ultramarinus – beyond the sea

China: Shanghai 2016

LUJIAZUI (陸家嘴) OF PUDONG (浦東), Shanghai, China

East of Huangpu River across from the historic city centre of the Bund, Pudong (literally means the east bank of Huangpu) has been Shanghai’s new ground for contemporary developments in recent two decades, including the city’s international airport Pudong International Airport (opened in 1999) and Shanghai’s financial district Lujiazui.  Many of Shanghai’s iconic skyscrapers from the past two decades, which include Oriental Pearl Tower, Jin Mao Building, Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai IFC, and the tallest of them all – Shanghai Tower, stand proudly at Lujiazui, directly across Huangpu River from the Bund, its historic predecessor.  One tower after another tested the vertical limit of modern architecture.  The development of Lujiazui reflects the ambition and pace of the contemporary development of the Chinese society.

Before heading to the airport, we dropped by Lujiazui of Pudong District one last time.  At Lujiazui, we intended to visit the Aurora Art Museum, a gallery designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando.  Unfortunately not until we reached the door, we realized that the museum was closed on Monday.  We ended up spending time wandering around the financial area to check out the latest skyscrapers.  The main focus in the area was undoubtedly Shanghai Tower (上海中心大厦).  Construction was completed but Shanghai Tower had not opened its doors to the public yet.  We could only walk around the 632m tower, the tallest in China, from outside.  While admiring the twisting gesture and double skin facade system of Shanghai Tower, we could not ignore the two other super highrise towers of Lujiazui: Jin Mao Tower (金茂大廈) and Shanghai World Financial Center (上海環球金融中心).  Before leaving Lujiazui for the airport, we had a quick tea break at a chain restaurant for a last taste of Shanghaiese food.  We then took the metro to Longyang Road station and switched to the maglev airport express.  Reaching a speed of about 430km/h, the magnetic levitation train ride to the airport took less than ten minutes.  Our 4-day experience was coming to an end as we sped through the suburbs of Shanghai before our evening flight back to Hong Kong.

DSC_1712The three super-tall skyscrapers of Shanghai: (left) Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai World Financial Centre (centre), and Shanghai Tower (right).

DSC_1678_01The central atrium of Grand Hyatt Hotel at the 54th floor of Jin Mao Tower.

DSC_1690View of Putong and the Bund from the 54th floor of Jin Mao Tower.

DSC_1697Shanghai Tower as viewed from Jin Mao Tower.

DSC_1699Shanghai Tower as viewed from Jin Mao Tower.

DSC_2572Shanghai Tower, Jin Mao Tower and Shanghai World Financial Tower viewed from a footbridge near Lujiazui metro station.

DSC_2586The three super tall skyscrapers of Shanghai are all designed by American architects: Shanghai World Financial Tower by KPF, Jin Mao Tower by SOM, and Shanghai Tower by Gensler.

DSC_2605Oriental Pearl Tower (東方明珠塔) viewed from a footbridge near Lujiazui metro station.

DSC_2616The twin towers of Shanghai IFC with the Shanghai Tower in the middle.

DSC_2622Shanghai Tower, Jin Mao Tower and Shanghai World Financial Tower viewed from a footbridge near Lujiazui metro station.

DSC_2632The rest of the commercial buildings at Lujiazui were dwarfed by the three tallest towers.

DSC_2650Extensive footbridges connect a number of commercial developments in Lujiazui.

DSC_2633One last look at the three towers before we headed for the airport.

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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


CHINESE HAND PRINTED BLUE NANKEEN GALLERY (藍印花布博物館), Shanghai, China

Originated from the nearby provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guizhou, the hand making of blue nankeen cotton fabric have been a local heritage for centuries.  Dyed in indigo and finished with white traditional patterns, the traditional blue nankeen fabrics have caught the eyes of many people, including Japanese artist Kubo Mase (久保麻紗).  Kubo Mase was a prominent collector of blue nankeen fabrics, dyeing tools, handlooms, and many other blue nankeen related tools collected from the rural areas across Southern China since 1950s.  Kubo Mase founded the Chinese Hand Printed Blue Nankeen Gallery in a small courtyard at Changle Road Lane 637.  It houses many of her collections, and also hosts a small shop selling hand printed blue nankeen fabrics.

