The iconic ‘nail house’—whose owners stood firm as redevelopment swallowed up surrounding residences—has been demolished. Located in China’s Zhejiang Province, the home quickly became a striking—and slightly absurd—symbol of the struggle between homeowners and the state when Luo Baogen refused to sell his home, and the government subsequently constructed a road around it. As had been anticipated, the state cut utilities to the home, and Baogen reportedly accepted a buyout before the property was hastily knocked to the ground.
Luo’s nail house is part of an unusual phenomenon specific to China. While individual home owners have full ownership of the houses in which they live, the Chinese government maintains control of the land on which the properties are built. When urban redevelopment is planned, the government buys out the homeowners, but some—such as Luo—refuse.
In these cases, officials typically cut power and water supply to the homes, forcing the owners to leave and encouraging them to accept compensation and rebuild elsewhere. Luo and his wife had managed to stay in their own, now eccentrically positioned, home for almost a year before the government took measures to remove them.
As Dezeen reports, Luo explained that “It was never a final solution for us to live in a lone house in the middle of the road. After the government’s explanations, I finally decided to move,” said Luo.” Accepting a payment of 260,000 yuan—a little over $41,000—Luo and his wife gathered their belongings and later that day, the bulldozers moved in.
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