In China’s effort to modernize its cities, it has used architectural mimicry – essentially “copy-cat architecture” as journalist and author Bianca Bosker puts it – to rapidly and substantially “adapt to the market” for urban development. Watch this video as Bosker describes the atmosphere of imitation that China has adapted to bring western architectural styles to its housing market. Bianca Bosker is the author of “Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China”, in which she gives a tour of the various towns within major cities that have seen this rapid development. Cities like Hangzhou has its own imitation of Venice, which includes man-made canals, townhouses, and villas. Shanghai has its own version of Paris, Eiffel Tower included. And Beijing has an imitation of the London Bridge.
More after the break.
Bosker points out that the unprecedented scale of China’s development is what makes its market so unique and interesting to study. Rapid development is essential to house its population. There are, however, a number of drawbacks to this expansion. Residents of these communities admit that the construction is “sub-par and the infrastructure of public utilities is poor”. Bosker discusses how while some communities are thriving, others are still ghost towns. They are vaguely reminiscent of the cities that serve as the inspiration, but “without the people”.
Whether the initial reaction is to scoff or praise this “copy-cat culture” forces architects and planners to consider the difference between imitation and inspiration, and what there is to learn from one another within the culture that chooses adopt a style of urban development and the culture from which it has been adopted.