Before leaving Shanghai, we were keen to drop by the Chinese Hand Printed Blue Nankeen Gallery to know more about the traditional indigo cotton.  Following the sign from the main road, we found our way through small lanes and courtyards until reaching the gallery forecourt where a few rows of indigo fabrics were hung.  In an old two-storey house, Kubo Mase’s collection and a small shop of a variety of blue nankeen products made up the off-the-beaten-track attraction for anyone who is interested in cultural heritage and beautiful handcrafts.  In a nation where modernization is rapidly wiping out authentic heritage, historical neighborhoods, and rural culture, the gallery appears like a peaceful oasis where the old ways of blue nankeen making is quietly preserved.

DSC_2539Entrance into the gallery forecourt.

DSC_2533Blue nankeen fabric hanging in the forecourt of the gallery.

DSC_2537Blue nankeen fabric hanging in the forecourt of the gallery.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore blue nankeen fabric hanging on the second floor of the gallery building.

DSC_2542Inside the gallery building, many blue nankeen fabrics were framed and displayed all over.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA With nice wooden floor and nostalgic pendant lamps, the gallery interior was an atmospheric old mansion.

DSC_2545On the second level, a traditional handloom was on display.

DSC_2551The Koinobori (Japanese carp flag) inspired print was also on display among the traditional blue nankeen fabrics.

DSC_2558Detailed patterns of a traditional blue nankeen fabric.

DSC_2560Detailed patterns of a traditional blue nankeen fabric.

DSC_2562Second floor exhibition hall showcasing dyeing tools in the glass display counters.

DSC_2567Traditional clothing made with the blue nankeen fabric.

DSC_2570A hallway marked by neat archways was also used to display blue nankeen fabrics.

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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


TIANZIFANG (田子坊), Shanghai, China

Hidden in a series of alleyways of traditional townhouses known as Shikumen (石庫門), an interesting area popular with artists and young people has become a major tourist attraction in the former French Concession of Shanghai.  Known as Tianzifang (田子坊) since artist Huang Yongyu (黃永玉) named the area after an ancient painter Tianzifang (田子方) in 2001, Tianzifang has become a vibrant location for young people and artists.  Many of the traditional Shikumen houses were restored during 2000s and converted into craft shops, cafes, bars, souvenir stores, etc.  Taken quite a distinct approach towards preservation than the nearby Xintiandi (新天地), Tianzifang maintains a relatively low-key and community feel.  Electrical cables were hanging all over, while weathered bricks and decades old windows could be commonly seen.

We spent much of the last morning of our Shanghai trip wandering in the alleyways of Tianzifang to absorb the lay-back and creative atmosphere.  We did quite a bit of window shopping.  At the end, we stopped by Cafe Dan for coffee and soba.  Owned by a Japanese, Cafe Dan is a lovely small cafe serving excellent Japanese food and great coffee from around the world.  Up a flight of narrow wooden stair, the dining area of Cafe Dan on the upper levels felt like a peaceful oasis above the bustling activities of tourists and visitors of Tianzifang.  Sitting by the wooden window screen, we had some moments of tranquility under the warm sunlight, while the aroma of our filtered coffee gradually filled the cafe interior.

DSC_2528We reached Tianzifang through one of these alley entrance on Taikang Road.

DSC_2384One of the alley gateway into Tianzifang.

DSC_2383Statue of the ancient painter Tianzifang from the Warring State Period (481 to 403 BC).

DSC_2311Hand-drawn 3D map of Tianzifang.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlleyway in Tianzifang.  Some shops were at the upper level of the old houses, accessible by narrow stairway from the ground level.

DSC_2317Much of the old houses in Tianzifang were transformed into cafes, restaurants and shops.

DSC_2303This shop is dedicated to Teddy bears.

DSC_2322Pedestrian nodes such as a small courtyard could be found at a number of places.

DSC_2333Colourful or kitsch souvenirs selling the Chinese culture could be found all over.

DSC_2352A shop selling traditional and bespoke clothing.

DSC_2386Statue dressed like a red army during the Cultural Revolution in front of a second-hand camera shop.

