University of Hawaii Press
博 斯克在想﹐為什麼上海的某幢政府辦公樓會修建成白宮的樣子﹐並且擁有與國會大廈一樣的穹頂﹐於是她得出結論﹐對西方的模仿並不一定是恭維﹐也可能是一種想 要佔上風的嘗試﹐這反映了中國日益增長的信心。儘管她不是唯一一個在建築中看到中國實力的評論者﹐博斯克對中國為何偏愛西式風格的答案簡潔明瞭：因為中國 可以。
博斯克最近接受了“中國實時報”欄目James T. Areddy的電話採訪。以下是經過編輯的採訪實錄。
在 杭州有一個按四分之三比例建造的埃菲爾鐵塔的復製品。有房頂和百葉窗顏色非常深的聯排房屋。但是開發項目中還包含了非巴黎式的地標建築。這裡有巴黎的埃菲 爾鐵塔﹐有位於法國另外一個城市的尼姆競技場﹐有凡爾賽的花壇花園。這不是對法國的忠實復製。這是一種法國最偉大建築的融合﹐讓人聯想起貴族生活方式的建 築的融合。他們沒有復製蓬皮杜藝術中心(Pompidou)﹐和其他任何現代建築﹐因為那不符合法國建築的傳統理念。
我在北京的維也納花園(Vienna Gardens)見到了一名男子。他的住宅外有幾尊希臘雕像。他驕傲地介紹著家中一切西方或是進口的東西。他的台燈是希臘的﹐ 上的繪畫是西班牙的。但是他的住宅中有一個房間被設計成傳統的中國茶室的樣子。
James T. Areddy
Eight Questions: Bianca Bosker on China's 'Original Copies' in ArchitectureTouring around China, journalist Bianca Bosker says she heard more than once that the ideal life is, 'to eat Chinese food, drive an American car and live in a British house.'
She tested the residential principle, finding not only English estates but French chateaus, Dutch townhouses and German villas too.
In her new book, 'Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China' (University of Hawai'i Press, 2013), Ms. Bosker examines the country's copycat construction of Eiffel Towers, Venetian canals, Gothic cathedrals and statues of people like Winston Churchill.
'For the Chinese, the culture of the copy has a distinct value,' she writes.
In 'Original Copies,' Ms. Bosker, an editor for the Huffington Post in New York, has written a considered study of a trend more often dismissed in jest.
The book has plenty of photos. But Ms. Bosker resisted the coffee-table photo essay approach to China's widely recognized fakes phenomenon; she uses the word 'kitsch' only three times in the 132-page text.
'When you hear about the architecture being built in China, you constantly hear about incredible, futuristic, record-breaking modern architecture,' Ms. Bosker said in an interview. 'That completely ignores what is going on in the suburbs, which is much more retro. It's Louis XIV's private architect from Versailles who is seeing his work knocked off.'
Much of Ms. Bosker's analysis comes from western architects and observers. But instead of standing out in front of these places and snickering, Ms. Bosker knocked on doors to meet homeowners in China's 'alien residential' communities, as she calls them.
Zhang Xiaohong tells Ms. Bosker her Shenzhen address in Galaxy Dante broadcasts that 'we have a social identity at the upper level.'
Pondering why Shanghai might model a government office as the White House topped with the Capitol's dome, Ms. Bosker determines that fakery of the West isn't necessarily flattery ─ it can also be one-upmanship that reflects growing Chinese confidence. While she isn't the only critic to see evidence of Chinese mastery, and even put-downs, in the architecture, Ms. Bosker is succinct about why China has gone western: 'Because it can.'
The author recently spoke by telephone with China Real Time's James T. Areddy. Here is an edited transcript.
In the book you describe 'the culture of the copy' in China. What do you mean?
In the West there is a sense that copy is very taboo. It's a terrible thing. It's a sign of a lack of imagination.
In China, copy doesn't have the same stigma. You can have a copy and it can be a sign of technological achievement and cultural achievement and it's not inferior.
It's not to say that originality is not prized; it's to say you can copy something and that it can retain more so than we think in the West character and essence of the original. Likewise, to copy something can actually be to show mastery of something, both figuratively and literally. I talk about the imperial landscape where rulers would replicate the kingdoms of conquered people within their own domain to show their superiority.
