A 108-meter high Eiffel Tower rises above Champs Elysées 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 popular and startling “duplitecture” 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. Why has the Chinese real estate industry rewritten the capitalist real estate mantra “location, location, location” into “replication, replication, replication”?
The answers take readers deep inside the workings of the Chinese housing market – the boom of private homeownership, as well as developers’ complicated, sometimes corrupt relationship with the state – and brings them into the living rooms of contemporary Chinese consumers to reveal their tastes, choices and dreams. Bosker’s investigation into these copycat communities provides a new and comprehensive analysis of China’s attitude toward copying, which the author traces back to its pre-modern roots. And, it offers a startling new perspective on the mindset of Chinese consumers and China’s changing attitude toward the West.
With insights drawn from interviews with the architects, government officials, real estate developers and homeowners fueling this unprecedented experiment in duplitecture, Original Copies provides a rich account of how contemporary Chinese culture, class distinctions, urban space, and government power are being reconfigured in the New China.
MORE COVERAGE of ORIGINAL COPIES
The Atlantic Duplitectural Marvels
Atlantic Cities An Eiffel Tower in Hangzhou
The Daily Beast The Best Knockoff Buildings in China
Financial Times Copycat Constructions
The Huffington Post Why China's Homeowners Live in Fake Paris
The New York Review of Books Faking It in China
Nightline China's 'Fake' Cities Are Eerie Replicas
PRAISE FOR ORIGINAL COPIES
“Original Copies is itself an original…I have never learned more and been stimulated to think more about architecture, planning, culture, and society, China’s future, modernism, and globalism than I have with the ready of this book.”
- Yi-Fu Tuan, American Geographical Society
“The topic is multifaceted, to be sure; Bosker’s account handles it comprehensively, presenting the various angles with patience and care.”
“A surreal catalogue of ‘duplitecture’ brilliantly documented.”
“Drawing upon a thorough grasp of history, original field research that she personally conducted in China, and discussion with leading scholars, Bosker has written a fascinating, nuanced, visually compelling, and extremely readable book about China’s ‘duplitecture’: the copycat production of iconic versions of Western buildings and cities.”
“[Original Copies] sheds fascinating light on a vital subject.”
“Bianca Bosker’s Original Copies (2013) [is] one of the more welcome additions to the growing literature on Chinese cities…Built around observations, field research and interviews, Original Copies goes beyond the often shallow and sometimes prejudicial reports of China’s urban emergence.”
- Alastair Donald, Future Cities Project
“Bosker’s work is poised on the sharp, cutting edge of contemporary China’s headlong rush into cultural modernity…This is an exceptional work, marked by an extensive, rigorous and subtle analysis of things Chinese.”
- Jerome Silbergeld, Princeton University
“Original Copies will appeal both to specialists in contemporary Chinese studies and to a wider public curious about these arresting images of a consumer society in formation.”
- Christian Hubert, Parsons – The New School
“The Chinese proclivity for architectural imitation is the subject of a fascinating new book by Bianca Bosker…What is especially interesting and indeed provocative in this book is how Bosker explains the current Chinese proclivity for architectural mimicry…Original Copies tells us much about China today and its people. The research is impressive: what is more striking is how Bosker captures an important stage of China’s creative transformation.”
- Michael Keane, Queensland University of Technology