• Mon
  • Dec 29, 2014
  • Updated: 8:34pm

Powerful Beijing doctor's illegal structure tops them all

Owner brushes off neighbours' complaints on bizarre rooftop addition

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 August, 2013, 4:46pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 August, 2013, 10:38am

When it comes to illegal structures, a rooftop villa built by an eccentric Beijing resident on top of a 26-storey residential building puts Henry Tang’s wine cellar to shame.

Beijing's chengguan, or urban management, officials on Monday issued an ultimatum to a former government advisor, demanding he tear down the sprawling structure that he had built over the last six years on top of his top-floor flat. The rooftop house features elaborate fake rocks, real trees and grass, and covers the entire top of the building. Parts of the structure look as if they could spill over the edge of the roof at any time.

The bizarre two-storey structure, located in a high-end residential compound called Park View in Beijing’s Haidian district, an area of government institutions and universities, has bothered the building’s residents for years. Local newspapers have identified the owner as Zhang Biqing, a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and former member of a district People's Political Consultative Conference who owns a national chain of acupunture clinics.  

Disturbed by constant noise from heavy construction machinery working on the roof, water leaks and worried about structural damage to the whole building, neighbours have complained repeatedly to the building management company, local urban management officials and even the police. The new ultimatum, published Monday evening on many local news sites, urges the owner to dismantle the structure himself within 15 days. Failure to comply would result in forcible demolition, it says. 

When confronted earlier by reporters from local newspaper Beijing Morning News, Zhang, who sometimes identified himself as a professor, had said, “Since I dare to live here, I am not worried about complaints.

“Famous people come to my place and sing. How can you stop them?” the newspaper quoted him as saying about the noise at night.

Some neighbours who had complained over the years suffered harrassment and threats from the owner, Zhang Biqing, local newspapers have reported. One 77-year-old man was beaten up several times by Zhang and eventually forced to move, it was reported. Police didn't seem to have intervened. 

The community’s property management office declined to comment and phone calls to the Haidian district urban management office went unanswered on Monday.

The “rooftop garden villa” might not be the only illegal construction in this community, Chinese netizens have found out.

A property agent posted photos of another apparently illegal rooftop house online in late 2011, featuring a blueprint of a three-storey structure with more than a dozen rooms and a bird’s eye view of a nearby lake.

The structure, which the agent also called a “rooftop garden villa”, had a total indoor area of more than 590 square metres and an asking price of 15 million yuan (HK$19 million).

When contacted by phone by the Post on Monday, Sun Jianchao, a Beijing real estate agent who posted the pictures, denied the structure in the pictures was the same one in the news this week, but declined to give more details.

Some Chinese netizens mocked the rooftop house. “Even the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are overshadowed by this hanging villa in Beijing,” said one Weibo user.

Others were angry at the owner with one internet user saying, “How can this guy be a professor? He gained his happiness by torturing others.” Many also expressed anger at the failure of chengguan officials, known for their thuggish, often brutal behaviour throughout the country while dealing with unlicensed street vendors, in enforcing the law on the rich and powerful.   

Almost all add-on structures or alterations to residential buildings are illegal in China. However, this hasn’t stopped thousands of owners of top-floor or ground-floor properties from adding rooms, and even floors, to their homes, or encroaching into public space by putting up additional walls or fences.



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This article is now closed to comments

And therein lies the crux of the issue in mainland China today: selfishness. But that aside, I recall in property contracts, when purchasing an apartment in China, owners agree that they cannot alter the basic outside structure as to change the appearance of the overall building. Naturally there was no asterisk saying thugs with "guanxi" were exempt.
John Adams
Funny how in years to come people will probably only remember Henry Tang for his wine cellar : the "Tang Underground Palace"
Mind you, it's a fitting epitaph for such a person considering what little good he actually did for HK in his time.
Same goes for his boss : Donald "I'll (not) get the job done" Tsang.
H-ell...Tung Chee Hwa is the "good old days" compared to CY and Bowtied!
While illegal and structurally a time bomb, there's nothing bizarre or eccentric about what he built there. "Fake rock mountains" were a common sight in old time Beijing yards and gardens. It's just with today's high density few Beijingers have the luxury of building these on land any more.
On the other hand, haven't some of the American uber-rich also built gardens and other structures on their NYC luxury condo rooftops, although not to such a scale?
@SCMP editors
It's 'demolition', not 'demotion'.
Dai Muff
Sadly, Donald is looking like "the good old days" right now.
That's why there's a separate category for China in the yearly Darwin Awards.
Regarding the illegal structures in HK, especially in the new territories, no wonder HK is part of China. And HKers are typical chinese. And even more hypocrite and gentlemen
the last time I checked, rooftops serve as a refuge area during an emergency such as a fire. If he builds a villa up there and locks the doors, where are those upper level residents gonna do if a fire starts?
This kind of arrogant people need to be stopped, no matter who he know, or ho he is, who do he think he is ? Not even president of the European Union would behave like this.
The more people who report such rude and inconsiderate people and upload to foreign news the faster it will stop, just like Yan Linkun who smashed the airport in Yunnan.



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