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Bad Urban Planning Scrutinized in Cloud of Dust
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With a bang, the highest building by the West Lake in east China's Zhejiang Province was blown up on January 6. Its demolition has renewed a heated debate criticizing government for shortsighted and inefficient city planning.

The demolished 22-story building, towering at 67 meters high and with a floor area of 21,100 square meters, was the major teaching building in Zhejiang University. It cost 20 million yuan (US$2.57 million) and was designed to last 100 years, but only served for 13 years before its ignominious and dusty end.

According to its designer, the building load stood at 400 kg per square meter, far beyond the state standard that governs that a teaching building should reach 200 kg per square meter.

Local people said they had opposed the construction of the teaching building 13 years ago, fearing that the block, standing at 500 meters from the West Lake, would affect the scenic environment. However, they were ignored.

The teaching building is not the only "short-lived" building in China. On September 16, 2001, a 20-story building in Beijing was detonated. It was built in 1986 with high earthquake resistance capability. On August 20, 2005, a 16-story building was torn down in Yongchuan County, Chongqing Municipality, having only stood for five years. A day after the demolition of the teaching building, a 15-year-old landmark building in Shandong Province was also demolished.

According to the Code for Design of Civil Buildings issued by the Ministry of Construction, tall buildings should be designed to last 100 years, with others to last for 50 to 100 years. However, most demolished buildings in China served on average for less than 20 years.

An anonymous source said that the land of the teaching building had been sold for as much as 2.46 billion yuan (US$315.7 million). The seller has to deliver the land before the end of this month.

"Now the building has been blown up after only 13 years' service. It's a great waste of money," China Youth Daily quoted a local man as saying. "These 'short-lived' buildings have caused great financial loss and had a negative impact on the environment. This kind of blunder should not be repeated in the future."

(China.org.cn by Wu Nanlan, January 11, 2007)

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