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Ugly buildings hurt urban appeal

China Daily | Updated: 2021-04-19 07:48

In a document on urbanization and the integrated development of urban and rural areas it issued last week, the National Development and Reform Commission instructed local governments not to give the green light to the planning and construction of "ugly buildings".

Many photos of "ugly buildings" around the country have been posted on social media. Many of these "masterpieces" are not located in the countryside but are public buildings in cities.

Although people's aesthetic standards vary, the "most ugly buildings" that have been elected by the people on the internet have exposed problems with cities' planning and construction administrative departments.

As some architects point out, there are good reasons for these buildings to be put on the blacklist, as their looks and designs do not match their functions, and they are extremely incompatible with the local environments. They are blindly copying other famous or ancient buildings, or they have been deliberately built as status symbols.

The buildings have become tombstones for the imagination, innovation and aesthetics.

Some of the ugly buildings are large-scale public constructions that local governments apparently want to make into landmarks, which have cost large amounts of public funds. That raises a question on whether the people should have a say over the designs of expensive public buildings.

Undoubtedly, governments should provide people with choices that have been screened by professionals regarding the designs of public buildings, rather than thrusting their decisions on them. The advancement of information technology should have made the process of choosing a design for a city library, square or town hall much easier than before.

Also, local government officials should be aware that urbanization does not only mean the expansion of cities, or the building of new constructions, but more importantly the protection of old buildings, streets and communities, and respecting people's rights to make a choice. Cities should not all look alike, and the villages are not born to be sacrificed for them.

The vitality of a city comes from its close connection to its residents, and its connection with its history and culture, not tacky neon lights and commonplace skyscrapers.

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