Watching the film “Up”reminded me of a few very similar (but non-rendered) stubborn homeowner situations i’ve read about over the past couple of years, the rememberance of which resulted in me researching a fascinating and surprisingly common property (especially in china) i now know to be called a ‘nail house’; so called as ‘they stick out like nails in an otherwise modernized environment’ and are hard to remove…
Edith macefield, Seattle, U.S.A.
we’ll start with edith macefield’s brilliant little home in ballard as it’s the first example of a nail house i’d ever read about and really reminds me of carl friedriksen’s own abode. Edith, who passed away last year, moved into this house in 1966 – long before the area’s construction boom – and since then had turned down numerous offers from developers wishing to build a complex on her land, the highest of which is rumoured to be $1m. the developers decided to build the complex anyway and surround the house with sharp, sleek, characterless surfaces.
Wu ping, chongqing, China
perhaps the most famous nail house in history was situated on a huge mound of dirt in chonqing until april 2007, at which point it was demolished by exhausted developers after battling for 3 years and eventually parting with ¥1m. the house’s owner, mrs wu ping, was the only person from 241 properties who refused to leave when asked in 2004 in order to make way for a new shopping centre. she really dug her heels in and the story quickly spread around the world by way of the intertubes. there’s an interesting interview with mrs wu here. following some searching, see what i believe to be the site of wu ping’s old house here on google schnapps.
Various farmers, narita airport, Japan
in 1966 plans for a new airport were revealed by the japanese government, much to the annoyance of the public and especially those who owned the land upon which it was to be built. for the next 20 years a combination of regular (and sometimes fatal ) riots and defiant farmers who own land amongst the proposed runways forced developers to ditch the idea of a 3 runway airport. to this day, the middle of what was to be the 2nd runway is home to a farm and various smaller properties still sit around the terminals blocking construction of a 3rd runway.
Austin spriggs, Washington DC, U.S.A.
in 2006, austin spriggs was happily living in a house that would soon become a thorn in the side of local developers. such a thorn in fact that mr spriggs was offered more than $3m for the property in 2008 even though the property was previously only worth an estimated $200k. needless to say, he turned the offer down and then proceeded to take out a loan to convert the building into a pizza joint. as you can see, the building is absolutely dwarfed by the surrounding developments.
Various properties, Changsha, China
this dilapidated shop/home sits continues to do business outside a sparkling, relatively modern-looking shopping centre in changsha city and the contrast between the two buildings is shocking. i don’t know much about this house but if you look at the first photo, there are a couple more old properties which also seem to have weathered the development storm. the photos themselves are from october 2007 so i’m unsure whether they held up for much longer and a search on google maps proved fruitless.
Cai zhuxiang and zhang lianhao, Shenzhen, China
in 2006, cai zhuxiang and zhang lianhao, proud and determined owners of this 7 storey building in luohu, shenzhen, were approached by local developers who were on a mission to convert the surrounding area into an extremely profitable financial centre. as you can see from the photos, the couple refused and their 10yr old building and the land beneath it became the focus of a bidding war. eventually developers made an offer they couldn’t refuse and in 2007 the couple gathered their belongings and moved on. although the final amount is unconfirmed, estimates point to compensation in the region of between ¥10-20m (over us$1m).