China isn't afraid to brazenly mimic architecture, but copycats have now turned their attention to buildings that don’t even exist yet. A construction team in Southern China is copying the Wangjing Soho, an office and retail complex designed by London-based architect Zaha Hadid that’s due to be completed in 2014. The designers behind the original project believe that the copycat architects may have based their own version on renders of the original building, but that wouldn't allow them to build an exact replica. Despite the drawbacks of working from a rough 3D model, the Chinese workers are outpacing construction of the original building.
It’s a phenomenon that seems to be pervasive in China, with one Dutch architect dubbing the pirates "Photoshop designers." The would-be builders simply copy and paste buildings into place on PCs, roughly plotting out the future landscape of a city. It’s a crude way of doing things, but the flexibility — combined with China’s cheap labor costs — certainly helps rapid expansion.