A passion for pastiche: China’s Potemkin villages

Closely inspect No. 23 Leinster Terrace, Bayswater and you might notice the house has no letter box. Push at the door and you might find it stuck; force your way in and you might find you plummet 40 feet through open space down an obsolete ventilation shaft on to the tracks of the District Line. The house is a fake; a five-storey façade; an architectural trompe l’oeil disguising a disused steam outlet on the London Underground. (Or, as the estate agent might yell down to you, the property combines an airy open-plan design with excellent transport links right on the doorstep.) Flaws notwithstanding, the white stucco frontage — owned and