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November 11, 2017 Comments (0) Views: 487 Urban Trekker

Copycat cities: China’s trends in Duplitecture

There is an evident trend of “architectural mimicry” that is unfolding in modern-day China

The Giant Devil’s Flower Mantis is known as one of the most prominent species of praying mantis, as well as possibly the most significant unit that mimics flowers in nature. While cases of mimicry in nature may look fantastic, what happens when nations imitate landmarks built in faraway countries. Not only signature buildings but as it turns out entire architecture styles and towns too.

Just a couple of hours ride outside Shanghai; there is Tianducheng, or what would be the Chinese attempt to recreate Paris and its urbanscapes. A central building which has come out of this construction effort is a replica of the Eiffel Tower, the third of its original height. The surrounding area is further occupied by residential development buildings that can house at least 10,000 people, but for the most part, this copycat city remains empty.

But duplicate Paris is just a tiny portion of what exactly is happening in China. As it seems, the Chinese has also razed down an entire ancient-like finish village known as Tianjin to make some space for a mini-Manhattan. Hopes are that this will be the new financial center of the world according to the Business Insider. This copycat city has duplicated buildings such as the Lincoln and the Rockefeller Center. Things are not going all as planned though, as building efforts have stopped for the moment, leaving the area nothing but a ghost town.

A caption from Tianducheng. The replica Eiffel Tower lurks in the distance, photo credit

There’s more. Much more. An entire copy of Austria’s prominent Hallstatt, the Alpine village protected under the UNESCO. A small London is also emerging just near Shangai, called ‘Thames Town,’ where there are cobble-stone streets as much as the iconic British red telephone boxes. A Chinese version of London’s Tower Bridge crowns the entire effort.

There is also something from the Russians such as Kremlin-style government buildings. And from the Italians and the Swiss: entire villages designed according to their original counterparts in Italy and Switzerland.

The entire movement has been designated as Duplitecture, and several books are coming up that want to examine the strange phenomena. Such is Bianca Bosker’s ORIGINAL COPIES: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China.

Below, explore some of the copycat cities and landmarks that mushroom through China

China’s re-creation of the Eiffel Tower, photo credit


Dutch landmarks are also not excluded from the duplitecture movement, photo credit


Some original blend has been done here, hello to the people of U.S., photo credit


An Italian town, part of Tianjin, photo credit


China’s re-creation of Venice, photo credit


Duplitecture case: Venice’s Plaza San Marco; on the left the Chinese, on the right – the right one in Italy, photo credit

We also thought to remind you of the world’s capital of imagination


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