Mark Byrnes is a former senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
Local officials say the mountainside villa on top of a Beijing apartment tower will be torn down in the next 15 days.
One person's paradise villa is another's "most outrageous illegal structure" in all of Beijing.
Sitting on top of an apartment tower, the home of Zhang Lin (head of a traditional Chinese medicine business and former member of Beijing's Haidian district political advisory body) will be torn down because of public opposition.
Lin built his illegal, 10,764-square foot dream home over six years by dragging trees, bushes, rocks and rubble onto the roof of the 26-story building. He wanted it to resemble a mountainside; when the Beijing Times contacted him, Lin referred to it as "just an ornamental garden."
For many Chinese, Lin's home symbolizes the tendencies of the nation's richest and most connected to ignore the law. As for those who live right underneath him, their complaints have been more specific. Besides fears of a potential structural collapse, residents in the tower have complained of broken pipes and drains, flooded units, cracks in ceilings, and construction-related noises. One resident calls Lin "a menace as a neighbor."
According to an Associated Press report, authorities only took action after images of the villa spread around Chinese news sites yesterday. Haidan district officials say that unless Lin can show proof his villa was built legally, authorities will tear down the structure in the next two weeks.