The Chinese are notorious for their knock off designer bags and pirated DVDs. They have even set up an Apple Store which physically replicates the most minute details of a real one. Now the firm of architects, Meiquan 22nd Century have plagiarised The Wangjing Soho building complex, described as “a beacon along the way to Beijing’s modern gateway, the Capital Airport, and the journey of transition to and from the city”.
The project by the Iraqi/ British architect Zaha Hadid is only half built but a developer in the southwestern city of Chongqing is erecting a complex so similar that eyebrows are being raised as to the source of the intellectual property behind the design.The Wangjing Soho complex consists of three pebble-like constructions and will house an office and retail complex. Her designs were unveiled in August 2011 and the completion date of the project is scheduled for next year. Both designs share the highly distinctive round contours and white stripes of a 39-floor shopping and office complex originally conceived by Hadid.
A magazine known as China Intellectual Property pointed out that the “design sketch indeed shows certain similarities”, and listed several buildings by the developer that resembled others elsewhere in China. Satoshi Ohashi, project director at Zaha Hadid Architects for the Beijing complex, told Der Spiegel Online: “It is possible that the Chongqing pirates got hold of some digital files or renderings of the project.” The Chinese are known for ripping off foreign products without permission. Meiquan 22nd Century, has denied copying and Chinese laws are not in place to prosecute the forgers. “Everyone says that China is a great copycat country,” said Zhang Xin, the property developer who commissioned Dame Zaha. “And that it can copy anything.”
Hadid, who recently designed the Aquatics Centre for the London Olympics, currently has eleven projects in China, including a granite and glass opera house in the southern city of Guangzhou and an arts centre under construction in Chengdu, among other projects.
Born in 1950 in Baghdad, Iraq, she has become one of the most famous architects in the world. Hadid is the only woman to have won the Pritzker Prize for architecture. She has also won the prestigious Sterling Prize.
Photo: Left: Model of the Wangjing SOHO (left) building in Beijing, designed by Zaha Hadid, Right: the Meiquan 22nd Century building in Chongqing