Studio International

Published 31/08/2006

Thames Town is one of seven satellite communities to become established this year within Shanghai's expanding orbit, which in total will provide for half a million people in new housing. This is a Chinese version of what an 'olde English towne' might look like, not unlike Prince Charles' successful venture at Poundbury Wiltshire in England. Like Poundbury, it was at first a matter of hilarity for all those architects who have seen it. There is a brick Tudor pub, which actually does sell real Ale: a Gothic Church forms a kind of centrepiece, complete with spire (curiously crisp and clean-cut). Nineteenth century Warehouses have been built then rebuilt to simulate historicist converted shopping units. Will Chinese-built Rover cars (newly acquired plant from England) soon be unloading revellers into the restaurants, or be seen parking confidently outside the new apartments? One can now see why Rover was such an appealing acquisition for China, Tennis Courts are already springing up, and Sir John Betjeman would not be dismayed to see an army of racket-bearing Joan Hunter Dunns descending on the Courts. There will be nine Universities, and which old school colours will they adopt from the 'mother' country?