Last edited 13 Aug 2021


This example of duplitecture is a copy of the main square Halstatt. It was built near Huizou, Guangdong Province.


[edit] Introduction

Duplitecture is a term that describes duplicated architecture, replicated architecture or copycat architecture. This form of architectural mimicry is primarily found in China.

[edit] History

Copycat buildings are not new in China. Its origins trace back to the first emperor of a unified China, Qin Shi Huang (259 BC - 210 BC), who is known for his terracotta army.

As a display of power and superiority, replica landmarks were made for imperial rulers to show off noteworthy places they defeated. These leaders would also replicate foreign gardens by importing plants and wildlife that would have been found in the conquered area.

In its modern iteration, duplitecture gained popularity during Shanghai's "One City, Nine Towns" plan. This government initiative, which was meant to ease overcrowding in Shanghai’s city centre, resulted in the creation of 10 duplitecture satellite cities based on the architectural styles of different European countries.

[edit] What defines duplitecture?

Duplitecture should not be confused with scaled down replicas found in places such as Las Vegas or Disney World’s Epcot theme park. Instead, its structures are commonly produced on (or close to) the same scale as the originals, although there may be some changes due to material availability or other matters. There may also be aesthetic changes, such as colour.

These buildings are primarily designed by Chinese architects. They are often meant to be entirely functional spaces. They may incorporate ideological adaptations, such as those associated with Feng shui, to enhance their habitability.

Some duplitecture projects replicate easily identifiable buildings. One example is the US White House - which is one of the most popular duplitecture structures in China.

Others reproduce large portions of identifiable European or American cities. These examples may be older cities, such as Venice (complete with canals) or Paris (with 12 square miles of housing along with a copy of the Eiffel Tower). Both of these duplitecture communities are located in the suburbs of Hangzhou.

Other duplitecture examples may be a patchwork collection of familiar architectural styles and iconic elements associated with specific countries. One instance is Thames Town in the outskirts of Shanghai - with its mock Tudor buildings, red telephone boxes, English pub, statues of Churchill, Shakespeare, James Bond and so on.

Instances of duplitecture can be found in the suburbs of several Chinese cities. While some critics take issue with their lack of authenticity, others acknowledge the craftsmanship of the reproductions.

Some of the communities include business-related incentives that support the authenticity of the reproduction. For example, a French bakery might be found in a Paris duplitecture community.

[edit] Decrease in duplitecture popularity

Many of the Chinese duplitecture projects built in the 2000s have lost their residential appeal. People have moved away from the novelty communities, leaving the cities largely abandoned. However, they are still relatively popular as tourist attractions and as backdrops to photoshoots - particularly for weddings.

--Heidi Schwartz

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