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Wancheng Huafu, or Vanland Mansion: one version of the good life

August 12, 2014

konjaku: Of the residential complexes in Wanliu within the school zone for the Zhongguancun #3 Primary School, Wancheng Huafu, a set of villas, or “mansions,” rather than the usual high-rise buildings, is a more high-end, luxury development. The ad campaign, which one can still find at several internet sites, is quite an elaborate fantasy. Many other high-end residential developments in Beijing promote their interiors as in a modern style, but Wancheng Huafu, perhaps because of its proximity to the Summer Palace, was marketed as an evocation of an Imperial past. The series of images created to form this imaginary past can be seen below.

First, Wancheng Huafu in its actual, physical form:

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Most of Wancheng Huafu consists of four story condominium residences (first photo above) but there is apparently a more exclusive section of stand-alone homes, shown here (photo immediately above, and ad brochure, below). A couple return from a trip to their prairie contemporary style home, designed by the global architectural firm Gensler (which has also built a prairie style building on the UC Berkeley campus and homes in Marin County). Servants attend them, the lit up house awaits them. An air of quiet, restraint, and formality. The couple are obviously an image of wealth, but there are also echoes of the CPC in the man’s tailored Mao suit, and the white and red outfits of the attendants.(Click on photos to see more detail)

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A tale of three men, each in one of the three types of formal wear: a Western suit, a Mao suit, and a Tang suit (rear). The man in the Mao suit has undone the collar of the jacket, giving him an informal, but determined air. Perhaps he is the same man as the one emerging from the car in the previous picture. They stare into the future, but “An Imperial Palace” is the backdrop of their lifestyle.

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If there is any doubt who these men are, they are Chairmen of the Board

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A young woman is shown reading  a newspaper (where is her laptop?). A man is taking her picture, the large camera and tripod evoking both formality and the past (this is not a cellphone snapshot). The reason for this elaborately posed portrait is to highlight the setting, “An Imperial Palace,” which now also contains a shiny black leather sofa.

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A  touch of the past in this quiet neighborhood of exclusive, prairie style homes:

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Wancheng Huafu is near the Wanliu Golf Course, the course with a view of the Summer Palace,  which took over part of Liulangzhuang village land.

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Those who live there, view from above, with an Imperial perspective:

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