Nail Houses In Context: See Them In Their Surroundings Via Google Earth


Changsha 2008

Ogle Earth has provided us a unique chronology of some of China’s more famous nail houses, and presented them “in geospatial context.” Writes Stefan Geens:

Every so often, the master plans of developers don’t align with those of an existing home owner. The negotiations, coaxing and intimidation that follow can reach absurd levels, while surrounding buildings and utilities are removed. The remaining “nail house” (钉子户, dīngzi hù) fittingly reifies the defiance of its owner, but in the end, the lone holdout almost never proves a match against the unstoppable forces of dialectical materialism.

Geens went the extra step to hunt down images from Google Earth so that you see nail houses in context. Here’s his KML file for download, which you can open in Google Earth.

Nail houses captivate us — and not just because of the good visuals or the underdog empathies they arouse. They are a rip in the space-time continuum to a counterfactual world, where China’s vernacular architecture is ceded a place. For as long as they hold out, nail houses are waypoints to the past, standing askance against the all-too straight lines of futurism with Chinese characteristics.

Examples:


Chongqing 2007


Guangzhou 2007

The most recent nail house to garner national press, of course, was demolished.

(H/T Mara Hvistendahl)

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