Pirated Buildings In China And The Rise Of Architectural Mashups

from the cut-and-paste dept

Although China is often glibly dismissed as little more than an imitator of others, yet another story about copying paradoxically shows it leading the way. That's because what's being cloned is an entire building complex that's still under construction:

The project being pirated is the Wangjing SOHO, a complex of three towers that resemble curved sails, sculpted in stone and etched with wave-like aluminum bands, that appear to swim across the surface of the Earth when viewed from the air.

Zhang Xin, the billionaire property developer who heads SOHO China and commissioned [the famous architect Zaha] Hadid to design the complex, lashed out against the pirates during the Galaxy opening: "Even as we build one of Zaha's projects, it is being replicated in Chongqing," a megacity near the eastern edge of the Tibetan plateau. At this point in time, she added, the pirates of Chongqing are building faster than SOHO. The original is set for completion in 2014.
As the article in Der Spiegel quoted above notes, this isn't the first time that buildings have been copied by Chinese architects:
Last year, citizens of the Austrian hillside hamlet of Hallstatt were shocked when they inadvertently discovered Chinese architects had surreptitiously and extensively photographed their homes and were building a doppelgänger version of the UNESCO World Heritage site in southern China.
But here, as with the latest case, it's hard to see what the problem is. Nobody is mistaking these pirated versions for the originals: the use of photographs in the case of Hallstatt, and "digital files or renderings" in the case of the Wangjing SOHO, means that the results will only be approximate copies, lacking many key details that make the originals artistically notable. If anything, their existence will encourage visitors to seek out the real thing to find out what inspired this massive effort. After all, if somebody goes to the trouble of constructing copies of entire buildings in this way, they must think pretty highly of the original.

What's significant here is that this building piracy can be seen as part of a new trend -- the rise of a high-speed cut-and-paste approach to urban design based around architectural mashups:

Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, who designed Beijing's surreal, next-generation CCTV tower, has stated the super-speed expansion of Chinese cities is producing architects who use laptops to quickly cut and paste buildings into existence. Koolhaas, in the book "Mutations," calls these architects Photoshop designers: "Photoshop allows us to make collages of photographs -- (and) this is the essence of (China's) architectural and urban production…. Design today becomes as easy as Photoshop, even on the scale of a city."
Fortunately, the architect of the cloned Wangjing SOHO seems to agree:
Zaha Hadid said she has a philosophical stance on the replication of her designs: If future generations of these cloned buildings display innovative mutations, "that could be quite exciting."
Not only that: these pirate mutations will boost her already-considerable reputation in China yet further, and enrich her artistic legacy.

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    shane (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 8:27pm

    Now if only

    China seems to have this Jekyl and Hyde thing going on where they allow some things that we try to stamp out, then turn right around and forbid things (Like, you know.. free speech) that seem so much more obviously needful.

    Still, good on Zaha Hadid.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 8:53pm

    So if China claims to have created it first, and it's the other that are copying it...?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 9:02pm

    You wouldn't download a building would you?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 9:38pm

      Re:

      I am proud to say I would, and have already tried on at least 3 occasions.

       

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      MrWilson, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 10:04pm

      Re:

      I already have, numerous times: minecraft-schematics.com/. Many of them are crap, but it gives you ideas for better innovations. And you end up changing even the good ones to be geared towards your preferences and needs.

      Wait for 3d printing to ramp up even more and we'll see a whole lot more of the better designs of the world being copied and remixed and improved.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 11:43pm

    Outrageous, governments should pass laws criminalizing the copying of architectural concepts and make every social leech out there that owns a home and it is now benefiting from this freeloading to have to pay up or else.

    LoL

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 9th, 2013 @ 12:23am

      Re:

      Not only that, a lot of people live in apartments that are carbon copies of the apartment a floor above or below them.

      For shame!

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 9th, 2013 @ 12:32am

    Well, Korean already believe they created Sushi first, since their government say so, and what ever else that was created by other culture first, this won't hurt the origional creator in anyway.

