Built not to last
Demolition starts at a massive, illegally built villa on top of an apartment building in Beijing.
Demolition of a rock-covered rooftop villa on a 26-story Beijing apartment block began on Thursday, three days after it was ruled illegal by urban patrol officers and ordered to be removed.
Workers began pulling down the villa in the morning. It was adorned with trees and bushes and covered more than 800 square meters in Haidian district.
The authorities sent experts to guide and supervise the demolition to ensure the rest of the building was not affected, according to a statement released by Haidian chengguan, or urban patrol officers.
On Monday, Zhang Biqing, the owner, was ordered to dismantle the decorations and building on top of the apartments in the Renji Shanzhuang community within 15 days, according to a notice issued by Haidian chengguan.
Chengguan said Zhang promised to demolish the illegal building on time when they contacted him by phone while he was on a trip to Yunnan province.
Zhang told China Daily the illegal part of the building only occupied 40 to 50 square meters. He built a mound, dotted with artificial rocks and greenery, to solve a problem with the kitchen exhaust pipe system, built on the top of the apartment.
He said he had little knowledge about the legal process involved in obtaining approval for the project when the work started in 2007.
Zhang confirmed there was a swimming pool above the apartment, but said it was only there to make use of the space and was relatively small, occupying about 10 sq m.
The Mirror newspaper reported that Zhang hired the same team of workers who built the house in 2007 for the demolition.
Many of his neighbors had complained about lavish rooftop add-ons since 2007. They later said Zhang also liked to play loud music and sing late at night.
Lan Bing, whose family used to live on the 26th floor near Zhang’s house, said in a statement on Thursday that her father had been beaten three times by Zhang during disputes about the illegal construction.
Zhang had told the media that he paid Lan’s family 100,000 yuan ($16,400) in compensation, but Lan dismissed this.
“Up to now, our family has not received any compensation from Zhang,” Lan said on Thursday.
As the demolition began, a poster was hung in the community by a resident, stating, “We support the exposure of this case and we ask for an investigation into the departments and people who are responsible for the illegal building.”
Guan Dongsheng, who lives on the 12th floor of the block, said, “The most dangerous part was the swimming pool, which placed heavy pressure on the apartment building.”
Photographs and videos of the swimming pool were released on Thursday.
Pictures of the villa were uploaded onto a micro blog this month, triggering a public outcry, with many Internet users also questioning Zhang’s claim that he was a doctor qualified to treat patients.
Beijing’s industry and commerce administration has also investigated acupuncture clinic chains founded by Zhang.
A spokeswoman for the administration said it will release the investigation result on Friday. Yan Ran contributed to this story.
Workers begin the demolition of the rock-covered rooftop villa in Beijing’s Haidian district on Thursday, three days after the district’s urban patrol officers deemed the structure illegal and ordered it removed.