Reuters

The destruction of a five-story building in Fenghua trapped at least six people.

It wasn't the kind of real estate collapse that many China observers have been warning about—but for dozens of residents of an apartment building that disintegrated in the eastern province of Zheijiang on Friday, it was much scarier.



The collapse of a five-story building in the city of Fenghua trapped at least six people, one of whom has died so far, according to state media (in Chinese). The apartment building was built in 1994—part of a nationwide boom in the 1980s and '90s that packed the Chinese real estate market with substandard, shoddily built buildings. Authorities are warning that the poor quality of buildings from the those decades could represent huge dangers in coming years.

"We mustn't deny it—starting in the 1980s, to create enough homes for people, a lot cities resorted to building 'fast food houses,'" Chen Xuwei, vice secretary of the Hangzhou Civil Engineering and Construction Association, told the state-owned news agency Xinhua. Fast food houses are easy to build but they’re not built well—after a few decades they may come crashing back down.
 

According to the Xinhua report, there have been a number of collapsed buildings in 2009, another in 2012, and two more in 2013—all were residential buildings constructed between 1980 and 2000.

A large percentage of Chinese housing stock is old and decrepit. The exact percentage, thought to be between 22 percent and 47 percent, makes a huge difference in determining whether the country is in the midst of a dangerous real estate bubble. But whether at the high end or the low end, that would still leave many millions of people living in dangerous buildings.
 
This post originally appeared on Quartz. More from our partner site:

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    Amazon Whittles Down List of HQ2 Contenders to 20 Finalists

    The list skews toward larger cities and metropolitan areas along the Eastern corridor, stretching as far north as Toronto and as far south as Miami. And it looks like some of the economic incentives might be paying off.

  2. A man sits in a room alone.
    Equity

    The World's First Minister of Loneliness

    Britain just created an entirely new ministry to tackle this serious public health concern.

  3. Life

    To the People Who Want to Spend 36 Hours in Washington

    Spend a day-and-a-half in D.C. and you just might find a city beyond the politico caricature.

  4. An aisle in a grocery store
    Equity

    It's Not the Food Deserts: It's the Inequality

    A new study suggests that America’s great nutritional divide goes deeper than the problem of food access within cities.

  5. A small accessory dwelling unit—known as an ADU—is attached to an older single-family home in a Portland, Oregon, neighborhood.
    Design

    The Granny Flats Are Coming

    A new book argues that the U.S. is about to see more accessory dwelling units and guides homeowners on how to design and build them.