Photos Capture China's Copycat Architecture Phenomenon

By Nomvelo Chalumbira, July 5, 2019

0 0

China has a well-known history as a center of counterfeit culture. In recent years, the Chinese phenomena of copying has gone beyond consumer goods and progressed to large scale construction. 

London-based photographer Cian Oba-Smith’s recent photographic series, Shanzhai (the Chinese word for copycat) explores this marvel of Chinese copycat architecture also known as duplitecture (an intentional, functioning copy of a pre-existing, and often familiar, piece of architecture). 

WATCH: China’s Copy-Paste Architecture

Copying architectural styles is one thing, but where China really excels is creating exact replicas of buildings. Over the last 15 years, many settlements and communities have been built on the outskirts of cities like Shanghai and Hangzhou. The Eiffel Tower at high-end real estate development Tianducheng in Hangzhou is just one such example of an iconic building recreated by Chinese architects.

Shanzhai examines the duplitecture trend in the wider context of globalisation, which has inevitably resulted in cross-culture pollination. Although the duplicated towns were initially deemed a failure, with some becoming ‘ghost towns,’ it would seem that the Chinese construction industry went for function, rather than demand, on these housing projects. As such, more recently China’s urban middle class has expanded exponentially and the need for housing has increased with the population. 

Nowadays these settlements have seen an influx of Chinese residents moving in. In Oba-Smith’s images, a sense of their sterility and sparseness is preserved, with few people wandering the streets or enjoying activities outdoors. Oba-Smith’s work also brings China’s fondness for imitation to the forefront, and forces us to question the originality behind these settlements. 

You can see some of Oba-Smith’s snaps from the series Shanzhai below:

Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-11.51.05-AM.png
Image via cianobasmith.co.uk

Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-11.51.21-AM.png
Image via cianobasmith.co.uk

Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-11.51.31-AM.png
Image via cianobasmith.co.uk

Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-11.52.50-AM.png
Image via cianobasmith.co.uk

Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-11.53.30-AM.png
Image via cianobasmith.co.uk

Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-11.53.59-AM.png
Image via cianobasmith.co.uk

Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-11.54.11-AM.png
Image via cianobasmith.co.uk

Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-11.54.22-AM.png
Image via cianobasmith.co.uk

Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-11.55.29-AM.png
Image via cianobasmith.co.uk

READ MORE: Huawei's Dongguan Campus Replicates 12 European Cities


For more photo essays, click here.

[Cover image via cianobasmith.co.uk]

more news

16 Awesome Things to Do This Week in Shanghai

Events to fill your August calendar.

This Day in History: Bloody Saturday, Shanghai's Darkest Day

New York Times bestselling author's new book on the 1937 Japanese bombing of the city.

This New Shanghai Exhibition Reimagines Everyday Objects

On July 28, the exhibition showcasing in Shanghai West Bund Museum The Voice of Things officially opened to the public.

16 Awesome Things to Do This Week in Shanghai

Events to fill your August calendar.

This Day in History: Bloody Saturday, Shanghai's Darkest Day

New York Times bestselling author's new book on the 1937 Japanese bombing of the city.

This New Shanghai Exhibition Reimagines Everyday Objects

On July 28, the exhibition showcasing in Shanghai West Bund Museum The Voice of Things officially opened to the public.

This Day in History: Lujiazui's 'Terra Natura' Angels Sculpture

Wu Ching-ju's pair of faceless fairies float elegantly above the ground.

0 User Comments

In Case You Missed It…

We're on WeChat!

Scan our QR Code at right or follow us at Thats_Shanghai for events, guides, giveaways and much more!

7 Days in Shanghai With thatsmags.com

Weekly updates to your email inbox every Wednesday

Subscribe

Download previous issues

Never miss an issue of That's Shanghai!

Visit the archives