China is facing a backlash over its skyscrapers.

An anti-tall building campaign is gaining traction in China as skyscrapers sprout like weeds in towns across the country. Newspaper editorials in Chinese newspapers are publicly condemning political officials for permitting towers, in a rare display of public disagreement. hunters

The latest example came this week, when the government-run People's Daily published an article questioning the appropriateness of the aggressive push towards tall skyscraper construction, blaming the problem on "vain local government officials," as the South China Morning Post interpreted it.

The analysis questioned the cultural and economic logic of skyscrapers, describing the construction boom as "the outcome of mayors' desires, not the product of market demand, with vanity defining city skylines," according to the newspaper.

"Creating a vertical metropolis is not that far-fetched; China might serve as a test bed for the next generation of urban design."

This kind of open debate over large buildings doesn't happen by chance in China, and it's been going on for years, driven by the country's unparalleled skyscraper development. China has more than 250 structures taller than 150 meters under construction, significantly more than any other country.

According to data compiled by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, China has nine of the top twenty buildings under development.

The latest outburst of skyscraper bashing was probably definitely sparked by China Broad Group's ambitions to use pre-fabrication technology to construct the world's tallest structure, as well as the topping out of the 632-meter Shanghai Tower, which will be the world's second highest building, last week.

The discussion over skyscrapers in China exposes a complicated web of concerns, including economics, the destiny of cities, and deep-seated nationalistic and cultural attitudes.

According to the People's Daily opinion, erecting a skyscraper is a simple method for city officials to show "face." Ma Long, an architect from the Beijing Institute of Architecture Design, told the daily, "We are too eager to express ourselves, too thirsty for acknowledgment from others."

The function of towering structures in future cities is being debated all around the world, but the argument in China is unique. Tall buildings have the potential to revolutionize cities and improve the quality of life for millions of Chinese citizens who are migrating from rural to urban areas at an unprecedented rate. Many major cities are still in the early stages of development, allowing chances to connect towering structures to public transportation, pedestrian neighborhoods, and true green developments. The concept of building a vertical city is not that far-fetched; China might serve as a test bed for the next generation of urban design innovations.

Unfortunately, China's track record in the construction of towering buildings is dismal. Buildings frequently place a greater emphasis on flair than on style. As politicians endeavor to attract attention to their cities, many projects were badly conceived and stand disconnected from their surroundings, monuments of ego and community arrogance.

However, there are outliers, such as tall structures that are setting new benchmarks.

Shanghai Tower's developers have constantly emphasized the project's green and community aspects. The 632-meter tower, which was completed this week, is a wonder of modern engineering, with an energy-saving façade and big open 15-story "park" spaces within the structure. (The skyscraper has been described as "an urban green space fantasy" in a recent Fast Company piece.)

However, it is located in the heart of Pudong, one of the world's worst-planned contemporary cities. Despite recent efforts to bolt-on safer pedestrian walkways, walking from Shanghai Tower to one of the surrounding towers remains a life-threatening, smog-filled ordeal. (Reuters photographer Carlos Barria recently put together a photo presentation depicting Pudong's 26-year evolution.)

Tall buildings are emblems of development, growth, and, in many cases, squandered opportunities throughout China.
Critics of the skyscrapers believe that the money would be better spent elsewhere if China's towers were built. Many of the skyscrapers will take years to break even, according to critics. Many big buildings in China's apparently infinite list of Tier Two and Tier Three cities will undoubtedly sit unused for years, leaving many areas vulnerable to new business rivalry. Skyscrapers were dubbed "white elephants" in a China Daily editorial last year.

That's a big deal in China, and it might redefine the country's position in creating future cities. China may find itself in a position of leadership in urban planning, which would be a surprising turn of events. China could become the frontrunner in the discussion over whether super-tall skyscrapers are genuinely a good idea, rather than merely "building a lot of tall structures."

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