He’s fed up of phallic towers, had enough of space-age blobs and is really rather cross about architects scattering novelty shapes across his great cities with reckless abandon. China’s president, Xi Jinping, has called for an end to the light-headed lunacy of weird buildings that have been spawned by the country’s construction boom over the last decade, crowding out skylines with enormous golden eggs and big pairs of pants.
In a two-hour speech at a literary symposium in Beijing last week, Xi said that art should serve the people, and called for morally-inspiring architecture that should “be like sunshine from the blue sky and the breeze in spring that will inspire minds, warm hearts, cultivate taste and clean up undesirable work styles.”
Over the last few years, China’s accelerated urban growth, paired with the emergence of a billionaire business class keen to make its mark, has created a fertile playground for western architects. Lured by the scale of ambition and sheer speed of building, they have been allowed to indulge in fantasies they could never get away with back home, egged on by cut-price construction costs and safely distanced from the cruel realities of migrant labour conditions. […]