Zaha Falls Victim to Archi-Piracy in China

International
Friday, January 4, 2013
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Zaha Hadid's Wangjing Soho project (left) and the Meiquan22nd Century project (right). (Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects / Sina)

Zaha Hadid’s Wangjing Soho project (left) and the Meiquan 22nd Century project (right). (Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects / Sina)

In 2010, AN wrote about an identity theft scandal involving some high profile British architects and Chinese¬†impostors¬†leaving some observers at the time to wonder if starchitects like Norman Foster or Zaha Hadid might be next. It now appears the archi-pirates have indeed set their eyes on Hadid’s curvaceous designs, setting of a construction race to see whether the copy-cat can outbuild the original and an international debate about intellectual property. Spiegel reported that Hadid’s Wangjing SOHO tower complex, proposed in 2011 for Beijing and now under construction, has been copied and rebranded as the Meiquan 22nd Century in Chongqing. When placed side by side (above), it’s tough not to see the distinct resemblance.

Zaha Hadid's Wangjing Soho project (left) and the Meiquan22nd Century project (right). (Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects / Sina)

Zaha Hadid’s Wangjing Soho project (left) and the Meiquan 22nd Century project (right). (Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects / Sina)

The developer of the Hadid complex told Spiegel that the clone-towers in the south of China are progressing with construction at a faster rate than the SOHO project, and could even be completed before Hadid’s original, noting that even if his company prevailed in court, the offending building would likely only face a financial penalty.

Satoshi Ohashi, the project architect at Zaha Hadid Architects, went as far as to tell the German publication, “It is possible that the Chongqing pirates got hold of some digital files or renderings of the project.” Many are not surprised that in an age of Photoshop and digital drawing, entire architectural projects are being copied, including architects at Hadid’s firm. While upset at the direct copy, Zaha herself expressed “excitement” at the idea her projects could spur mutations.

Zaha Hadid's Wangjing Soho project. (Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects)

Zaha Hadid’s Wangjing Soho project. (Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects)

4 Responses to “Zaha Falls Victim to Archi-Piracy in China”

  1. Pedestrian says:

    CONTEXT: Have you seen the width of these streets, the number of lanes, and the extra-wide intersections for both projects? A perfect way to alienate your pedestrians in an unwalkable environment! The fantastic view of the buildings will not be enough of a consolation to justify such a disrespect to the most basic form of mobility. (although I understand that the architects didn’t have direct control on the roadway design)

  2. Frank Ducote says:

    Piracy is too strong a word for such a direct ripoff of such sculptural objects in space.

    Having said that, neither of these two schemes appears to have any relationship to their adjacent streets and surrounding context, and thus seem to fall very short of blazing equally new directions in walkable urbanism.

  3. Frank Ducote says:

    Sorry, I didn’t see Pedestrian’s comment before proving my similar one.

  4. John J. Delibos says:

    Sculptural beauty: A+

    Originality: A+

    Able to impress the Chinese: A+ (obviously or it wouldn’t have already been ripped-off)

    Assimilates well into its surroundings: D

    Pedestrian friendly: D

    Overall grade:C

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