Demolition of bizarre rooftop 'garden' begins in Beijing

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 August, 2013, 9:05am

The owner of the outlandish rooftop villa in Beijing that has attracted worldwide mockery has started to remove at least part of what he sees as his creative masterwork.

On Tuesday morning at least three workers were spotted on the rooftop trying to remove the grapevine trellises that make up part of the elaborate structure, which includes fake rocks and real greenery. But the basic mountaintop shape of the bizarre edifice parked on a 26-story apartment block had not changed much by the afternoon.

Wealthy acupuncturist Zhang Biqing, the owner, said he had employed the same workers who built the structure for him six years ago, and more than 10 workers would join in the coming few days.

"As they know how to put it up, they know how to pull it down," Zhang was quoted by China News Service as saying.

The Bureau of City Administration and Law Enforcement of Beijing's Haidian district issued an ultimatum on Monday giving Zhang 15 days to demolish the 800 square metres of the structure that have been deemed illegal. However Zhang has insisted the illegal structure area measured only 40 to 50 square metres.

Zhang told local media the demolition would start with the wooden grape trellises, followed by the plastic and steel framed 50-square-metre glass house. This would take a total of 10 days.

But Zhang reiterated he still wanted authorities to allow him to keep the artificial resin rocks, which he said helped to insulate the building against heat. However he was willing to whittle away some of the rocks, although this would take much longer than removing the glass house.

Zhang told The Beijing News he spent about 800,000 yuan (HK$1 million) to build the structure six years ago, and it would cost more to tear it down.

While he has said he was willing to dismantle the structure, he has defended his creation, saying it was being demolished because "it was too flamboyant while the resentment against the rich has been so prevalent", according to the Times.

Meanwhile, as Zhang's structure may be coming down, photographs of another odd rooftop structure - two traditional pavilions built on an 18-storey building in Suzhou , Jiangsu province - unleashed a new wave of heated debate yesterday.

The Gusu Evening News reported as far back as 2007 that the two pavilions, which feature elements typical of Suzhou's famed gardens, were owned by a tenant living on the top floor of the building. Law enforcers in Gusu district said yesterday the case was under investigation.