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blogs

Jul 21, 2014

The Mirror Image: Top 10 Clones in Architectural Designs

Architecture
If imitation is the ultimate form of flattery, then architecture is one field that is surely full of it.The revered artist and sculptor Pablo Picasso once said, “Lesser artists borrow, great artists steal,” and Le Corbusier went on to personalize the statement: "Good architects borrow, but great architects steal." So you see, copying is, sometimes, second nature to human beings. In the Chinese culture, copying implies emulating a master of a particular field. Well, in this case, we are not completely sure if the following designs are emulated or simply replicated from the original designs. We leave you to be the judge of that.

The National Museum of XXI Century Arts (Maxxi) in Rome, designed by Zaha Hadid, is marked by her signature sinuous and fluid design. The structure won the coveted ‘World Building of the Year’ award at the prestigious World Architecture Festival Awards (WAF) in the year 2010. So when in 2011, the Liverpool Museum was inaugurated, its striking resemblance to the award-winning Maxxi Museum did irk a lot of Hadid’s fans.



(L-R) The Maxxi Museum and the Liverpool Museum

30 St Mary’s Axe-The Gherkin-Swiss Re Tower is an iconic structure, part of London’s skyline. It was designed by the renowned firm Foster+Partners for their client Swiss Re reinsurance company and completed in 2003. The Torre Agbar, a local municipal water company headquarters, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel in association with the Spanish firm b720 Fermin Vazquez Arquitectos, was set up in 2004. The similarity of the one-of-a-kind pickle design and the glistening facade is uncanny.


(L-R) The Gherkin and the Torre Agbar

The Hemeroscopium house in Madrid designed by Ensamble Studio and the Rishikesh House in India designed by Mumbai architects Rajiv Saini + Associates must be the doppelgänger of the architectural world. The scooping concrete roof cantilevers over the entrance of the Hemeroscopium house serves as an infinity pool, whereas in the latter, it is simply a decorative element created at an obtuse angle.


(L-R)The Hemeroscopium house and the Rishikesh House

What happens when you try to erect a structure that somewhat resembles the world’s only seven-star hotel? Well, you are most likely to be sued by their lawyers. That is exactly what happened to a project in Plymouth, UK. Officials of the Burj Al Arab launched a legal action against the developers of Clyde Quay Tower in Plymouth in 2007 stating that shape of the new development closely resembled the luxurious hotel. Well, it isn't completely off-the-mark. What do you say?  


(L-R) The Burj Al Arab and a rendering of the Millbay Tower in Plymouth

The proposed ‘Ice Cream City’ in Miami by Pharrell Williams’ and Chad Oppenheim seemed to have drawn inspiration, or maybe more, from Jakob+MacFarlane’s The Orange Cube in Lyon, France. Both projects have a similar web-like scrim and a gaping hole in the box-like design and, not to overlook, the bright orange hue. A case of borrowed design!


(L-R) The Orange Cube and an identical block from the proposed Ice Cream City

Another building that seemed to have drawn inspiration is the proposed 20-storey doughnut shaped GSI Tower. The building, designed by Sanzpont Arquitectura, is coming up in Cancun, Mexico. Notice how the three dimensional design with a gaping hole in the centre seems very similar to CCTV Headquarters in China, designed by Dutch Architect’s Rem Koolhaas' firm OMA.   


(L-R) The GSI Tower in Mexico and the CCTV headquarters in China

China is one place that is famous for all things fake, be it a fake iPhone or a haute couture rip off. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise if you walk through the towns and find the exact replica of starchitects’ famous renderings standing there. Here you see The White House in Washington D.C. and the university library in Shenyang, Liaoning province. You wouldn’t even believe that these are standing on two different continents, now would you? 


(L-R) The White House in Washington DC and the university library in Shenyang, Liaoning Province

Hadid's Wangjing Soho complex consisting of three pebble-shaped volumes up to 200 m high is still only under construction, but it has already been copied by a developer in Chongqing for the Meiquan 22nd Century project. Hadid’s firm ZHA has accused the developer of stealing their digital films and renderings. How else can one explain the exact same 3D rendering?


(L-R) Zaha Hadid's Wangjing Soho complex and the copycat Meiquan 22nd Century project

The creators of the Zhengzhou replica of the Ronchamp chapel must have been ardent admirers of Le Corbusier’s works but the Fondation Le Corbusier didn’t see it that way. When the counterfeit version of Corbusier's Ronchamp chapel—a spellbinding building in eastern France—sprung up in Zhengzhou in the 1990s, it was followed by agitated protests by Corbusier’s followers. Although the building was demolished, the ruin now serves as the surreal backdrop for a restaurant.


(L-R) Le Corbusier's Ronchamp chapel and its replica in Zhengzhou

The Museum of Hanoi in Vietman, designed by German architectural firm GMP, was opened to public in 2010. It displays Hanoi’s 1000 year history and Vietnam’s culture, heritage and architecture. Similarly, the Chinese pavilion at Expo 2010, also called the Oriental Crown, was set up in the same year. The pavilion showcased China’s civilisation and modern achievements. After the end of the Expo, the building was reopened on October 1, 2012, as the China Art Museum. We can’t help but wonder about the choice of inverted pyramid designs for both museums.


(L-R) The Museum of Hanoi in Vietnam and the China Art Museum    

Share your thoughts on plagiarism in architecture in the comments section!