Partly demolished nail house in Nanning becomes shelter for wanderers, junkmen, and run-away-from-home lovers


Chinese Society  Updated:Sat, May 16, 2015 07:21 AM   By Bernd Chang


Nail house,Holdout

Before agreement being reached between developer and owners of the remaining apartments, the developer dispatched bulldozers to demolish most part of the building last year, leaving only one slice of it standing there surrounded by a land of rubbles. 

A partly demolished building in Nanning has caught attention of Chinese netizens not just for its bizarre outer view, but also for its function as a shelter for wanderers and homeless.

  • Nail house
  • Nail house
  • Nail house
  • Nail house
  • Nail house
  • Nail house


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In a country where forced demolition of private homes has never been eradicated, if not rampant, nail house, a Chinese characteristic buzzword representing the struggle of  home-owners, is actually not very news-worthy in China.

But this half demolished residential building in Nanning in southwestern China, still causes a stir among Chinese online community not just because of its extraordinary outer view, but also of its long-lasting function as shelter, however not for the house owner, but for wanderers, junkmen, the homeless, and even run-away-from-home lovers, which other nail houses in China are lack of.

The original building, located at the juncture of Jiangbei Avenue and Nanhuan Road in Nanning, was ordered to be demolished by authority in 2007 to make room for a grandiose project named Hong Kong Street, Southern China Morning News reported on Monday May 11.

A total of 400 household were involved, so far most of them have signed demolition and relocation agreement with authority and only 9 house owners did not agree compensation terms offered by authority and chose to hold out. The nine house owners tried to solve their dispute by bringing a suit against the developer/government.

Before the lawsuit being heard, the developer dispatched bulldozers to demolish most part of the building last year, leaving only one slice of it standing there surrounded by a land of rubbles.

Eight years have passed and the building, even though only a small part of it, is still standing there, sounds like the developer or the government or both are very lenient?   

Yes, indeed, compared to the houses forcefully demolished without a dimple in the pond, or compared to the unusual (or usual?) experience of other holdouts across the country, like the one in Hubei, the one in Henan, the one in Kunming, and a list of others.

The building, although standing with only one block left, was judged by official experts as having good quality and being strong enough to stand against wind and rain, according to the report.

And the half demolished building hasn’t even been cut off from power and water supply as usually done by other developers! And simply thanks to its “good quality” and remaining power and water supply, the bizarre big nail alike structure and a neighbouring dilapidated buiding have become a "paradise of wanderers, junkmen, and beggars", regardless of the surrounding rubbles and foul-smelling atmosphere, according to the report.

Officials regularly inspect the half demolished building and drive away the wanderers for safety concern, but the homeless just come back a short time later. For them, some rooms in this remaining building are much better shelter than no shelter, and than the windy and  stony space under an viaduct or over-bridge.

In 2010, a pair of ran-away-from-home young lovers lived in the building for eight months before being found and brought back by their parents.

The fate of the building? I prefer to leaving it for our readers to predict.

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