As China’s economy continues to grow, so do the number of rich looking to purchase “McMansions” and chateau-style estates. These high-priced cookie-cutter mansions are gaining such popularity that gated communities, a staple of the Western world, are popping up in suburbs across China.
While such European-style homes were once seen mainly in Qingdao, Shanghai and other cities with similar foreign influence, the movement today is a reflection of change in Chinese lifestyle. McMansions and villas are about showing one’s upper class status and displaying the lavish fruits of privileged life.
The A Kai Di Ya Villa community, located only an hour outside of Beijing, is a blend of Spanish, Italian and French-style manors. Built only three years ago, the neighborhood reached full capacity in October.
Bianca Bosker, author of Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China, told Financial Times that she attributes the recent architectural trend to Chinese interest in European style.“Chinese homeowners have embraced these European-style homes as a way to showcase their worldliness and success. The baroque, Tudor and beaux-arts styles have become the architectural equivalent of a Chanel logo on a purse.”
Mansions in the suburbs of Beijing or Shanghai are going for millions of dollars, and feature pools, spas, movie theaters, swanky dining rooms, and maid quarters for live in housekeepers. One much coveted facet has been the traditional Chinese courtyard, one of the few remaining Asian influences.
Part of the appeal of such houses isn’t just the European architecture, but the all-encompassing Western lifestyle. The community in Beijing is a prime example. The villas align on cobbled streets with man-made lakes and hills. The A Kai Di Ya Villa community also has a clubhouse with entertainment rooms, karaoke, sofas, and an attentive staff. All of the rooms are named after different Italian cities and their styles are reflective of their namesake region.
The Western ideal that these neighborhoods seem to mime also extends outside the walls of their gated compounds. Residents are flocking to such locales for their international schools, golf courses, and other suburban amenities.
Though European villas are maintaining their popularity in suburbs outside of cities like Beijing and Shanghai, they haven’t seen national success quite yet. Due to government restrictions on the development of new gated communities, villas remain an exclusive and high-demand commodity.
image credit: axel drainville