The culture that is China (Austria)

Residents of the Austrian mountain town of Hallstatt, population 800, are scandalized. A Chinese firm has plans to replicate the village — including its famous lake — in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, Austrian media reported this week.

The Chinese have been “spying” on the town for some time.  Here is more:

But creating an exact duplicate of a city may not be legal, according to Hans-Jörg Kaiser from Icomos Austria, the national board for monument preservation under UNESCO. “The legal situation still needs to be examined,” he said. Building new structures based on photographs is legal, he explained, but owners must give their permission for them to be measured.

This isn’t the first time a Chinese firm has used a European place as inspiration. The Chinese city of Anting, some 30 kilometers from Shanghai, created a district designed to accommodate 20,000 residents called “German Town Anting.” Modelled after a typical mid-size German city by architecture firm Albert Speer & Partner, it includes Bauhaus style architecture and a fountain with statues of Goethe and Schiller.

In 2005 Chengdu British Town was modelled on the English town of Dorchester. One year later Thames Town was finished near Shanghai, complete with a 66-meter tall church that bears a striking resemblance to a cathedral in Bristol. Also near Shanghai are mini versions of Barcelona, Venice and the Scandinavian-inspired Nordic Town. The architectural plagiarisms are popular destinations among middle-class Chinese, even serving as backdrops for wedding photos.

There are good photos at the link (excellent slideshow), and you will see that the town is eminently copyable.  It’s funny how a town gets insulted when outsiders start taking its kitsch seriously as proper kitsch.


Did anyone sue for copyright infringement when Disney World did this?

Disney writes copyright laws, so would have been pointless.

Hilarious. The Chinese make a fuss of 'doing it their way', i.e., not being western, but studiously copy western lifestyle including communities. It's their Disneyland.

I've been to Hallstatt (lovely place). Are they planning to copy the skulls as well:

Sure, I hear they've ensured themselves a supply of Tibetian monk skulls.

Not that different from Leavenworth, WA, is it?

Albert Jr. should have let his partner name the firm, I think...

Another wrinkle: the Thames Town mentioned in the article is completely deserted:

This post should really be titled "Austro-Chinese business cycle theory, construction edition."

If only the Chinese had copied the legal & judicial structures too, the Austrians might have some hope of legal action. Question: what should the Chinese copy from the West?

Vegas baby. Go full-on meta.

Using the photo as reference: I'm picturing the Chinese version with Smog, a greenish lake, an a floating island of cigarette butts.

The more they build empty cities the more nervous I get.

Next on the list for China's reverse engineers: Originality.

Maybe they should copy Newark instead.

Not too different than what goes on in Las Vegas is it? Not sure if the real article can ever properly be called kitsch.......

Future movie sets!

Seriously, Albert Speer & Partner?

Man, they're behind the times. Japan did this YEARS ago.

The concept of kitsch may be the most destructive idea of modernity. Copying beautiful things is not only not a bad thing, it's an incredibly smart thing. The stupid thing is trying to come up with a great original idea when others have already thought of good solutions for your problem. Contra popular opinion, the copies are often better than the orignal. Beaux Arts is not a kitschy effort to copy antiquity. It was a brilliant application of long discovered truth about human taste to a new age. And even when copies are not as good as the brilliant orignal they ape, they're generally better than efforts at novelty. The Bankers Trust building (14 Wall Street) is infinitely better than the Seagram Building. The fact that supposedly sophisticated people believe otherwise — or feel they must claim to believe otherwise to signal their sophistication — is probably the biggest reason why the overwhelming majority of environments built after WWI fail.

The Greek should sue Nashville in building an exact replica of Parthenon. lol

And Memphis for the Pyramid arena

Albert Speer had his hands bathed in blood but he was a great architect like Porsche was a great designer and our Von Braun was great rocket designer.

A metals trading company with a real estate subsidiary building a replica Austrian village in the countryside definitely harks back to peak-of-the-bubble Japan.

Can't wait until they copy San Francisco's Chinatown

BTW, most of China's factory towns were influenced by Gary,IN

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