China's predilection for cloning quaint European towns is well documented: there's already Thames, Hallstatt, a Stuttgart-esque German town, and of course, the "Paris" that's been filmed looking like a ghost town. But nestled in a mountainous region north of Beijing, a resort town heavily influenced by Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is apparently doing remarkably well. Work on this development started around 2006, when a developer commissioned Portland-based designer Allison Smith to create an entire resort community from scratch. Smith, taking in the surrounding landscape and "local fascination with American West and cowboy culture," led the construction of a 900-home town now called Jackson Hole, China. And it's hot stuff. The first models sold for $180K to $330K and have now tripled in value. In a recent essay published over at The Atlantic, writer Garnet Henderson, a native of the original Jackson Hole, discusses how this near-replica compares to her hometown and also delivers some fascinating details about how Smith actually pulled it off. Some highlights:
5. To reproduce the "feel of the high-end American West," Smith went through a trial-and-error process of sending material and furniture samples to China and seeing what the clients liked. The answer? "Kitschy things" like bear skins, elk antlers, and old whiskey bottles.
4. According to Smith, working with Chinese architects and contractors was a challenge, because "they're used to building skyscrapers and using nothing but mortar and steel construction." On her project website, she describes serving as a teacher and guide through the whole process since her collaborators had no experience with American-style architecture.
3. Each home was preloaded with antiques and knickknacks so they would feel worn-in. Hardwood floors were also "pre-engineered to look timeworn with exposed beams and iron light fixtures."
2. Early inspiration for the project came as the project site in China reminded Smith of the low-lying parts of Jackson Hole. She tells Henderson, "Martha's Vineyard, for example, wouldn't have been a good fit."
1. One specific close-clone is the resort's commercial center called Teton Village, which exists in the same name in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. And a spot in China's Teton Village called "Cowboy Bar" most definitely came from Jackson Hole, Wyoming's famous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.
More interior photos of Jackson Hole, China can be found on Smith's website.
· The Clone of My Hometown in China [The Atlantic]
· Re [Architizer]