'Land-saving' bridge building faces demolition

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 January, 2013, 11:32am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 January, 2013, 2:22pm

If only boosting the land supply and addressing the needs of a rapidly greying population could be so easy.

Villagers from the Wenling's Meixi village have come up with an ingenious, if legally questionable, solution to their land shortage: They built a bridge – and put a three-storey building on top.

The building was intended for use as a community centre for senior citizens after lack of land made it impossible to build a proper one in the village.

Authorities however, have set a deadline for the demolition of the bizarre structure – billed by netizens as the “most land-saving house in history” after it was found to be in violation of building codes, the China News Service (CNS) website reported on Wednesday.

The incident comes just two months after an elderly Zhejiang couple had an entire highway built around their “nail house” after they refused to move.

Coined by developers, the term nail house refers to houses that stick out and are difficult to remove even after their owners are offered compensation.

Wenling’s Water Conservation Office learned about the bridge building in 2010 and soon after issued an order for it to be torn down. They claimed the building would collapse at any moment.

Attempts to demolish the structure had been unsuccessful for years, due to resistance from villagers and the elderly residents who frequent the building.

The building, which sits on a bridge above a river propped up by three narrow concrete beams, was completed in 2009 with the approval of the village party secretary.

According to the CNS report, Meixi village was facing a land shortage and building a “bridge house” allowed them to solve the problem and circumvent the issue of getting construction approval and permits.

According to villagers, the house was built to give senior citizens a recreation centre which, built above water, kept them “warm in the winter and cool in the summer”.

Among the other nicknames the house has garnered on Chinese social media is “Venice above water”. It even won a made-up “award for the house with most economical land-use”.