architecture

Chinese blogger loses libel case after saying Zaha Hadid building had 'bad feng shui'

Updated 11th April 2019
Credit: Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects and Jerry Yin
Chinese blogger loses libel case after saying Zaha Hadid building had 'bad feng shui'
A Chinese blogger has been told to cough up 200,000 yuan ($30,000) for criticizing a Zaha Hadid-designed building project by saying it had bad feng shui.
Last November, Zhuhai Shengun Internet Technology published a blog post criticizing the undulating Wangjing SOHO development in Beijing, designed by the late Iraqi-British architect Hadid.
The development is located in northeast Beijing near the 798 Art Zone and comprises three curved towers that are 387, 417 and 656 feet tall respectively. Completed in 2015, it is one of a number of Chinese developments named after their property firm owner, SOHO China.
Feng shui -- which literally translates to "wind and water" -- is an important consideration in Chinese architecture. Its ancient laws emphasize the auspicious positioning of objects and claim to be able to predict fortunes through dates and traditional texts. Shopping malls, office towers and casinos across Asia use its principles in their designs in an attempt to promote prosperity and attract good fortune.
On Wednesday, Beijing Chaoyang Court ruled the blogger needed to apologize to SOHO China, and pay 200,000 yuan in compensation for the post's "malicious insults" and "insulting vocabulary," which, the ruling said, had seriously affected the company's business.
Remembering Zaha Hadid
The court also suggested that the blog's claims could have misled readers and had damaged people's opinion of the building. It had gained a large number of views and likes, the court added.
The blog -- which posts feng shui-related analyses on architecture, landscape and location -- encouraged Wangjing SOHO's tenants to move out as soon as possible, claiming that the site selection and shape of the development created negative energy.
"The roads around Wangjing SOHO form a great evil spirit, symbolizing conflicts," the post read. "All the feng shui taboos can be found at the same time in Wangjing SOHO."
SOHO China's Wangjing project -- which had an occupancy rate of 98% at the end of 2018, according to a report released by the Beijing-based developer -- has counted instant messaging app Momo, game streaming platform Panda TV and bike sharing company Bluegogo among its tenants. Panda TV officially shut its server last month, while Bluegogo went bankrupt in 2017.
"The companies based in Wangjing SOHO basically all follow one trend: They grow fast in the initial phase, then lose momentum later and eventually decline quickly," the post said.
In a statement released Wednesday, Judge Hua Ouyang said the post was "misleading," adding: "It leaves a one-sided and arbitrary impression on readers and smears the reputation of the SOHO company."
CNN has reached out to SOHO China for comment. The owners of the blog, which was hosted on the social messaging app WeChat, could not be reached, as their account has now been removed.
In 2014, Wangjing SOHO was awarded the Emporis Skyscraper Award, making it the first high-rise in China to ever win the accolade. According to Zaha Hadid Architects' website, the three towers are designed to look like interweaving mountains.
Yong Xiong contributed to this report from Beijing.