China To Build An Exact Replica of Picturesque Austrian Village


Original photo: Bossi under a Creative Commons license.

Hallstatt, in Austria, is home to the world's oldest known salt mine, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and hosts up to 800,000 visitors annually. But soon tourists coming from China won't have to go so far to see Hallstatt in all its mountain and lakeside beauty. That's because China is busy building an exact replica of the famous village, reported Der Spiegel.


Photo: Sander Hoogendoorn under a Creative Commons license.

That means that Hallstatt, China, will include every building, statue, and architectural detail of its original Austrian "inspiration." Not to mention the lake and mountains. And while the more glass-half-full types among Hallstatt's 800 residents see the Chinese clone as a potential boon for tourism, others are not so happy. It raises legal issues (can you copy a city and individual buildings?) as well as religious ones (the local priest is unhappy that the church will be exploited for tourism).

Add to that the fact that the project was being carried out in secret- Hallstatt Mayor Alexander Scheutz discovered the plans accidentally- and there are a lot of red flags around the whole thing. And then there's the environmental side of the issue. Not to say that the construction of Hallstatt didn't alter the local geography, but the village did evolve over thousands of years to fit into the landscape the way it does today.

The imposition of such a unique place onto an alien terrain will certainly require dramatic and costly earthworks and construction. Smart, green architecture adapts buildings and cities to local conditions, not local conditions to foreign, famous villages. Throw in the daunting task of shaping a lake, a mountain, and the local eco-system to match the original, and the idea becomes pure folly.

The thought that carbon emissions could be reduced by the project- fewer Chinese tourists flying to Europe- goes out the window when you imagine the impact of building clones of Paris, London, Berlin and everything in between.

But so far, none of the cons are stopping construction of the new Hallstatt, which is already under way in the southern province of Guangdong.

Read more at Die Spiegel
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