Hallstatt village in Austria, photo by Boris Stroujko
Perhaps one day we won’t have to travel to Europe to see the Colosseum, or to India to see the Taj Mahal. The newest Chinese ‘knock off’ project appears to be thinking along these lines, after a tiny village in Austria was recreated entirely in the Guangdong area of China.
The project cost China $940 million, and recently opened its doors to visitors. Impressively, the recreation is said to be an exact replica of the beautiful European village of Hallstatt, and includes clones of the village’s church clock tower and its European style wooden houses which, along with other properties, will eventually be sold to investors.
Residents of the real Hallstatt were allegedly unhappy with this decision but have since begun to warm up to the idea, as the project has significantly increased tourism for the village. In fact, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Hallstatt has jumped from less than 50 to thousands per year, as Chinese tourists aim to compare the original village to their own replica.
Naturally, the Chinese version of the village will also attract a lot of tourist attention and has appeared to consciously set itself up as a tourist attraction, featuring many Disney-themed photo spots within the village. Only half an hour away from the city of Huizhou, the replica village appears to be off to a good start.
"The moment I stepped into here, I felt I was in Europe," Huizhou resident Zhu Bin said
"The security guards wear nice costumes. All the houses are built in European style."
Local authorities in Hallstatt have also attempted to quash rumours that they are still unhappy about the reproduction.
"It was not so controversial. We were only surprised that a small village in Austria was built, and now we are very proud that it happened," Hallstatt Mayor Alexander Scheutz said
Similarly, Hallstatt’s Director of Tourism Pamela Binder echoed the Mayor’s view.
"First we were a bit insecure. Why did it come to replicate Hallstatt, and then we became lucky and proud," she said
Naturally, some of Hallstatt’s residents remain unconvinced that the project was a good move.
"I don’t think that it is a good idea. Hallstatt is just unique with its culture and traditions. You cannot copy that. I saw a report and the photos, and the copy seems different. In my opinion it is unacceptable," resident Karin Höll said
As bizarre as the building clones may seem, it may well be wondered whether this is the future of architecture. China has long been known for being an international leader, and their latest venture raises questions as to whether other parts of the world will follow suit, or if China themselves will set their eye on replicating other parts of foreign countries.
Undoubtedly, the success of this replica will have a powerful impact on whether this will prove to be a continuing trend or a one-off experiment.