Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Not England, but an incredible simulation!

Okay, I'm pretty tired. It's been kind of a stressful week, and I just got back from a lovely sushi dinner. Sake was consumed.

So while I'd like to offer up some witty commentary here, I think I'm just going to have to let this Guardian article stand on its own:
Look at those white stucco Regency terraces. This must be Pimlico. Look again. Well, perhaps we are in Bristol; that's the spire of St Mary Redcliffe over there, isn't it? On the other hand, all those black-and-white Tudor shops seem to spell Chester. Right?

Wrong. This is not England, nor even a chim-chiminee Hollywood film set. Welcome to Thames Town, a grotesque, and extremely funny parody of an olde English town seen through Chinese eyes, and built by canny British developers.

Thames Town is one of seven satellite towns nearing completion on the fringe of Shanghai built by the municipal government to re-house 500,000 people. Its six siblings have been designed in equally potty national dresses. Take your pick from architectural styles adopted from Italy, Spain, Canada, Sweden, Holland and Germany.

The German new town, by the way, is the work of Albert Speer. But, no, not that one - his son. Instead of mighty domes and stadiums, Speer junior offers the Chinese volk Hansel and Gretel-style gingerbread homes.

But only Thames Town boasts a chippy, a gothic church, village green and mock-Tudor pub selling real ale. Built from scratch in little over three years, the £200m project encompasses five centuries of British architecture. At its centre are half-timbered Tudor-style buildings. By the waterfront, Victorian redbrick warehouses have been pre-emptively "converted" into shops. The residential area includes gabled Edwardian houses bordered by privet hedges, manicured lawns and leafy roads.
A gingerbread German town, in China, built by Albert Speer Jr.? See, this is the problem with modern society. It makes satire obsolete.

One question: just what is Canadian architectural style?

From our good friends at China Digital Times.

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