Posted by: Idioma Extra | January 25, 2011

The Weird and the Wonderful

Gimme Shell-ter! Chinese Man Evicted From Giant Egg


A man in Beijing thought he had found his dream home when he moved into an egg-shaped hut, but unfortunately it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

After graduating from college and landing a job with an architectural design firm, 24-year-old Dai Haifei was having a hard time shelling out enough money each month to pay his rent.

So he did what anyone would do when trying to cut costs — he constructed an egg-shaped abode in the courtyard just outside his office in the city’s Haidian District, according to 

Dai borrowed about $960 from his family to buy materials for the 6-foot-tall bamboo home. After three months of work nailing together woven bamboo boards, installing solar panels to provide electricity, waterproofing the structure, attaching insulation and adorning the exterior with sacks filled with grass seeds, he moved into his new pad.

It was a modest apartment, to say the least. Dai slept on a narrow 3-foot-wide bed and decorated the residence with just a nightstand, several books and photos, and a few other essentials.

There was no kitchen in the home — so he ate out. Although there was a water tank and a wash basin, the apartment had no shower — so he used one at the gym.

A skylight at the top provided light, and a hatch on the side allowed him to enter and exit the egg, which was just beginning to sprout grass on its exterior.

It might sound like a bird-brained idea, but by moving into the egg-shaped house Dai was able to eliminate his rent and commuting costs.

Dai told that he enjoyed living in the egg, which was inspired by similar eggs designed by his firm for a biennial expo. He also saw his home as a piece of social commentary on the high housing costs in Beijing, and perhaps — with more refinement — a model for improving the quality of life in his city with green, sustainable housing.

But Beijing authorities begged to differ. On Dec. 1, a representative with the Haidian District Urban Management Division told the paper that any roadside structure without a building permit would be considered “unauthorized construction” and would be subject to removal.

Officials reportedly ordered the egg to be taken down on Dec. 3, and the shell-shaped residence was wheeled away.

Dai didn’t say much about the loss of his egg-shaped home, telling that he is now living with friends.

But the egg house has found a fan base on the Internet, meaning that the Beijing authorities who ordered the home’s removal could turn out to be the ones with egg on their faces.

Word of the Day

ba·sin: \ˈbā-sən\
Origin: Middle English, from Anglo-French bacin, from Late Latin bacchinon
First Known Use: 13th century
1 a: an open usually circular vessel with sloping or curving sides used typically for holding water for washing b chiefly British : a bowl used especially in cooking c: the quantity contained in a basin
2 a: a dock built in a tidal river or harbor b: an enclosed or partly enclosed water area
3 a: a large or small depression in the surface of the land or in the ocean floor b: the entire tract of country drained by a river and its tributaries c: a great depression in the surface of the lithosphere occupied by an ocean
4: a broad area of the earth beneath which the strata dip usually from the sides toward the center

More Vocabulary

Abode: n. the place where one abides: home
Biennial: adj.
occurring every two years
Birdbrained: n.
a stupid, foolish, or scatterbrained person
Commute: v.
to travel back and forth regularly
Courtyard: n.
an open space that is surrounded completely or partly by a building or group of buildings
Hatch: n. a small door or opening
Hut: n.
an often small and temporary dwelling of simple construction
Land: v.
to succeed in getting (something)
Pad: n.
living quarters

Idioms and Expressions

Bet to differ: disagree with someone

  • John told me Max was sure to win the competition, but I beg to differ, I don’t think he has a chance.

Cracked up to be: reported or reputed to be (usually used in the negative)

  • I hear the play is not what it’s cracked up to be.

To say the least: not to exaggerate.

  • When the ring turned up in the lost and found, she was delighted, to say the least.

Love those Phrasal Verbs

Eat out: to have a meal at a restaurant rather than at home

  • John, we should cut down on eating out, it is really putting a crunch in our budget.

Take down: to pull apart or take apart; dismantle; disassemble

  • The electricians will take down all the lights for the set after the play has finished its run.

Shell out: to hand over (money); contribute; pay.

  • I will have to shell out quite a bit of money if I plan to renovate the house.


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