A Chinese tycoon who spent six years building a villa of trees, bushes and fake boulders atop a 26-story highrise has been ordered to tear it down by Chinese officials who say the villa was built against regulations.
The villa’s owner, identified in media reports as Zhang Biqing, told the BBC that he borrowed “quite a lot of money” to finance it his 8,600 square foot villa and used plastic and resin to build the mountain that peeks out from the top.
“I still owe the bank money. So it has nothing to do with the government,” Zhang told the BBC, downplaying claims that he used his wealth to circumvent government regulations. “I don’t have any deal with them in private. I’m not a princeling, so I don’t need to speak for them.”
Zhang’s extravagant villa became the focus of the government’s attention Monday after photos of its artificial rocks, greenery and swimming pool, among other features, were featured in local media outlets along with the headline, “Beijing’s most outrageous illegal structure, according to China Daily and the Associated Press.
That same day, the urban management bureau of Haidian District posted a notice on Zhang’s apartment door ordering him to dismantle his rooftop oasis on his own within 15 days or face demolition.
Zhang’s villa has been a source of tension with his neighbors since he began construction on it in 2007, seeking to add space to his current 3,659 square foot apartment, according to China Daily.
The news outlet says neighbors complained of gas and water leaks during the construction and raised the potential for safety hazards brought on by the rooftop addition.
“They’ve been renovating for years. They normally do it at night,” said a resident on the building’s 25th floor, according to the Associated Press. “He was very arrogant. He could care less about my complaints.”
The building’s property management company has said they knew about Zhang’s renovation but did not have the authority to stop it, China Daily reports.
Zhang reportedly told both the BBC and local news outlets that he would comply with the order to demolish the villa, which he termed an “ornamental garden.”