In 2010, AN wrote about an identity theft scandal involving some high profile British architects and Chinese impostors leaving some observers at the time to wonder if starchitects like Norman Foster or Zaha Hadid might be next. It now appears the archi-pirates have indeed set their eyes on Hadid’s curvaceous designs, setting of a construction race to see whether the copy-cat can outbuild the original and an international debate about intellectual property. Spiegel reported that Hadid’s Wangjing SOHO tower complex, proposed in 2011 for Beijing and now under construction, has been copied and rebranded as the Meiquan 22nd Century in Chongqing. When placed side by side (above), it’s tough not to see the distinct resemblance.
The developer of the Hadid complex told Spiegel that the clone-towers in the south of China are progressing with construction at a faster rate than the SOHO project, and could even be completed before Hadid’s original, noting that even if his company prevailed in court, the offending building would likely only face a financial penalty.
Satoshi Ohashi, the project architect at Zaha Hadid Architects, went as far as to tell the German publication, “It is possible that the Chongqing pirates got hold of some digital files or renderings of the project.” Many are not surprised that in an age of Photoshop and digital drawing, entire architectural projects are being copied, including architects at Hadid’s firm. While upset at the direct copy, Zaha herself expressed “excitement” at the idea her projects could spur mutations.