Shanghai’s European Suburbs

Chinese urban planners are building new towns with a foreign flair, each mimicking architecture from Europe’s storied cities

(Rémi Ferrand)

Thames Town

Thames Town Winston Churchill and panda statue
(Tong Lam)

A statue of a panda shares space in an empty public square with a statue of Winston Churchill. “You’d never guess that anyone expected it to be a livable community,” said Sara Farina, an expat living near Thames Town.

The town also boasts a fish and chip shop copied from one in Lyme Regis, Dorset, UK; the owner of the original told the Daily Telegraph that “We are the only fish and chip shop next to a pub on a river mouth in England. And they have given it the same front and back, in an identical position but on the mouth of the Yangtse.” The developers replied that there was no law in China forbidding imitating a building, and besides, a nearby suburb had just built a replica of the White House.

Thames Town, which despite being so far away from downtown Shanghai that the few residents here are all academics working at the nearby universities, is ranked third on a “hot places to hang out” list on, a Chinese rating site similar to Yelp.


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