DSC_2419Interesting murals contribute to the community feel of Tianzifang.

DSC_2320Alleyway in front of Cafe Dan.

DSC_2519Entrance of Cafe Dan.

DSC_2459Interior of the upper level of Cafe Dan.

DSC_2464Delicious Japanese soba at Cafe Dan.

DSC_2481My cup of coffee was brewed with beans from the Galapagos.

DSC_2511The alternating tread wooden staircase at Cafe Dan was an interesting feature.

DSC_2521Heading out of Tianzifang to find our way to our next destination of the day, the small Blue Nankeen Museum.

 

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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


THE BUND (外灘) AT NIGHT, Shanghai, China

After another long day touring the city, our friend took us to a rooftop bar at Three on the Bund for evening drinks in front of the magnificent night view of Putong (浦東).  Nowhere else is more iconic in Shanghai than the Bund, the historical commercial centre of the former International Settlement by the Huangpu River (黃浦江).  All tourists who come to Shanghai visit the Bund at least once during their stay, on one hand to admire the historical Beaux-art buildings along the Bund, and on the other hand enjoy the glittering lights from the ever-changing skyline of Lujiazui (陸家嘴) skyscrapers across Huangpu River.  Thirteen years ago when we first visited Shanghai, many skyscrapers in Putong had yet been built.  Back then, Oriental Pearl Tower and Jin Mao Tower were the two structures that stood out from the horizon.  Standing at the roof patio of POP Bar on the 7th floor at Three on the Bund, the vivid lights from the cluster of commercial towers across the river tinted the water in rainbow colours.  We had a great time chilling out under what my friend described as a clear sky with relatively little pollution according to the standards of Shanghai.

 

DSC_2251Skyline of Lujiazui viewed from the promenade along the Bund.

DSC_2255Old skyline of the Bund at night.

DSC_2256Old skyline of the Bund at night.

DSC_2261Old skyline of the Bund at night.

DSC_2262Old skyline of the Bund at night.

DSC_2267Old skyline of the Bund at night.

DSC_2269Old skyline of the Bund at night.

DSC_2293POP Bar on the 7th floor of Three on the Bund, the historical Union Assurance Company has been restored by architect Michael Graves in the 2000’s .

DSC_2296Colourful cocktails at the POP Bar on the 7th floor of Three on the Bund.

DSC_2291View of Lujiazui from POP Bar.

DSC_0633Interior of the Peace Hotel (和平飯店), one of the most famous hotels in the old Shanghai.

DSC_0634Interior of Peace Hotel.

DSC_0639Interior of Peace Hotel.

DSC_0641Interior of Peace Hotel.

DSC_0644Elegant entrance of Peace Hotel.

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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


LONG MUSEUM (龍美術館), West Bund, Shanghai, China

Before our trip, a number of people recommended the Long Museum to us.  Designed by a focal firm Atelier Deshaus, the Long Museum is a fine piece of contemporary architecture that has been featured in many design magazines.  Despite our tight schedule in Shanghai, we managed to squeeze in two hours to visit this contemporary art museum at the West Bund of Xuhui.  The riverside promenade of Xuhui district hosts a number of cultural establishments like the Long Museum, and also occasional art events such as the West Bund Biennale of Architecture and Contemporary Art.  Along with upcoming developments such as the movie production and entertainment complex – Dream Centre, the once industrial area West Bund of Xuhui is gradually transforming into a lively cultural corridor by the Huangpu River.  The privately-owned art museum near the former Expo ground stands as a proud revelation of Shanghai’s ambitions to boost the local contemporary art scenes.

We arrived at Long Museum in the mid afternoon.  Dozens or so visitors were busy photographing the cherry blossoms in front of the museum.  Others were having fun taking seflies against the backdrop of a well preserved industrial structures, which has now become a significant feature outside the museum.  At the museum’s rear side facing the riverside promenade, locals were enjoying themselves playing badminton and skateboards.  We entered the museum through its main entrance at the side.  Once inside, we were immediately captivated by the high vaulted space of the main exhibition hall.  There is not a single white wall in the museum.  With high volume spaces and half-vaulted ceiling, the museum is like a minimalist concrete cathedral, offering visitors diverse spatial experience, and a sleek atmosphere and backdrop for showcasing contemporary art.

