China's Little Paris in Hangzhou ends up like ghost town and functions more as backdrop for wedding photography
Two migrant workers were washing off dust over their bodies after a whole day's hard work in this simple open-air bathroom in Tianducheng community which had not been opened on September 1, 2007. Surely, at price of at least 10,000 yuan (1660 USD) per square meter, the Little Paris is not built for the migrant workers, but meant to attract China’s rich and powerful.
We have seen western architectures sprouting across China, from replicated US White House to US Capitals, from Austrian town to English villages.
But there are bolder real estate developers who are not satisfied with just imitating single western architecture: they are building an entire western style city like the Little Paris in Hangzhou.
Located in the outskirts of Hangzhou city in East China's Zhejiang Province, the Little Paris, actually named as Tianducheng Sky City, boasts of the Champ de Mars, Arc de Triomphe, fountain found in the Palace of Versailles, and of course, it's very own Eiffel Tower.
Tianducheng, built by 2007 by Zhejiang Guangsha Real Estate Co., Ltd., is actually a housing project meant to attract China’s rich and powerful. The developer apparently wanted to give the wealthy Chinese a chance to enjoy European culture without actually having to travel thousands of miles. It took five years of meticulous construction and landscaping to create the entire 19 sq. km (12 sq. mile) community.
The idea and design of the project appears to be perfect except for the lukewarm market reaction. Odditycentral has more details:
According to Lu Xiaotian, the company’s director, “The community can house up to 10,000 people comfortably.” Apart from the obvious touristy feel, the community also provides amenities ranging from a school, a country club and a hospital.
All this is in the midst of the serene surroundings of a park atmosphere. The real estate group has largely capitalized on the fact that Chinese honeymooners tend to flock to Paris, and also that French designer labels and wine are popular status symbols in major Chinese cities.
So the community of Tianducheng gives residents the opportunity to sit on the steps by their very own Bassin de Latone, a cleverly done imitation of the famous fountain located in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles.
Of course, they can also admire the Eiffel Tower, which is a 108 m high replica of the 324 m original, in their very own neighborhood.
Apart from the obvious imitations of famous monuments, there are the Parisienne-style gardens surrounded by rows and rows of European-style villas.
Despite all the attractions that life in Tianducheng has to offer, the housing project appears to be not so successful. The Tianducheng residential community with its unique architecture style has drawn little attention in China until this year of 2013 when it was first covered in international media.
And there is still little information about the Little Paris in China. The last known population of the community was about 2000, way back in 2007. It should have more residents there now, but the situation has not improved significantly. Based on the pictures taken recently by international and local Chinese media, the Tianducheng is more like a ghost town.
Despite being nowhere near as busy as the developers hoped for, Tianducheng still contains a number of businesses: it has become a very popular place for newlywed couples to use as a backdrop in their wedding photos.
When the Mini Paris in Hangzhou finally draws nationwide attention thanks to international media, the Chinese netizens have the first impression of Tianducheng: a Shanzhai Paris.