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When Sotheby’s listed a 32-bedroom house in Suzhou last month, it was the property’s price tag that made headlines.
Valued at 1 billion yuan (over $150 million), the 72,000-square-foot estate — nicknamed ‘utopia’ in Mandarin — was heralded as China‘s most expensive home. The story led to familiar commentary about the country’s booming demand for luxury living. But it also represented a subtler trend among the super-rich.
Despite having the trappings of a modern Western mansion, including a pool and wine cellar, the property was unapologetically Chinese in style.
The house’s rock gardens and curved roofs epitomize a historical aesthetic now being replicated — to varying degrees of authenticity — across China’s luxury market.
While high-end buyers overall still prefer Western-style villas and apartments, demand is changing, says Sunny Liu, general manager of property research firm China Index Academy.
“We can see this trend of traditional styles becoming more and more popular in the market, especially in the very top-end of the luxury sector,” he says. “In Beijing, most of the high-value villa products are traditional now.” […]