-estate developer Soho China – that came about as a result of the Chinese property boom.

A skyscraper shaped like a giant doughnut was completed in Guangzhou earlier this year

Xi delivered his speech to some of China's leading figures in the fields of art, theatre and literature. He also spoke about the need for more inspiring artwork and urged Chinese creatives not to sacrifice artistic and moral value in favour of commercial gain.

"Fine art works should be like sunshine from the blue sky and the breeze in spring that will inspire minds, warm hearts, cultivate taste and clean up undesirable work styles," he said.

Main image of CCTV Headquarters by OMA is by Philippe Ruault.

  • Penis envy

    Thanks Dezeen. I just spat my tea out reading this story. That is a remarkable penis.

  • MIK


  • carla

    Ohhh, please keep up with this wonderful “archy” work. It’s just too funny and we want to keep laughing :)

  • designnerrd
  • What does ‘weird’ even mean?

    I personally quite like the Rem’s Pants and Donut. As for the giant penis, why not? Perhaps fascist China is wary of the form manifest self-expression?

  • spadestick

    This is sad. The last thing China needs is another top-down dressing down of creativity in a nation that has imitation as its core ethos, that it’s the best form of flattery. Instead of picking on icons, why not pick on the myriad of ghost cities filled with banal developer schlock for commercial gain? No? With every building of equal height, optimised to lift and structural efficiency, garnished with classical European kitsch, and topped with indefinite depression for the inhabitants thereof. What is art to you, Mr. Xi?

  • spadestick

    Why attack architecture when you should be focusing on cleaning up your toxic, polluted and environmentally disastrous country, with all manner of hazardous waste in every possible facet. Contaminating the air, the waterways, the groundwater, the soil, the food, the unnecessarily super-wide roadways, awful city planning with horrendous jams, cutting down all manner of forests. Your predecessors have adopted all the mistakes of Westernised nations and perpetuated them further in your own country. Need I go on?

  • Kassim Vera
  • fred

    ‘Weird’ as in architecture concerned with pure form? Or does ‘weird’ target all forms of innovative design? If so, does that then mean architecture should be normal? Whatever that may be…

    I think he’s alluding to the fact that developers are trying to make icons to brand their projects, but then this just becomes a debate about taste.

  • Mitch

    The irony is strong here. The same country who imprisoned “dangerous” artists like Mr. Weiwei now is now encouraging artists to uphold their integrity.

    • john ha

      Yeah, Ai Weiwei did some really neat buildings but some of them were torn down just because of the designer’s political stance. Mr. Xi should free this guy from house arrest and I am sure you will get more decent buildings in China (if you actually care).

  • Max

    You have forgotten the most splendid building.The big peach on hand is presidential suite: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/406801778811349762/

  • Max

    You have forgotten the most splendid one.The big peach on hand is presidential suite.

  • Max

    Chinese tea culture museum.

    • Katsudon

      This one is safe! It bears Chinese culture specifics as required by Xi Dada! :)

  • Q

    How do you know he’s not focusing on the topics you listed above? Just because Dezeen doesn’t post them?

    • Sam

      Been to China recently?

  • architactless

    Architecture is not about fantastical forms or expensive, misshapen trophies that amount to a visual blitzkrieg on the urban-scape. Unfortunately, our era of the relentless theatrical march and narcissistic parade of “icons” negated many essential architectural qualities – space, light, materials, sensitivity, context, economy, function, etc. in favour of the frivolous. In academia and in practice, we have lost the art of architecture.

  • 翁穎諄

    I didn’t find any comment about architecture in this report: http://politics.people.com.cn/n/2014/1016/c1001-25845787.html

  • Airborne

    Possibly, the overspending of governmental bodies has something to do with his speech. Of course he cannot publicly blame his subordinates or predecessor and he uses foreign architects as the scapegoats. However, I doubt very much he will issue a decree on the ‘weird architecture’.

  • Kay

    There is an air of relief that the president of China is powerless about this as Capitalism takes over and he is forced to be a spectator on his country’s progress. Not that I condone his remarks or capitalist greed, but you have to concede that his remarks are really him just saying that he can’t do anything about it.

  • Xi Jinping is pulling a Prince Charles on us, except the Chinese leader lacks the moral credibility to pass it over. He should’ve taken those two hours to address the youth who are protesting against the situation in which carbuncle architecture proliferated.

  • Q

    I think in the original post Xi’s speech was all about art and literature. I have no idea from where Dezeen quoted “no more weird architecture” and “Xi attacked the CCTV building”. If you have other sources, please post them, or be accurate about your quotations.

    • Hi Q, the architecture quote was originally mentioned in the People’s Daily, which was picked up on by several reputable news sources. The article appears to have now been edited, but you should be able to find the older version of it here: http://city.ifeng.com/a/20141016/413990_0.shtml


  • Hans


  • Guy Horton

    While that People’s Daily article is about Xi’s speech, it doesn’t say anything about him making comments on architecture or design. So this couldn’t have been the source.

  • samasin

    About time too. Most of the concrete and glass lumps are like a bulbous calcified leprosy on the fat of the land. I pray an edict be issued for the demolition of the eyesores, and their designers and commissioners publicly tarred with duck feathers and bull-whipped for a crass waste of money even if it’s their own. Dammit! Hehe! Go on boss. Make our day.

  • Chandler

    You probably know nothing about Chinese politics. Many real estate built these weird buildings to earn a massive amount of money. There are corruptions behind all these. Xi’s call is legit.

  • Do some research first

    I didn’t even know that China has a president.

  • Pekinees

    At last an end to architects’ wet dreams?

  • Ana

    ” Apparently, after thinking long and hard, the mouthpiece for China’s Communist Party was so cocksure that the erection of a new headquarters would be warmly received — but they blew it.” Daily News.

  • architactless

    A Donut, a Penis and Big Pants walk into a bar… No joke, the Pritzks must be livid that they are mentioned in the same breath as a bevy of domestic beauties.

  • Jia

    I wrote it down last night. A Contemporary Chinese way to read Xi’s speech on contemporary Chinese art:


  • Michael Swanson

    Who translated the Chinese word used to describe architecture as ” WIERD”. Do they know the language well enough to accurately make the translation? Do they have an adequate English vocabulary?