Architectural Piracy “Could Be Quite Exciting” (Updated)

Architect Zaha Hadid has become a star in China with her designs for the Guangzhou Opera House and the recently opened Galaxy SOHO complex in Beijing. A side effect of this success, Kevin Holden Platt reports at Spiegel Online, is that another Hadid project underway in Beijing is now racing to beat a pirated copy in Chongqing to completion:

[…] You Yunting, a Shanghai-based lawyer who founded an online journal covering intellectual property issues, said China’s copyright law includes protection for works of architecture. You said he has studied the copying of the Hadid project, and added: “The two versions of the complex are quite similar.”

“SOHO could have a good chance of winning litigation in this case,” he predicted. “But even if the judge rules in favor of SOHO, the court will not force the defendant to pull the building down. But it could order the payment of compensation.”

[…] Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, who designed Beijing’s surreal, next-generation CCTV tower, has stated the super-speed expansion of Chinese cities is producing architects who use laptops to quickly cut and paste buildings into existence. Koolhaas, in the book “Mutations,” calls these architects Photoshop designers: “Photoshop allows us to make collages of photographs — (and) this is the essence of (China’s) architectural and urban production…. Design today becomes as easy as Photoshop, even on the scale of a city.”

[…] Zaha Hadid said she has a philosophical stance on the replication of her designs: If future generations of these cloned buildings display innovative mutations, “that could be quite exciting.”

See images of the two projects and Hadid’s other work at Spiegel Online.

Update: McGill University architecture professor Avi Friedman discussed the case and its context at PRI’s The World (via Graham Webster):

January 3, 2013 8:46 PM
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