     

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      John Fenderson (profile), Jan 9th, 2013 @ 9:08am

      Re:

      Like how we Americans tend to falsely believe that we invented the incandescent light, radio, the automobile, etc.?

      You're right, though, this is basically about bragging rights, and therefore it doesn't really matter.

       

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    varagix, Jan 9th, 2013 @ 12:37am

    Awesome. Now if only people actually had a use for these buildings. I mean, they're building cities faster than they can populate them last I heard.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 9th, 2013 @ 1:05am

      Re:

      It's China. Considering their population I'm sure they can find some people to throw into said cities. The problem is probably finding people who can afford to populate them.

       

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jan 9th, 2013 @ 1:22am

    Damn freeloading pirate architects. We need to censor the blueprints and fine the thieving scum 70 trillion quid.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 9th, 2013 @ 1:38am

    Buildings and Culture

    I see, Pirated building..? What is a Pirate now?

    First it started out as people stealing loot from ships, then something about copying DVDs, Games, etc on the Internet, and now having a copied building. Making a copied building makes you a Pirate now, because the other building was "stolen". Makes scientific sense right?

    Yet, we all did this before, it's how buildings, houses, etc started in the first place somehow. Yet how the heck do you copyright a building made of nature anyway? :P

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 9th, 2013 @ 3:16am

    China is the bootleg capitol of the world.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Jan 9th, 2013 @ 3:35am

    I never knew 3D printing would get that far! Did they download the blueprints at TPB? ;D

     

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    Capt Ice Enforcer, Jan 9th, 2013 @ 4:57am

    Which is original

    This may seem silly but if the copy is built first.
    Would that not make the copy be original, and the original be the copy. Maybe the Chinese can stop the original from being built do to intellectual property rights. That would solve all the issues.

     

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    Michael, Jan 9th, 2013 @ 5:02am

    China

    They should build a really big wall along the border of their country to prevent things like this from happening.

     

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    Michael, Jan 9th, 2013 @ 5:05am

    MPAA

    So, according to the MPAA, these guys have stolen a building. How cool is that?

    - What are you in for?
    - I stole a building.
    - A toy or model of great value?
    - Nope, an actual building. A really cool one too that looks like a groups of sails from the sky.

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Jan 9th, 2013 @ 8:05am

    So China gets 5 cool looking buildings instead of 3. I fail to see how anyone is harmed by this. Who cares who built it first?

     

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    Beta (profile), Jan 9th, 2013 @ 8:20am

    Same work, same pay, double the credit.

    So now Hadid can boast of being the designer of two building complexes in China.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 9th, 2013 @ 9:15am

      Re: Same work, same pay, double the credit.

      No word on whether Hadid prefers "Same work, double pay, same credit"...



      I saw one mall in China that had their own rendition of the Venetian in Las Vegas. Specifically, they copied the "canals in the mall" part.

      They even offer boat rides in the water. I'll, however, note that the Venetian in Las Vegas had gondola-shaped boats. The Chinese mall used rubber dinghys.

       

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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Jan 9th, 2013 @ 8:20am

    It's EXACTLY LIKE stealing my apartment from in front of my car.

     

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    orbitalinsertion (profile), Jan 9th, 2013 @ 11:41am

    Copying and building faster than the original. Hm. I might not be so quick to occupy such a structure. Plenty of originals have enough poor engineering (nice design, though!) and poor quality construction and materials.

     

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    John Pettitt (profile), Jan 9th, 2013 @ 11:44am

    Have you been to Las Vegas recently?

    Drive down the Vegas strip - building piracy is not exactly limited to China. Also every gothic cathedral in Europe.

    Now how ell engineered the copies in China are is a whole other issue...

     

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    art guerrilla (profile), Jan 10th, 2013 @ 7:28am

    i've noticed this a lot, actually...

    when i visited tampa a couple weeks ago, they had a mcdonalds EXACTLY like the one we have here ! ! ! i mean, it was uncanny how much they were alike down to the yellow color scheme and decor ! ! !

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

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