China Bans “Copycat Architecture” and Supertall Skyscrapers

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Robison Wells
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A new policy, put forward by the Chinese government’s Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, has decreed that so-called “copycat architecture” or architecture plagiarism is strictly prohibited. It also severely limits the height of skyscrapers.

It bans "copycat behavior", states that skyscrapers over 500 meters "are not allowed", buildings over 250 meters should be "strictly restricted” and establishes the role of chief architects in its cities.

"To embody the spirit of the city, to show the style of the times, and to highlight Chinese characteristics, we hereby notify the relevant matters as follows," stated the policy, which the architecture magazine Dezeen has translated from the original Chinese.

The policy on copycat architecture specifically targets stadiums, exhibition halls, museums, and grand theaters. For these projects, "building plagiarism, imitation, and copycat behavior are strictly prohibited.”

In the past, many famous architectural works from around the world have been recreated in China, including London’s Tower Bridge, Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, Sydney’s Opera House, and the Eiffel Tower.

This advice aligns with views expressed by president Xi Jinping, who called for an end to "weird architecture" during a talk in 2014. This was followed by a directive in 2016 banning "oversized, xenocentric and weird" architecture.

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