Facts About the Many Styles of Architecture to Be Found Within Shanghai
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Facts About the Many Styles of Architecture to Be Found Within Shanghai

The world’s largest city of Shanghai has several styles of architecture ranging from the Art Deco of the boom in the city during the 1920’s and 30’s, traditional Chinese styled buildings up to the modern city’s skyscrapers that rise high into the sky of this most cosmopolitan of the city’s of the Far East.

The Bund, the famous area close to the Huangpu River that dissects the city has several examples of early 20th century neoclassical architecture including the HSBC Building and the Sassoon House built in the Art Deco style that was popular at that time. The areas of the city once governed by the foreign concessions have several examples of well preserved buildings, the most notable of these can be found in the French Concession.

Laszlo Hudec was a Hungarian-Slovak architect that made Shanghai his home from 1918 until 1947. He was responsible for many of the Art Deco buildings to adorn the city. Shanghai has the highest number of buildings anywhere in the world of this style, constructed during the 1920’s and 30’s. Among the most notable of Hudec’s buildings are the Grand Theatre and the Park Hotel.

The Peace Hotel, the Metropole and Broadway Mansions are all creations of Parker and Palmer, prominent architects of that era. Another notable building constructed in the Art Deco style in the city was the Capital Theatre; this was designed by the Austrian architect GH Gonda. The recent revitalization of the area around The Bund began in 1986, it was the creation of Paulus Snoeren, a Dutch architect with this project continuing until the middle of the final decade of the 20th century.

Despite the rampant redevelopment of the city, particularly in the recent decades the old city still retains many buildings built in the traditional style of Chinese architecture. A good example of this can be found in Yuyuan Garden, recently renovated the original buildings and garden are of the Jiangnan style of Chinese architecture and represent some of the oldest streets of the city. In the Xintiandi district of the city there are a number of traditional Shikumen lanes that have seen renovation projects and now are home to high end restaurants and stores.

In addition to its distinctive traditional buildings, Shanghai is also home to a collection of eccentric buildings of contemporary architecture. These include the Shanghai Museum, the Grand Theatre as well as the Oriental Art Centre.

Shanghai has its own unique style of townhouses known as Shikumen, these are two or three storey residences built behind a high brick wall. Each row of townhouses is accessed by straight alleys known as longtang or longdang in the local dialect. The entrance to each townhouse is through an archway constructed of stone and the row of houses is similar to terrace houses seen in many residential areas particularly in the United Kingdom.

The city also has many examples of buildings displaying the Soviet Neoclassical style of architecture. The buildings of this style date mostly from 1949 with the emergence of the People’s Republic of China until the late 1960’s and the split in Sino-Soviet relations. During the decade of Soviet influence many experts were drafted into China to aid the process into Communism. Shanghai’s International Exhibition Centre is one of the finest examples of this style to be found within the city.

In the district of Pudong are many of the city’s tallest buildings. These skyscrapers include the Jin Mao Tower as well as the 492 metre high Shanghai World Financial Centre, the tallest building in mainland China and currently third highest in the world. Nearby is the Oriental Pearl Tower at a height of 468 metres. Shanghai has the highest number of buildings of greater height than 400 metres than anywhere else in the world. The Shanghai Tower, due to be completed in 2014, will rise to a height of 632 metres or 2074 feet and will then be the tallest building within China.

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Comments (5)

The architecture in different places is very interesting.  I enjoyed this.

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Very well presented educational article. Thanks, John.

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