“Exporting the McMansion” to China

A principal in an American architecture firm discusses the McMansions his company has designed in China:

Market researchers in China say that these buyers prefer styles (derived from) the old houses in France and England. The people feel that the styles of the English and French are more “wealthy looking” than Spanish or Mediterranean styles. Think of “Downton Abbey” or Fontainebleau. Those are perceived as the homes of royalty. Homes in Spain or Italy, they perceive those homes as more casual…

The villa houses we’re building are generally 3,500 square feet to 7,000 square feet, and that excludes the basement, which isn’t usually included in the salable square footage…Some of these homes are being purchased by investors and some of them will be second homes. Lagoon Manor, for example, is a 600-unit development we’re doing that’s in the northeast part of Beijing, though from the heart of the city it’s about an hour-and-a-half drive because of the traffic…

The homes are of concrete construction. Even the roof pitches are concrete panels — there’s almost no wood in the construction.

The interiors are built to a European construction model. You buy the shell and finish the interior yourself. The outsides of the homes are completely finished, but you open the front door and it’s a light bulb.

This discussion suggests there are some similarities between American and Chinese McMansions. They are purchased by people who want to show wealth and the architecture is intended to connect the style of the new home to established “high-class” styles. The homes are quite large and expensive. However, they are constructed differently: it is more of a concrete shell that the buyer can then customize in pieces (IKEA is mentioned). While the discussion doesn’t mention this, I assume these homes are less common in China than the United States and so are still more unusual.

Indeed, it would be interesting to see what remains the same and what changes and why when the American McMansion becomes another global export.

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