Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China

Bianca Bosker. Univ. of Hawaii, $30 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8248-3606-1
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.)
Reviewed on: 02/25/2013
Release date: 01/01/2013
Open Ebook - 178 pages - 978-0-8248-3783-9
Paperback - 978-988-8139-14-9
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