China is home to at least 10 White Houses, three Arcs de Triomphe and one Eiffel Tower. But 2016 might signal the end for China's more grandiose architecture.
A directive issued on Sunday by the State Council, China's cabinet, and the Communist Party's Central Committee says no to architecture that is "oversized, xenocentric, weird" and devoid of cultural tradition. Instead, buildings should be "suitable, economic, green and pleasing to the eye."
The directive also calls for an end to gated communities.
The guidelines come two months after a high-level meeting to address some of the problems that have arisen as a result of China's rapid urbanization. The last such meeting was in 1978, when only 18 percent of China's population lived in towns or cities. Now, more than 56 percent of the country's 1.3 billion people are urbanites.
The directive also follows President Xi Jinping's criticism in late 2014 of "weird architecture."
Experts say that as a result of the new guidelines from top leaders, they expect stricter design standards for public buildings. Wang Kai, vice president of the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, under the Ministry of Construction, said that functionality should take precedence in public buildings. "We shouldn't go overboard in pursuit of appearances," he said.
On Oct. 15, 2014, at a major symposium on culture, Mr. Xi urged that there be "no more weird architecture." A social media platform under People's Daily, the Communist Party newspaper, predicted that "in the future it is unlikely that Beijing will have other strangely shaped buildings like the ‘Giant Trousers' " — a reference to the China Central Television Headquarters, a hulking, long-limbed edifice designed by Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren.
2014年10月15日，在一个重要的文艺座谈会上，习近平敦促"不要搞奇奇怪怪的建筑"。中共党报《人民日报》在社交媒体平台上预测，"北京市今后不太可能再出现如同‘大裤衩'一样奇形怪状的建筑了"。"大裤衩"指的是中央电视台总部大厦，其外观整体庞大，局部修长，设计师是雷姆·库哈斯(Rem Koolhaas)和奥雷·舍人(Ole Scheeren)。
Feng Guochuan, an architect from Shenzhen, said that Mr. Xi's admonishment had already influenced local governments' decisions regarding new projects. "Generally speaking, local governments now tend to approve more conservative designs," he said.
In an interview with Dezeen magazine, Patrik Schumacher, director of Zaha Hadid Architects, said that foreign architects were finding it more difficult to get work in China. Zaha Hadid Architects has designed some of Beijing's more futuristic residential and office buildings.
在接受《Dezeen》杂志采访时，扎哈·哈迪德建筑事务所(Zaha Hadid Architects)主管帕特里克·舒马赫(Patrik Schumacher)称，国外建筑师发现，在中国接业务变得更加困难了。这家事务所在北京设计了一些比较超前的住宅和办公大楼。
"I feel that there is this attempt by the Chinese leadership to try to make itself more independent and rely on its own talent," Mr. Schumacher told Dezeen.
Mr. Feng said he was concerned that Mr. Xi was interfering in an area that should be left to urban planning departments.
But Mr. Wang said that the stricter standards applied primarily to public projects. "For private housing or commercial projects," he said, "there is still space for innovation."
However, the same directive also says there are to be no more gated residential communities. Those already in place will be gradually opened to the public, with their roads opened to traffic with one goal being to ease congestion.
China began building gated apartment complexes and suburban developments in the 1990s when the private property market first took off.