Chinese President Xi Jinping first called for an end to “weird architecture” back in 2014, when he harangued many of the country’s unusually shaped buildings, including copycat architecture of famous Western landmarks, from a replica of the U.S. Capitol to an entire clone of the UNESCO-protected Austrian Hallstatt village. According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the directive states that urban architecture should henceforth be “suitable, economic, green and pleasing to the eye,” and not “oversized, xenocentric, [and] weird.”
More than just an eyesore, many of these odd urban monuments are also considered a misappropriation of taxpayer money. Liu Shilin, head of the Institute of Urban Science at Shanghai Jiaotong University, told SCMP that quite a few of these “weird” publicly funded buildings didn’t serve any civic purpose, were costly to maintain, and were actually torn down soon after competition. The State Council directive has yet to release a set of criteria that defines “weird” architecture.