After a fair amount of criticism for its almost surreal collection of copycat architecture, China recently made headlines again for a debate over its latest foray into aesthetic duplication: a facsimile of London’s famous Tower Bridge.
Photos of the bridge, a fixture in the city of Suzhou since it was completed in 2012, were cause for a spirited online discussion unearthed last week by The New York Times. As the Times reports, some comments were celebratory, others (perhaps the majority) derogatory.
Either way, two questions emerged: How have things — with some 56 replicated bridges in Suzhou alone and thousands of examples throughout China — gotten so far, and where, architecturally, does the country go from here?
To illustrate just how deep-seated copycat culture is in China’s developing cities, we’ve pulled five recent examples of buildings and monuments that say little more than déjà vu.
1. Resembles London’s Tower Bridge – Suzhou, China
The Suzhou London Bridge, which was widened to four towers rather the original’s two, sits over the city’s main waterway and was completed in 2012. A copy of the Sydney Harbor Bridge can be found just down the river.
2. Resembles U.S. Capitol Building — Wuhan, China
Construction was halted in 2007 on this unfinished replica of the U.S. Capitol building, situated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. Intended as a hotel, the building was left unoccupied for some time but now serves as a local driving school.
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3. Resembles Cloud Gate – Karamay, China