China’s copycat architecture trend has been well documented – so far the nation has built full-scale replicas of the Eiffel Tower, the canals of Venice, and even an entire Austrian village. However when Chinese developer AuthentiCity Ltd. sought to recreate the historic hamlet of Colonial Williamsburg, it wound up with something else entirely – an exact replica of hipster haven Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
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Typically, when a Chinese developer decides to replicate a building they hire an architect from the project’s native country to capture its cultural context. So AuthentiCity Ltd. turned to New York City-based firm CTRL+C to recreate Colonial Williamsburg. The erstwhile capital of Virginia may now be a world leader in historical reenactment and butter churning, but its historic import can’t be denied – according to The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, “from 1699 to 1780 Williamsburg was the political, cultural, and educational center of what was then the largest, most populous, and most influential of the American colonies.”
That made it the perfect target for AuthentiCity Ltd.’s latest project – however it appears that something was lost in translation. Instead of a colonial village of 18th century basket makers, coopers, and cobblers, CTRL+C laid out a master plan dominated by block upon block of a once-industrial, gentrifying urban neighborhood, including an exact replica of the Domino Sugar Refinery, the Williamsburg Savings Bank Dome, and the Williamsburg Bridge. CTRL+C Principal Hans Kopia said: “They didn’t mention which Williamsburg they wanted – just that it had to be an exact replica of Williamsburg complete with the finest artisanal goods and services. When I hear the word “artisinal” – of course I immediately assume we’re talking about Williamsburg, Brooklyn”
They didn’t mention which Williamsburg they wanted – just that it had to be an exact replica of Williamsburg complete with the finest artisanal goods and services. When I hear the word “artisinal” – of course I immediately assume we’re talking about Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Working with construction firm ALT+DEL, the team paved over small villages and fields of rice paddies, and replaced them with renovated lofts, pour-over coffee shops, and reclaimed wood bars. Although the development has confused the local villagers, the developer is making the most of things – Chinese tourists seem to like the Brooklyn replica, with its craft ale, artisanal cheese shops, and bearded shop proprietors. According to local village resident Dong Wang “I have no idea what Colonial Williamsburg is, or what they were supposed to build here, but I know that this new development is cool and fun. I like “Smorgasburg” and all of the interesting ideas they have for cooking pigs.