Exhibited in galleries and a number of international biennale around the globe, Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson is a prominent figure in the art world.  Eliasson creates interesting art installations that often engage spectators through the use of basic elements like water, light or shadows.  We were delighted to see Eliasson’s solo show at the Long Museum.  Playful reflections, shadows, and lighting effects of his pieces did a fine job engaging spectators in multiple ways.  We spent about two hours seeing Eliasson’s exhibition until the museum was about to close its doors.  After the visit, we strolled along the riverside promenade to take in the relax atmosphere.

DSC_1718 Visitors gathered in front of Long Museum to photograph the fine cherry blossoms.

DSC_1725Concrete structure from an old factory is preserved as an exterior feature of Long Museum.

DSC_1764The old structure becomes a local favorite for portrait photography.

DSC_1799The old industrial structure create a beautiful scene of shadows and textures.

DSC_1809Visitors walking beyond the old industrial structure.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA visitor and dramatic sunlight casting onto the vaulted concrete wall.

DSC_2097Main exhibition space of Long Museum.

DSC_2092Olafur Eliasson’s installation art took over every wall and corner of Long Museum.

DSC_2079Spectators having fun with their own reflection at one of Eliasson’s piece.

DSC_2062Mirrors are used in many of Eliasson’s pieces.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA sphere that allows visitors to enter is a popular piece.

DSC_1858Moving shadows and interesting reflections was a result from lighting effect and a suspended ring.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAElegant shadows of an abstract installation.

DSC_1917Visitor and the semi-vaulted ceiling.

DSC_1942Visitors queuing for a glimpse of their own reflection at one of Eliasson’s piece.

DSC_1955A mother photographing her daughter from the other end of the piece.

DSC_1952A room with alternating lighting that changed the hues of wall decorations from black and white to rainbow colours.

DSC_2125The passageway between the old industrial structure and the museum facade made of pour concrete and expanded metal.

DSC_2131Locals having a good time with badminton and skateboards at the back of Long Museum.

DSC_2175The riverside promenade behind Long Museum links the museum with other cultural establishments at the West Bund of Xuhui.

 

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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


POWER STATION OF ART, Shanghai, China

After a morning of the former French Concession, a short taxi ride took us to the former Expo ground by the Huangpu River for an entirely different side of Shanghai.  Opened in 2012, Power Station of Art is China’s first state run contemporary art museum.  Like London’s Tate Modern, the 440,000 sq.ft art museum is housed in a former power station.  We spent about two hours at the art museum.

Upon arrival at the grand hall on the ground floor, we were immediately astounded by the gigantic piece of installation art that involved a life-size train carriage and a number of mounted animals.  The piece belongs to French-Chinese artist Huang Yongping (黄永砯) as the centerpiece of his exhibition, Baton Serpent III: Spur Track to the Left.  On the upper floors, through a retrospective exhibition marking his 60th birthday, we got to know about the magnificent works and tragic life of Datong Dazhang, a Chinese artist from Shanxi Province active in the 1980s and 90s, and eventually committed suicide in the year 2000.  With vivid posters, drawings and videos illustrating renowned architect Bernard Tschumi’s design philosophies, we spent a brief time full of architectural thoughts at Tschumi’s exhibition, Architecture: Concept & Notation.  The last thing we saw before leaving the museum was In the Name of Architecture, a design exhibition by Atelier FCJZ encompassing the studio’s ideas on architecture, fashion, lifestyle, and graphic design.

DSC_1561Built in 1985, the Nanshi Power Station was turned into the Pavilion of Future in 2010’s Shanghai Expo, and subsequently converted into an art museum by Original Design Studio.

DSC_1564Today, the Power Station of Art has become a prominent cultural venue in Shanghai.

DSC_1566The life-size train carriage of Huang Yongping’s Spur Track to the Left.

DSC_1570Huang Yongping’s Spur Track to the Left.

DSC_1582Huang Yongping’s Spur Track to the Left.

DSC_1575Other installation by Huang Yongping’s on the ground floor.

DSC_1577Other installation by Huang Yongping’s on the ground floor.

