Fake Europe In Real China [SLIDESHOW]

on June 20 2012 1:44 PM
  • Thames Town
    near Shanghai eiro/ Creative Commons
  • Thames Town
    near Shanghai www.thamestown.com
  • German Town
    near Shanghai AS & P
  • Chateau Lafitte
    near Versailles Wikipedia Commons
  • Chateau Lafitte
    near Beijing citylife.bbs.house.sina.com.cn
  • A French Winery
    near Beijing beijingholiday.com
  • White House
    near Hangzhou Next Nature
  • Hallstatt
    in the Alps Wikipedia Commons
  • Hallstatt
    in Guangdong Reuters
  • Austria
    near Guangzhou Reuters
  • Eiffel Tower
    near Hangzhou www.mdnphoto.com/ Matthew Nied
1 of 11

The Chinese have fallen in love with Europe. So much, in fact, they are trying to remake parts of their county in its image.

It may be more accurate to say that what they have fallen in love with is a popularized image of Europe -- that of quaint, calm villages, stately manors, and aristocratic wealth. That attraction is not entirely irrational, especially when one thinks about the psychology of contemporary China's highly competitive new wealth. Most of the newly rich live in the country's massive, noisy cities, and have a deep compulsion to get away from it all, and a desire to try to be more cosmopolitan.

Some Chinese companies and individuals are not simply seeking Western architectural inspirations. In some cases they are actually copying outright  already existing designs, and rebuilding them back at home. 

Some of the following examples can be charming in their replication; residential districts and resorts cropping up near major cities are meant to make people feel like they are actually in England, Germany, or Holland. Others are astounding for their blatant and exacting duplication: an entire French winery copied and set up near Beijing, another Eiffel Tower, even a second White House complete with an oval office.

China does have a great deal of European architecture left over from the 19th and 20th century, when European empires established treaty ports and zones of control in the country. But these examples go further: they have no history, only a clone of it.

If there is a common thread within all these oddities, it is that they are targeted at, built by, and intended for a specific audience: those enamored with the idea of Western luxury, but perhaps still a few steps away from actually living within it.

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