Perhaps taking a page from Arrested Development's Wee Britain, this ersatz English Village on the outskirts of Shanghai is meant to be amalgamation of the UK cities of Bristol, Dorset, and Chester, but—alas—resembles none of them in practice. Much like China's faux Paris—a sprawl marked by the gaslamps, Juliet balconies, fountains, and cornices—Shanghai's little English town is essentially a ghost town. Thames Town was built in 2006 as part of Shanghai's One City, Nine Towns initiative, an attempt to curb the city's overpopulation and appeal to its suburbia-seeking nouveau riche by building upscaled planned communities on the outskirts in classical European styles. To this end, the city hired Western architects to plan three-to-four block distillations of the most stereotypical features of their home countries. (Predictably enough, the petit Paris has its own miniature Eiffel Tower.)
As any student of the planned community might also have predicted, some of these decontextualized European villages remain relatively unpopulated years later. Because many of the properties were swept up by speculators or bought as extra homes, the lack of daily commerce led to the closure of many local businesses, leaving the cobbled streets and red telephone booths of little Britain looking like a deserted theme park. There's an idea for Shanghai's developers: add a few roller coasters and start charging admission and the place might turn around.
· There Is A Fake English Village In Shanghai And It's Uncanny [Buzzfeed]
· All Abandonment Issues posts [Curbed National]
· Check Out China's Uncanny Faux Paris, Now a 'Ghost Town' [Curbed National]