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Is ‘Reasonable’ An Appropriate Description for Replicas?

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      每当我们聊起一个城市,往往会首先罗列出这座城市的地标建筑与著名景观。这些地标性建筑不仅构成了一个城市美丽的天际线,更是一个城市的名片和象征。伦敦的伦敦塔,巴黎的埃菲尔铁塔,纽约的帝国大厦,华盛顿的白宫……一座座地标建筑在古往今来人们的注目中形成了其无可取代的吸引力。


      近几年在中国很多城市兴起了一股地标建筑模仿热。例如涟水环保局办公楼似山寨美国会大厦,合肥美术馆则仿佛模仿北京"鸟巢,更让人议论不已的是苏州的“伦敦塔桥”与杭州市天都城的“埃菲尔铁塔”。苏州这座塔桥横跨元和塘,外形基本参照英国伦敦的原桥建造。但由于桥面比原桥宽,经设计师精心改动,由两座塔楼变成了四座塔楼,外形更加宏伟。而天都城被开发得模仿巴黎街景,仿造巴黎传统建筑,甚至搬来了香榭丽舍大街和埃菲尔铁塔。这片住宅区可以容纳将近10万人居住,但截止目前只有有6000户居民入住。低入住率使其成为新的“鬼城”。模仿地标建筑的做法再一次受到质疑。

      而在天津,也有一座与伦敦地标建筑——伦敦眼非常相像的摩天轮。这是第一座建在桥上的摩天轮,它也成为了天津城市风景中的新地标。天津武清区的佛罗伦萨小镇是全意式风情建筑的奥特莱斯购物广场,它以其独特的区域风格和休闲舒适的环境吸引了京津冀很多顾客前来购物消遣。更为人熟悉也令人称道的是意式风情区。它已经成为天津城市的旅游观光休闲圣地,引入欧式风情却并不令人感到尴尬。

      在中国,如果说哪座城市与欧陆风情融合得最好,那应当是天津莫属了。 
 
For all  its wonderful and rich history, China is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating and fruitful countries to turn to if you want to understand and immerse yourself in an amazing culture. Beyond the obvious major landmarks and attractions like the Great Wall of China, Terracotta Warriors of Xi’an or even geographical wonders like the Yangtze River (notable for being the third longest river in the world and the longest river to flow entirely within one country), China is also a place where other cultures are represented in major landmarks and tourist attractions. Perhaps the mentality is if the UK, France or Italy is brought to you with a real sense of European flavour, is there ever really a need to leave the wonderful Middle Kingdom anyway?
 
It can be seen right here in Tianjin. If you want a little taste of London, just look towards the iconic Tianjin Eye. Modelled on the famous London attraction, namely London Eye, it is very easy to compare these Ferris Wheels to one another, making residents and expats alike wonder if there is a need to travel so far when cultures are brought to you right here in one country.
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Quality of construction and attention to detail when Chinese cities recreate world famous landmarks is hard to criticise. Landmark replicas are often pristine looking and can often confuse curious travellers to the extent that it can be questioned whether they really are in China any more. One such place that is accessible to Tianjiners which evokes this exact feeling is Florentia Village, located in WuQing District. Whether it is canals, bridges and gondolas which remind strollers of Venice or the terracotta coloured building facades which are reminiscent of Florentine architecture, residents of the city don’t need to go far for a taste of Italia (with the added plus of being able to shop to their heart’s content). 
 
For those who want a literal taste of Italy, the Italian Style Street located at the heart of Tianjin offers a range of restaurants offering authentic Italian cuisine. Punctuated with little stalls selling Venetian masks and other European souvenirs replicating European countries, this street serves as a welcome relief to the traditional culture seen throughout the city.  
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Considering Tianjin’s status as a port city and its significance in Chinese history and culture, it is not a surprise that remnants of European culture still exist in the city’s structure to remind residents and visitors of Tianjin’s unique character. But the craze to replicate other cultures is not confined to this city alone. 
 
Replicating landmark structures and representing other cultures in China has a strong power to divide popular opinion. Elsewhere, entire cities dedicated to replicating European culture remain as ghost towns. One such example is Tianducheng in the suburbs of Hangzhou. Complete with a 108-metre tall replica of Paris’ Eiffel Tower, along with Parisian style architecture and landscaping, the city was originally built in 2007 and had the capacity to house 10,000 residents. Yet Tianducheng remains uninhabited – left as a shell of a space with an eerie feel not welcomed by any one. Is the Chinese obsession to create replicas really because there’s a demand and interest in it or is it all a fallacy? 
 
When such structures and developments cost the government millions, are they a worthwhile investment or a superficial waste of space and money? Perhaps, but in today’s culture where smartphones and selfie-clicking is such a huge part of everyday life, these spaces generate great interest not just among residents of the Middle Kingdom who are likely to travel to these attractions for the photo, but also among those who belong to those borrowed cultures and need to really see the replicas to believe them. In any case, these wonders of China remain a great talking point across the globe and lucky for some, Tianjin is home to a fair few of these attractions if you’re willing to keep your eyes peeled to find them. 
 
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