DSC_1585Other installation by Huang Yongping’s on the ground floor.

DSC_1651Huang Yongping’s Baton Serpent on the second floor.

DSC_1599View of Huang Yongping’s Spur Track to the Left from the third floor.

DSC_1604Huangpu River and the former Expo ground as viewed from the museum’s outdoor terrace.

DSC_1605Outdoor terrace of the Power Station of Art.

DSC_1635Greatly under valued and seen as a social dissident during his lifetime, Shanxi avant-garde artist Datong Dazhang (大同大) lived a harsh life in the 1980s and 90s as an artist who was way ahead of his time.  Entirely self-taught and self initiated, Zhang works ranged from installations, photography, performance art, and drawings.

DSC_1621Datong Dazhang’s Questioning the Weight of Scales.

DSC_1632Datong Dazhang’s The Fear of Math, where pig heads were arranged in an abacus arrangement.

DSC_1634Prohibited from showcasing his art because of political issues, Zhang continued to make art during the 1990s and documented a number of performance arts with zero audience.

DSC_1643Bernard Tschumi’s Architecture: Concept & Notation.

DSC_1653Architectural model at Atelier FCJZ’s In the Name of Architecture.

DSC_1661Cool copper partitions at the entrance of FCJZ’s exhibition on the ground floor.

 

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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


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.

 

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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


POLY GRAND THEATRE (上海保利大劇院), Shanghai, China

Located in Jiading District, a suburb northwest of central Shanghai, Poly Grand Theatre stands proudly by Yuanxiang Lake.  The 330 x 330 x 113 foot theatre box is wrapped in a transparent skin of glass, with tunnels and footbridges puncturing the simple geometry to establish bold visual statements on its elevations.  This simple but striking architecture is one of the newest completed projects by Japanese architect Tadao Ando.

It took us quite some time taking the metro to reach Jiading.  Once arrived at the closest metro station, we hopped on a taxi to reach the theatre.  Situated right by Yuanxiang Lake, the theatre stood out as a centerpiece in the new town among other construction sites and new condominiums.  We took our time to walk around the building, hoping to see the lighting effect after dusk.  It was about 5:30pm when we got there.  After a short tour of the building exterior spaces, we decided to wait on an observation bridge in front of the theatre.  We waited for about an hour until 7pm, then we figured out that the lights might not come on as there didn’t seem to have any performance happening that evening despite it was a Saturday night.  We returned to the theatre entrance and went straight to the brightly lit ticket entrance.  The staff inside confirmed our worry.  Since there was no scheduled performance that night, the lighting effect would not be turned on.

We left the theatre disappointingly.  There was no taxi around.  In fact we could hardly see any passing pedestrians in this new town.  We walked for about half an hour to reach the closest metro station, passing by a few newly constructed shopping centres along the way.  We were tired and hungry.  A big hearty meal would be the only way to console our disappointment.

DSC_1317Poly Grand Theatre was a clean box with cheese-like holes.

DSC_1320A new tower stood right behind the theatre.

DSC_1324The grotto-like space can be served as semi-outdoor performance space.

DSC_1326Base trim of the facade curtain wall.

DSC_1333Elevated bridges and platforms provide an important exterior common space.

DSC_1346Front elevation and reflection of Poly Grand Theatre.

DSC_1367Occasional passerby provided a sense of scale.

DSC_1377Landscape features and observation bridge in front of the theatre.

DSC_1382Walking up the observation bridge.

DSC_1395 1The end of the observation bridge provided a great spot to admire the architecture of the theatre.

DSC_1398Observation bridge at night.

DSC_1410The lighting effect didn’t come on because there was no scheduled performance during our visit.

DSC_1417Street elevation of the theatre.

DSC_1426New shopping centre on our way walking back to the metro station.

 

***

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


1933 SHANGHAI (老場坊) , Shanghai, China

Located in Hongkou District, Shanghai 1933 was our next destination of the day.  After seeing photographs of this magnificent building on the Internet, I longed to visit Shanghai 1933 since months before our trip.  Built in the year 1933, Shanghai 1933 was purposely designed as a livestock slaughterhouse for the city.  It was designed by British architects, and some of the cement material was also imported from England. Throughout the years, the prewar slaughterhouse had been converted to host other functions.  A few years ago this unique building went through a major restoration and has once again gone through another identity transformation.  This time, it has become a hub of shops, restaurants, event spaces and studios for creative industries, a cool new representative of Shanghai’s creative and commercial scene.

