ultramarinus – beyond the sea

FORMER FRENCH CONCESSION, Shanghai, China

From 1849 to 1943, the area that encompassed today’s Xuhui District and the western part of Huangpu District was under the French control known as the French Concession.  Large number of western buildings survive till today, and has since then become some of the most prestige residential neighborhoods and entertainment areas of contemporary Shanghai.

In the morning, we were to meet our friend near Xintiandi  (新天地).  We arrived a little earlier than planned, thus had a little bit of time to wander around Xintiandi and its nearby alleyways of shikumen (石庫門) residences.  Known as lilongs (里弄), these alleyway communities once dominated the majority of residential neighborhoods in the city.  Shikumen was a common type of terrace houses cladded in brick veneer over combustible timber structures.  In 2001, one of the most famous restored shikumen neighborhood in the Former French Concession opened its doors as a new lifestyle and entertainment destination in Shanghai.  Known as Xintiandi (New World), this adaptive reuse project offered new life to old neighborhoods not only in Shanghai, but also other Chinese cities.

After a short walk in Xintiandi, we met up with our friend.  Our friend took us for a quick detour to the newly built SOHO Fuxing Lu mixuse development to check out a cool lift lobby of a commercial building.  Then our friend led us to one of his favorite noodle soup.  We ordered two bowls of noodles: yellow fish and deep fried pork chops.  After the tasty breakfast, we continued our tour of the Former French Concession.

Next we arrived at Normandie Apartment or Wukang Mansion (武康大樓) at Wukang Road, a French Renaissance style building at a street corner similar to New York’s Flatiron Building.  Home to many Shanghainese celebrities, Normandie Apartment was designed by Hungarian-Slovak architect László Hudec, a renowned architect who lived in Shanghai from 1918 to 1945.  Inspired by the WWI battleship Normandie, the architectural form of the building resembles a ship.  The project was completed in 1924.

We continued our walk along Wukang Road to Ferguson Lane, an upscale leisure destination with shops, cafes, restaurants and galleries along alleyways and courtyards flanked by Art Deco buildings.  A long queue was lining up for what looked like a decent restaurant for bunch.  Equally popular was the French bakery where an irresistible smell of bread spread allover the leafy courtyards of Ferguson Lane.

DSC_1427Our morning stroll in the lilong alleyways near Xintiandi.

DSC_1446It was early morning when we arrived at Xintiandi.  Most stores had yet to open their doors.  We loved the tranquility of the street. The leafless trees along both sides of the road blended harmoniously with the building facades.

DSC_1449Beautiful shikumen building facades along the street at Xintiandi.

DSC_1453Gelato shop at Shanghai Xintiandi.

DSC_1468The peaceful and delightful mood blanketed the entire Xintiandi in the morning, before the arrival of tour groups.

DSC_1472Some buildings in Xintiandi serve as backdrop for tourist photos.

DSC_1474Outdoor seating at Xintiandi.

DSC_1480Our friend took us to a newly built office building at SOHO Fuxing Lu near Xintiandi to check out a cyber looking lift lobby design which has been published in design magazines.

DSC_1484An entrance court of SOHO Fuxing Lu designed by GMP Architekten.

DSC_1489Our tasty breakfast: yellow fish noodles and fried pork chop noodles.

DSC_1490Humble entrance of “Great Times” Noodle House.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe 8-storey Normandie Apartment reminded us of New York’s Flatiron Building.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe curve corner of Normandie Apartment.

DSC_1503Normandie Apartment or Wukang Mansion (in Chinese) once represented a prestige address in the city.

DSC_1501The veranda at Wukang Mansion is one of the oldest in Shanghai.

DSC_1521Signage at the main entance of Ferguson Lane revealed its Art Deco past.

DSC_1524Ferguson Lane, a warm and relaxing destination for anyone who seeks for a tranquil place to chill out.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInteresting bronze statue riding a bike captured many’s attention.

DSC_1541Western buildings could be found everywhere on Wukang Road.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother interesting building at the intersection of Wukang Road and Hunan Road.

DSC_1555Once again we felt like as if we were traveling in Europe.

 

***

Read other posts on Shanghai 2016:
0.0 SHANGHAI, 2016
1.0 SUZHOU MUSEUM, Suzhou, China
2.0 HUMBLE ADMINISTRATOR’S GARDEN, Suzhou, China
3.0 LION GROVE GARDEN, Suzhou, China
4.0 SOUP DUMPLINGS AND MORNING STROLL, Shanghai, China
5.0 ROCKBUND, Shanghai, China
6.0 M50, Shanghai, China
7.0 1933 SHANGHAI (老場坊) , Shanghai, China
8.0 POLY GRAND THEATRE (上海保利大劇院), Shanghai, China
9.0 FORMER FRENCH CONCESSION, Shanghai, China
10.0 POWER STATION OF ART, Shanghai, China
11.0 LONG MUSEUM (龍美術館), West Bund, Shanghai, China
12.0 THE BUND (外灘) AT NIGHT, Shanghai, China
13.0 TIANZIFANG (田子坊), Shanghai, China
14.0 CHINESE HAND PRINTED BLUE NANKEEN GALLERY (藍印花布博物館), Shanghai, China
15.0 LUJIAZUI (陸家嘴) OF PUDONG (浦東), Shanghai, China

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