What is the point of rebuilding an entire Swiss city from scratch – in China? This is the basic premise of the latest cartoon by Matthias Gnehm, a Swiss architect turned cartoonist.
The story follows Zürich based architect Leo Lander who leaves his family to go on a trip to Kunming, China. He is there to reconnect with his mentor, Hans Romer. Now a successful architect in the Chinese city of Kunming, this man has done the unthinkable: He has recreated Switzerland’s largest city and is pitching it to investors as “New Zurich” (Neu-Zürich).
The local competition is not sleeping, however. In order to sabotage a sleazy German competitor, Romer enlists newly arrived Lander for a deal he cannot refuse… Is the protagonist going to make it in Neu-Zürich, China? Or is he going to return to his family in Zürich, Switzerland?
It is a story about piracy, about a replica’s value, about globalized architecture, and finally about greed. “Die kopierte Stadt” is carefully hand drawn in pastel color, which gives it a unique tone of voice. The more than 300 images are detailed where needed, expressive and often reduced to the max.
Thanks to the gripping storyline, this cartoon can initially be read in one session. It is a beautiful book that will please any architect, artist, cartoon lover or Zürcher (or all of the above, as is the case with the author).
Edition Hochparterre, German/some English, 64 pages