Great Eclectic Architectures in Shanghai-Shanghai Tours
Posted Oct 24 2013 2:37am
For all of Shanghai's exalted status as China's economic China tours powerhouse, it has another claim to fame, and that is as a museum of architecture, albeit of the Western variety. Shanghai's history as a treaty port has led to it today comprising one of the richest collections of British colonial, Victorian, neoclassical, and Art Deco buildings anywhere in the world.The first three styles were common during the 19th century, and can be seen in many of the buildings in the old British-dominated, business-oriented International Settlement (which ran north of today's Yan'an Lu into part of Hongkou, and extended west from the Bund), with one of the finest examples being the neoclassical former Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank on the Bund.
The frenzy to tear down old buildings was especially acute in the final days of the 20th century, as the Shanghai government rushed to modernize and build skyscrapers and malls, but heedless destruction has since stopped. The government realized that Yangtze River cruises conservation, restoration, and redevelopment of old properties has a significant commercial upside, and that modern-day visitors seem to like nothing more than to recapture a flavor of old Shanghai in restored projects like Xintiandi and some of the converted buildings on the Bund, and that expatriates will pay top dollar to stay in refurbished old houses and apartments. Unfortunately, the quality of preservation of old buildings has been uneven.
Overall, the future of architecture in Shanghai looks bright. As China has opened its doors to foreign architects in the building boom of the last 15 years (for example, American architect Ben Wood is responsible for designing both the Xintiandi Shanghai travel guide complex as well as the new Waitanyuan project behind the Bund), Shanghai has been the beneficiary of some sublime pieces of modern architecture, such as the Jin Mao Tower, which has since been bested in height by the less interesting but taller Shanghai World Financial Center.
The Shanghai Grand Theatre, the Shanghai Oriental Art Center, and Tomorrow Square (Mintian Guangchang) housing the JW Marriott Hotel are some other attractive modern buildings. Architecture was also the star at the recent 2010 World Expo which featured many innovative and creative designs in the various country and theme pavilions. A crowd favorite was the cube-shaped "Seed Cathedral" UK Pavilion, looking like a dandelion but made of 60,000 acrylic rods containing seeds from around the world. Unfortunately, the majority of pavilions are to be torn down at the end of the Expo, with only five structures to be retained, including the prominent Chinese Pavilion China educational tours looking like an Oriental crown, and the 1km-long (2/3-mile) Expo Axis.