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The Odd Case of Chinese Nail Houses

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Visual News

A quickly spreading phenomenon in the construction world has given new meaning to the phrase “standing your ground.” In China, where urban areas are among the most rapidly growing in the world, a strange fad called the “nail house” has taken root.

Residents take advantage of a relatively new property-owning law in China—which, in 2007, prohibited the government seizure of private land except for cases of public interest—by refusing to leave their houses when a new development rolls into town. Often, the homeowners are bribed or otherwise persuaded to move, but in extreme cases, developers are forced to build around them. The resulting nail houses, a term coined to reflect the owners' tenacity, rise stubbornly through the urban sprawl, bisecting busy highways and tucked neatly into shopping complexes.

Though one house interrupting a busy intersection may seem like the antithesis of a public interest victory, many developers shy away from aggressively pursuing these areas, for fear of appearing too oppressive in the media. That’s how, even in cases where the dwellings are of little real use to anyone (many nail house owners don’t actually spend much time there), such structures are able to withstand the years.

Though Chinese nail houses have recently seen heavy exposure, the concept of a nail house is not new, nor uniquely Chinese. In Washington, D.C., Austin Spriggs was offered $3 million for his house (actually worth about $200,000) as a part of a development. Spriggs refused, then took out a loan and ended up converting his home into a pizzeria as a sleek new office building rose up around it. Nail houses have even made their way into Disney movies: Before he had the brilliant idea to take to the air, Carl from Disney-Pixar’s Up posed the same type of stubborn rebellion now seen in numerous urban areas in China.

Primary photo courtesy of Visual News. 

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This Russian Kindergarten Looks Just Like a Castle
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A group of lucky kindergarteners in Russia don’t have to wear poufy dresses or plastic crowns to pretend they’re royalty. As Atlas Obscura reports, all they have to do is go to school.

In a rural area of Russia's Leninsky District sits a massive, pastel-colored schoolhouse that was built to resemble Germany's famed Neuschwanstein Castle. It has turrets and gingerbread-like moldings—and instead of a moat, the school offers its 150 students multiple playgrounds, a soccer field, a garden, and playhouses.

Tuition is 21,800 rubles (about $360) a month, but the Russian government subsidizes it to make it less expensive for parents. As for the curriculum: it’s designed to promote social optimism, and each month’s lesson plan is themed. (September, for example, will be career-focused.)

Take a video tour of the school below, or learn more on the school’s website.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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This Chinese Library's Interior Is Designed to Look Like an Infinite Tunnel of Books
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The Chinese city of Yangzhou is known for its graceful arched bridges and proximity to the Yangtze River and the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. Architects kept these unique local features in mind while designing Zhongshuge Yangzhou, a new bookstore and library that was completed in 2016.

Designed by Shanghai studio XL-Muse Architects, the building has black, mirrored floors and arched ceilings that symbolize Yangzhou’s famous waterways and overpasses. The floor reflects the store’s curving shelves to create the illusion of a never-ending tunnel of books—a true bibliophile’s dream.

Learn more about Yangzhou’s unique library/bookstore below, courtesy of Great Big Story.

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