Photos: China’s Stubborn ‘Nail Houses’ Stand In The Way Of ‘Modernization’


A dingzihu, or a ‘nail house’, is a term given to those houses where the owner refuses to accept compensation from a property developer or from government for the demolition of his/her real estate. Across China, one can find plenty of such nail houses standing alone amid newly constructed buildings or in the ruins. They belong to defiant property owners who stood their ground, resisted demolition and refused to make way. Here are some of the most striking symbols of resistance against the world’s major economy…


A nail house sits in the middle of a road under construction in Nanning in April 2015. The owner of the house didn’t reach an agreement with the local authority about compensation for the demolition.


A nail house at a crossroads in Pinghe in Fujian province in November 2013. The local government has demolished most of the two-storey block, but one apartment owner has refused to move.


A lone resident holds out against luxury villas in Suzhou in Jiangsu province in July 2013.


Zheng Meiju outside her nail house in Rui’an in Zhejiang province in July 2013. She has been living in the partially demolished home even though the water and electricity supply are cut.


A nail house is left stranded in the middle of a road in Wenling in Zhejiang province in November 2012. An elderly couple refused to sign an agreement to allow their house to be demolished.


A six-floor apartment block on a construction site in Shenzhen in 2007. Owner Choi Chu Cheung and his wife Zhang Lian-hao refused to accept the compensation offered by the developer.


A nail house isolated on a mound on a construction site in Chongqing in March 2007.


A three-storey house stands in the middle of a newly built road in Henan province in May 2015. Construction was put to a halt as the owner refused to move because of a dispute about a compensation.


A car drives past next a partially demolished building in the middle of a street in Xi’an in August 2013. A family of seven still lived in the three-story building without electricity and water after a demolition project in the region took place in 2010.


A man rides his bicycle past a partially demolished building in the middle of a street next to residential construction sites in Xi’an in August 2013. The owner of the house refused to move as a protest against a land-dispute lawsuit between him and his brother, which he lost.


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  1. I personally think those people have the right to stand their ground. People might have grown attached to the place where they lived for a long time and asking them to move out is kinda unreasonable in my opinion.


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