This post is about themed residential communities and inspired city-scapes in China. I'm making a comparison to the real countries, cities, and communities that inspired the Chinese versions, as well as to similarly inspired theme parks and vacation destinations in the U.S. and Europe. I've found locations in China inspired by Britain, France, New York, Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Austria, and Spain.
Many of these themed communities in China surround the city of Shanghai. Each suburban town surrounding Shanghai is being revamped, with a number of suburbs starting from scratch. These suburbs were each assigned a theme (Britain, Holland, Sweden, Italy, Germany, and Spain - along with Chinese-themed towns). The original project was cancelled in 2006, but some of the towns may have become part of a "Better City, Better Life" initiative adopted by the city of Shanghai. The Better City, Better Life initiative includes becoming a model urban center, and promises many of the benefits associated with Western life.
Some of the towns don't have a lot of residents right now, but rural folk are moving to cities in increasing numbers, lured by jobs and a chance at urban life. Shanghai is trying to make it fun.
Architecture is inspirational. I'm inspired by the scale of what's going on in China, and the historical moment we're in with something like this going on in a society. Let's hope the architecture inspires a living wage and a decent safety net for the people of China. I think Shanghai is on the right track, but the same idea has surfaced all over China.
If you're curious, the French (Parisian) themed community in China is in Hangzhou (near Beijing), not Shanghai. The New York section of Tianjin is just sort of some urban fun resulting from a happy coincidence - their river forms an area that looks similar to New York City's financial district, and there was nothing there but an old fishing village. Tianjin is China's fastest growing city, and they need to expand quickly.
Tianjin is also home to Asia's largest Italian-themed community, parts of which are actually a hundred or more years old. The old buildings are being fixed up, and new Italian-themed buildings are being added.
We are all inspired by architecture, and we all use architectual "themes" in our cities and towns. We do it in the present-day, and we've done it throughout our history. I've included some photos of cities - both new and historical - along with theme parks and other locations that use themes to inspire us. Just scroll through the photos below. If you're feeling inspired, click some of the links. All of the links go to official web sites, making it easy to check some of this stuff out in person. Enjoy it!