Synopses & Reviews
"Prevalent in big cities as well as small towns, China's often heavily criticized, so-called copycat architecture is not an entirely new phenomenon. In this academic but accessible volume, Huffington Post senior tech editor Bosker provides a historical context to these examples of bizarre architectural duplication: A Tudor-style Thames Town springs up outside of Shanghai; a 'replica of the Eiffel Tower' now graces Champs Elysees Square in a Yangtze River delta town. This Chinese appropriative tradition dates back to 'the late third century B.C.E.,' when conquered lands were memorialized with miniatures of foreign palaces. That today's government continues investing heavily in real estate, the author suggests, is a testament to the confidence it has in the strength of its economy. Bosker provides varied perspectives on 'architectural mimicry' and delves into questions of motivation. What draws residents to 'extensive themed communities that replicate identifiable Western prototypes'? Who buys and why? Are places geared toward expats searching for familiarity? Or are developments signs of a Chinese 'era marked by discretionary income, consumer goods, and the ideal of the autonomous, individualized home'? The topic is multifaceted, to be sure; Bosker's account handles it comprehensively, presenting the various angles with patience and care. 69 Illus/54 color. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A 108-meter high Eiffel Tower rises above Champs Elysees Square in Hangzhou. A Chengdu residential complex for 200,000 recreates Dorchester, England. An ersatz Queen s Guard patrols Shanghai s Thames Town, where pubs and statues of Winston Churchill abound. Gleaming replicas of the White House dot Chinese cities from Fuyang to Shenzhen. These examples are but a sampling of China s most popular and startling architectural movement: the construction of monumental themed communities that replicate towns and cities in the West.
Original Copies presents the first definitive chronicle of this remarkable phenomenon in which entire townships appear to have been airlifted from their historic and geographic foundations in Europe and the Americas, and spot-welded to Chinese cities. These copycat constructions are not theme parks but thriving communities where Chinese families raise children, cook dinners, and simulate the experiences of a pseudo-Orange County or Oxford.
In recounting the untold and evolving story of China s predilection for replicating the greatest architectural hits of the West, Bianca Bosker explores what this unprecedented experiment in duplitecture implies for the social, political, architectural, and commercial landscape of contemporary China. With her lively, authoritative narrative, the author shows us how, in subtle but important ways, these homes and public spaces shape the behavior of their residents, as they reflect the achievements, dreams, and anxieties of those who inhabit them, as well as those of their developers and designers.
From Chinese philosophical perspectives on copying to twenty-first century market forces, Bosker details the factors giving rise to China s new breed of building. Her analysis draws on insights from the world s leading architects, critics and city planners, and on interviews with the residents of these developments.