[photopress:ThamesTown_1.jpg,full,alignright]The idea that a new residential district near Shanghai has been modelled on Lyme Regis raises some eyebrows. The first thought is: why would you bother?
Thames Town is located beside the river banks of Songjiang. The development is a replica of a several English towns, with Georgian and Victorian-style terraces, a neo-Gothic church and even a bronze statue of Winston Churchill.
In Lyme Regis, Gail Caddy is the owner of the Rock Point Inn and Cobb Fish Gate — similar establishments in Thames Town — believes her properties had been copied.
She has written to the architects of the Shanghai development. She said: ‘Everything is exactly the same, there is no difference at all and I would just like an explanation as to how it has all happened.’
James Ho, director of Shanghai Henghe Real Estate, the main developer, said: ‘There must be some reason why these buildings have existed for hundreds of years, so we will imitate or copy, we will not make any changes.’
The main firm behind Thames Town, Atkins Shanghai, said its architects took principal examples from various locations across England for the Shanghai development.
Can architecture, especially centuries old architecture, be copyrighted?
Architectural works became subject to copyright protection on December 1, 1990. Copyright law defines ‘architectural work’ as ‘the design of a building embodied in any tangible medium of expression, including a building, architectural plans, or drawings.’ Copyright protection extends to any architectural work created on or after December 1, 1990.
Thus if we are talking about Lyme Regis the possibility of any copyright existing in any way seems extremely remote.