The five-storey concrete building is remarkable both aesthetically and functionally.  The complex is comprised of a circular tower at the centre, and a rectangular ring of chambers around it, with open atrium spaces between the two components.  Narrow footbridges and concrete braces connect the two main components, while ramps and stairs link the levels.  Visually, the complex seems like a concrete labyrinth as if a modern realization of Piranesi’s imaginary prison.  Functionally, the former slaughterhouse is an excellent example of the former meat processing system when cattle was brought into the feeding halls at the outer ring and gradually proceeded upwards via the concrete ramps until reaching the high levels.  Then the animals would cross the narrow footbridges into the central circular tower and advanced through the slaughtering process.

After getting off the taxi, we were immediately attracted by the rich architectural articulations on the building facade and columns.  Reminding us of this highly globalized era, we could see the signage of Starbucks before we even entered the building.  Once inside, we wandered around the atrium spaces to take photographs and gradually worked upwards via its ramp network.  We didn’t pay much attention to the shops.  After strolling for a while,  we sat down at a Sichuan noodle shop and had a late lunch.  After the delicious meal, we wandered for another bit, enjoying ourselves with photographing the unique architectural spaces and also other visitors who came to Shanghai 1933 posing for all sorts of photo shoots.

DSC_1037Signage of 1933 Shanghai at the main entrance.

DSC_1045Interesting architectural articulations are visible everywhere, including the columns at the entrance arcade.

DSC_1059Footbridges at different levels of the complex greatly contribute to the labyrinth feel of the experience.

DSC_1062Visitors walked in the ring of atrium space between the circular tower and the rectangular outer chambers (shops).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWalking up the ramp overlooking a series of narrow stairs (probably for working staff back in the old days).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEven the concrete balustrade was created with a sense of organic fluidity.

DSC_1119The round edges of the architecture reminded us of the former streamline slaughtering process.

DSC_1108A narrow bridge linking the circular tower and the outer wing.

DSC_1127A group of children in vivid colours stood out from the monotonous concrete environment.

DSC_1144Watching people enjoying different corners at Shanghai 1933 was delightful.

DSC_1153Watching people enjoying different corners at Shanghai 1933 was delightful.

DSC_1160Some came for their wedding photos.

DSC_1206A few visitors seemed to be models for fashion photography.

DSC_1220Others were simply groups of young people looking for an interesting selfie spot.

DSC_1199We could see either someone was being photographed or someone taking photos of another person almost anywhere at Shanghai 1933.

DSC_1227Looking down from the highest level.

123It was empty inside the circular core tower except some artwork display when we were there.

DSC_1262Footbridges and visitors both provided the most interesting components in any scene of the complex.

DSC_1259Concrete patchworks are visible throughout the complex.

DSC_1270Looking out the main entrance as we exited the complex.

DSC_1282The main facade of Shanghai 1933 as viewed from the canal of Shajing Port.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOther interesting former industrial buildings in the area.

DSC_1290Leaving Shanghai 1933 behind, we found our way to the nearest metro station.

***

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


M50, Shanghai, China

After Rockbund Art Museum, we continued our inspiring art journey to M50.  50 Moganshan Road (M50) is a thriving artist community in Shanghai.  Over a hundred artists and artisans have studios at M50, and many are opened to the public.  M50 art community occupies a number of former factory buildings of Chunming Slub Mill.  By around year 2000, artists started to move into the vacant factory buildings because of the affordable rent.  The area gradually developed into one of the most interesting cultural scene in the city.

From Rockbund, we took a taxi to M50.  We were greeted by a few-storey high tower, cladded in silver aluminum panels, that said M50: Suzhou Creek/ Soho/ Loft.  Once inside the M50 area, we felt like we had entered a factory campus with industrial buildings and alleyways and footbridges linking up various building blocks.  We picked a building to enter to check out the artist studios inside, many of which had works displayed.  It wasn’t crowded but visitors like us could be seen all over.  Neatly designed coffee shops and souvenir/ design shops also mushroomed at M50, aiming at the increasing number of outside visitors and tourists.  We hopped from buildings to buildings and had fun in absorbing the causal and artistic atmosphere of M50.

