Mini Shanghai

I remember my first model village. It was at Hornsea Pottery on a family day out and I was spellbound. There was a flight simulator too, but somehow that paled in comparison with all the houses, churches and local landmarks lovingly rendered in miniature form. Then there was an old issue of Vogue in the vintage shop I used to work in, which featured possibly the best photo shoot I’ve ever seen. Models in a model village; neon glamorous giants terrorising the plastic populace.

Recently I dragged a couple of my friends along to the Urban Planning Exhibition Center in Shanghai; several floors full of miniature versions of the city in which I live. It documents Shanghai’s architectural history and reveals what it will look like in the future, showcasing urban planning and development.

There is quite possibly no model village anywhere to top Window on China, near Taoyuan, Taiwan, which I visited in 2008. Again there were rides attempting to distract – a huge log flume and an Egyptian-themed area, as well as plenty of unappetising restaurants selling something which looked like reconstituted space food. Never has there been a better reason to eat ice cream for lunch.

But I digress. The models themselves were epic, inasmuch as a miniature object can be. The Great Wall of China was ironically depicted in gloriously diminutive form, while everything from famous palaces to a radioactive factory were immortalised behind tiny fences. The industrial was not overshadowed by the traditionally beautiful, as a group of colourful storage containers waited on the docks of a river (er… stream). The palaces and other majestic buildings were truly impressive though. I recently missed out on going to Window on the World in Shenzhen, which is a similar idea. I was in the area for work but had no spare time to visit. Ah well, one day…

It’s not easy to explain the appeal of model villages. I mean, they’re just things that exist in real life only made really, really small. And yet somehow they’re fantastically fun places to visit and the workmanship involved is staggering. I am seriously considering taking a tip from Vogue and conducting my own photo shoot with friends.

Here are some of the mini versions of Shanghai from the Exhibition Center.

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  1. […] I must admit I actually liked. Perhaps unsurprising given my love of miniature things – see Mini Shanghai. GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

  2. […] to see quite a big range of art. I loved the dolls’ house (unsurprisingly, given my love of miniature things) and since returning to the UK I’ve discovered that The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton was […]



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