“Everyone dreams of living in Paris.” – Natalie Portman
In the Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of China lies Tianducheng or the Sky City. This housing estate is no ordinary place to live. At the very centre of Tianducheng stands a perfect replica of the Eiffel tower towering over its surroundings from a height of 354 ft.
But that’s not all. In the 164 acres surrounding this Eiffel tower lies a city that one could actually mistake for the city of Paris itself. All the buildings are constructed along the lines of French neo-classical architecture and the facsimile Eiffel tower lights up at night just like the original.
Architects in China hold the belief that imitation can actually make you more creative and innovative. This brings us to a concept called dupliceture. According to Achinect’s Lexicon, dupliceture is ‘an intentional functioning copy of a pre-existing and often familiar, piece of architecture.’
When China went through an economic boon towards the end of the 20th century, many of her citizens celebrated their successes by building new homes which often copied architectural styles originating in other countries. They specifically chose cities and monuments from countries that they saw as successful and influential.
The Paris in Hangzhou is one such feat of dupliceture. Besides the Eiffel tower, the city also boasts of an Arc de Triomphe, a Champs Elysees main square and even a Luxembourg Gardens Fountain. The tower itself stands at 1/3rd the height of the original and is the second largest such replica in the world.
This housing suburb, built on a sprawling 164 acres was originally meant to house around 10,000 people. However, even today there are only about 2000 people living in the area, many of whom are working on an upcoming French style amusement park nearby.
There are some differences obviously between the original and the replica. For one, clothes are hung out to dry in plain view of the general public. There is no water in the majestic fountains. A vast majority of the buildings remain uninhabited and there aren’t even that many shops open and functioning. While there are tourists who go to see it and many go there for wedding photography and other photo shoots, this model of Paris is almost a ghost town.
Besides Tianducheng, there exist many other instances of dupliceture in China. Only a few hours away from this Paris exists a replica of the Parisian Pont Alexandre III. Near Beijing, a replica of Jackson Hole in Wyoming with a Route 66 running through it can be found. There’s even a place in Shanghai called Thames Town where all guards wear uniforms in the British style.
Though Wyoming is well populated, Thames Town, like Paris remains a ghost town.
To get some quick info on Tianducheng, check out this video from Nas Daily: