China has long had a fascination with Europe, especially when it comes to famous architecture. So much so that over the years, an extraordinary thing has happened; replications of landmarks, sites and building blocks considered to be iconic on the continent have popped up in various different places across China. Now, a photographer from France has created a project that documents Chinese copies of Parisian buildings and landmarks and presents them side by side with the originals.
Created by François Prost, the unique project saw the photographer traveling to Tianducheng (also called Sky City), a big suburb of Hangzhou 200km away from Shanghai. Complete with a replica Eiffel Tower that is 100m high (three times smaller than the original), the city has taken inspiration from Paris’ famed architecture, and includes a 31km squared neighborhood modeled on the well-known Haussmannian Parisian blocks. From the façades of apartment blocks to statues, streetlamps, fountains and sculptures, the images show surprising attention to detail throughout the recreations.
“Behind the architecture, I think I was very curious about how people live in a place built with the same exact same appearance as another. Except for architecture, there is nothing much that connects those two places, and I think it’s an interesting [topic],” François Prost said about the project.
The series has been turned into a book called Paris, China and has been published by Hoxton Mini Press, displaying the Chinese replicas alongside images taken in Paris. Elements of different sites and buildings copying Versailles were also captured by François at Tianducheng.
“The subject seemed very interesting to me, not because of Paris especially but because of cultural references and cliché. I was always fascinated by the concept of cultural appropriation, like the mini Paris or the mini Venice they recreated in Vegas or in Dubai.” More of François’ work can be seen at his Instagram page.