BEIJING // A Beijing resident who built an elaborate villa and rock garden atop a 26-storey apartment building started dismantling the structure Thursday after neighbours complained, state media reported.
Authorities in the Chinese capital issued an order for the demolition on Monday, saying the structure was illegal and must be removed within 15 days, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The owner of the 800-square-metre (8,608-square foot) structure, Zhang Biqing, agreed Wednesday to begin tearing it down, the report said, after police and urban management authorities explained that it posed a risk to the public.
Xinhua said city officials provided technical guidance Thursday to ensure the building's structural soundness amid the dismantling as well as to make sure water and electricity did not pose a hazard.
Officials ordered that a protective fence be set up around the building so falling objects would not hit passing pedestrians and vehicles.
Reports this week drew wide attention to the huge house among what looked like a pile of rocks dotted with trees on top of the apartment building.
Neighbours had reportedly complained about the villa, saying they feared it could collapse on top of them.
The rocks, said to be imitation shells rather than solid stone, have trees and bushes growing among them, as in classical Chinese landscape painting.
Poking out from between them, sections of the villa underneath can be seen – a blue-framed window here, a balcony under a curved roof there.
Houses standing on top of multi-storey buildings have been seen before in China, where a rising property market is making land more and more expensive.
A developer in central China built 25 luxury villas on top of a shopping mall, which became migrant workers' residences after authorities declared them illegal, Chinese media reported earlier this month.