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Chinese replica Austrian village builds business, controversy (2)


10:56, June 09, 2012


Shi said he would no longer worry about a lawsuit over infringement on intellectual property rights that critics had expected.

"The Austrian delegation has given the nod to the project. They see it as unique, a part of the cultural exchange between the two countries," he explained.

Some analysts view Austria's approval of the complex as predictable, given that China has become the country's second-largest trade partner.

Shi objected that the project is not sheer plagiarism of Hallstatt and instead it incorporates styles from a number of Austrian towns.

However, his comments can not convince everyone.

"The place looks very 'European' and impressive. But it's not good enough as a replica of a UNESCO-listed world heritage site," Li Ting, a local resident, told Xinhua during her tour of the town.

"It's understandable to learn from foreign architecture, but we should show respect to our own history," said a senior Chinese architect who wished to remain anonymous.

Ma Yansong, another celebrated architect, also said a copy-cat housing scheme is not acceptable, arguing, "Only when we get down to studying our own culture, will there be something 'original'."

Shi admitted the success of the project came "by chance."

"We chose Austria simply because China already has British style, American style, French style, Spanish style, Italian style and Austrian style. To be honest, we didn't expect so much aftermath."

Nevertheless, he said he believed the developer would not undertake similar projects.

"Like ours, many Chinese real estate projects in China aim to open a window for consumers to see the world. In the future, maybe we should create more housing projects featuring the Chinese architectural style," Shi added.

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