An architect is quoted saying 'foreign designers won't design the type of foreign architecture the Chinese want.' What kind of 'foreign architecture' do Chinese want?
It's not just Paris that is being copied. It's a particular vision that the Chinese hold of Paris.
In Hangzhou, they have a 3/4 replica of the Eiffel Tower. There are town houses that have very dark roofs and shutters. But they've tiled all these non-Parisian landmarks into the development. You've got the Eiffel Tower in Champs Elysées Square. You've got the amphitheatre of Nîmes from a totally different part of France. You've got the parterre garden of Versailles. This is not an honest true replica of France. This is kind of an amalgamation of the greatest hits of French architecture and those that are evocative of an aristocratic lifestyle. You look at what they've left out: the Pompidou, any sort of modern architecture because that is not fitting into the concept of French architecture.
It's not like Las Vegas. These are not theme parks. These are homes. These are communities. These aren't just tourist attractions though they can be that too.
Many of these communities have very strong architectural covenants that prohibit changes that would undermine the Western nature of the development. In (one) case, they relaxed the regulations…..so they could improve the feng shui. The ideal life might be living in a British villa but it better be a British villa with great feng shui.
What are some of the remarkable replicas you saw?
I went to one home in Shenzhen to see a home modeled after the White House. It was called the White House, bai gong. (The owner) was a self-made man; his family had suffered during the Cultural Revolution. Touring it with him, I remember stepping out of the house. He turned around and said, 'it's so beautiful. It's just so beautiful.' There was this constant sense of pride in it. He'd written poems about the house.
In Hangzhou, I watched a couple have a wedding in the upstairs of this French chapel. The guy officiating was dressed up as a pastor. They had a makeshift altar with a cross on it a cross covered with red Chinese flags. All through the ceremony there were bubbles.
I returned to these different places at different points. Some of them have remained ghost towns.
You find there's a marketing method in the seeming madness. One recent article suggests a fake Eiffel Tower is no different than a U.S. town advertising the 'World's Biggest Donut.' How do you see it?
It's absolutely true that the Western brand functions as a brand. It features very prominently in the marketing materials. The brochures trumpet every possible association with the West: Here in this British town, your neighbor might be a blonde and the other person next to you might be an expert in Shakespeare.
And the residents - do they live 'Western lifestyles?'
It's a hybrid. The Western style can permeate the decorations of the homes: Queen Anne sofas, big brocaded silk curtains, Western style wedding portraits.
I met a man at Vienna Gardens in Beijing. He has Greek statues outside his home. He was proud to point out everything in his home that was Western or imported. He had lamps that were Greek and paintings that were Spanish. But one room in his house had been to a 'T' designed as a very traditional Chinese tea room.
Some of these projects were the brainchild of political leaders, including Thames Town in the 'one city, nine towns' scheme of since-outsted Shanghai Communist Party secretary Chen Liangyu. Did you learn much about why he pushed that?
There was a sense this was a very top-down endeavor. There was no consultation. The advisers were called in to make this work. This was a pet project that was initiated by him.
Something that holds true in the Shanghai case and some of the other officially spearheaded projects was officials being able to point to an accomplishment under their tenure. I think there was an effort to bring more development to the suburbs.
These are status symbols on an individual level but also monuments of China's achievement on a state level….by being able to recreate the best architecture, most iconic architecture of the west.
Have you developed any theories about copying as a sign of strength or weakness for China?
Whether you think these developments are kitschy, tacky, beautiful, wonderful, we should come away in awe of China's ability to copy at all levels. There's this controversy over the Soho development in Beijing that Zaha Hadid designed that is (apparently) being copied in Chongqing. It's incredible because the copy is set to be finished before the original. We're not talking about pursues or shoes, or a website that takes a couple lines of code. We're talking about two enormous buildings.
It's wrong to look at China's copying and assume that China is going to go on copying forever. It's giving force to ingenuity and innovation on the other.
Some of these projects have been repurposed, including the British 'Thames Town' in Shanghai and Shenyang's 'New Amsterdam.' Has the trend gone away?
We're seeing already that these Western themed developments are being supplemented by other theme styles. One in particular is the arrival of traditional Chinese themed communities. There's increasingly a Chinese McMansion that is going up next to the traditional French McMansion.
James T. Areddy