Video: Bianca Bosker Discusses Architectural Imitation in China

In China’s effort to modernize its cities, it has used architectural mimicry – essentially “copy-cat architecture” as journalist and author puts it – to rapidly and substantially “adapt to the market” for urban development.  Watch this 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.

Hallstatt, Austria, the Unesco Heritage Site literally re-built, brick by brick, in China © Boris Stroujko via Inhabitat/Shutterstock

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.

Cite: Vinnitskaya, Irina. "Video: Bianca Bosker Discusses Architectural Imitation in China" 06 May 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 20 Dec 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=368453>
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  • eric

    Where is the video?; not to open/see in GoogleChrome or Safari

    • Karissa Rosenfield

      Eric, thank you for pointing this out! The video has been updated and should work now.

  • Liam

    Walter Benjamin would be rolling in his grave.

  • Peng Wang

    The part about satellite cities around Shanghai in the narration is far from truth. The conclusion has flawed logic. I would rather say that the reason behind mimicking is that design has a cost that some parts in fast developing China cannot afford. Hard to believe such biased opinion can appear on Archdaily.

  • Vitor

    What a dull and careless use of old styles… look at the awful proportion of the columns and the nonchalance towards the details… good copy, really?
    Anyway; a much better example of “copy” would be how high-rise developments in South Korea adapted the traditional house (“hanok”) to the apartment typology.

  • Tom

    ‘The’ London Bridge? Don’t you mean Tower Bridge? Which reminds me of the old joke about the American who bought London Bridge by mistake, thinking he’d been sold the more familiar landmark…..