DSC_0824The silver signage tower of M50 at the entrance.

DSC_1024Once inside, it felt like we had entered an industrial campus, except cool signage and LED video screens.

DSC_1026Posters of artist studios were pin up at the entrance of one of the buildings in M50.

DSC_0829Studios and small galleries lined up along both sides of a building in M50.

DSC_0832Window display of a sculpture studio.

DSC_0836Some galleries focus on paintings with local Chinese themes.

DSC_1020A slab opening seemed causally made to accommodate a red staircase in one of the buildings of M50.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHallways in the buildings at M50 are spacious, some of them have high windows to allow natural light into the building.

DSC_0863Human face is the main theme of one of the artists’ works at M50.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOshadai, a neatly decorated cafe / eatery with a causal touch of the countryside.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStreet art could be seen all over M50.

DSC_0916An outdoor piece made of signage.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA cool coffee shop with fantastic timber structure.

DSC_0983Wall advertisement on the boundary wall of M50.

DSC_0988Even the colour and pattern of a rusty gate look interesting under the sun.

DSC_1000.JPGTree stump art with dragon carving.

DSC_1001Another street art with a local touch.

DSC_1004Under the water tank is another artist studio, which can be accessed by the stair and concrete deck that wraps around the sign “Waiting for You”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA partial replica of Michelangelo’s David with nearby residential development at the background.

DSC_1014The cutest cat sat at the door threshold of a cafe with both of its paws fixed on the saddle.

 

***

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


ROCKBUND, Shanghai, China

Primarily under the control of the British, the Bund area was known as Shanghai International Settlement in 1862 when the British and American settlements and a number of other nations united to form an international concession zone, while the French maintained its own concession to the south.  Years before establishment of the International Settlement, foreign forces were already actively developed each of its own concession in the city, and engaged in trading and other affairs of their own interest since the end of First Opium War in 1842.  For a hundred years until the Second World War, these concessions remained under foreign control.  Today, large amount of the former colonial architecture remain.  Not only do they become a symbol of Shanghai’s history, these western structures also offered opportunities for new businesses to come in and convert these stone and brick mansions into cool restaurants and high end shops, taping in cash from the new local wealthy class.

Rockbund is a revitalization project of a series of colonial buildings in the Bund area, including the former British Embassy.  Foreign architects were invited to do the restoration and redesign.  British architect David Chipperfield was assigned with 11 buildings in the Rockbund area.  Most of the buildings were off limits to visits.   unless we went in as customers.  We could at least visit Rockbund Art Museum.  A century ago, much of the International Concession was off limit to the local Chinese; today, ironically many of the restored buildings of Rockbund remained off limits to the general public.  Security guards with rudeness and distasteful attitude prevent anyone to even come close to the buildings and discourage people to take photos.  We had a brief stroll in the Rockbund area before arriving at Rockbund Art Museum.  In the midst of exclusive and hostile atmosphere of the Rockbund, the Art Museum in contrast expressed a sense of welcome and remained truly a place for culture.

Also restored by David Chipperfield, Rockbund Art Museum was the former Royal Asiatic Society Building, an well restored Art Deco building.  The museum was hosting a solo show of installation art called “Ifs, Ands, or Buts” by Heman Chong, a well-known Singaporean artist.  It was delightful to walk from floor to floor to see Chong’s works.  At the top level, we were greeted with a free coffee when we showed our admission tickets.  We walked out to the roof terrace with good views of the area and beyond.  The weather was fine.  We were fortunate enough to see the blue sky and enjoy the fine weather and acceptable air quality, which are getting really difficult to come by these days in a Chinese city.

DSC_0737The alleyways of Rockbund were almost deserted except a few tourists and the security guards.

DSC_0744Many historical buildings were well restored to reveal their former glory.

DSC_0752Touches of local ornament with predominately Western style architecture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASecurity guard.

DSC_0759Opened in 1930, the Zheng Guang Guang Xue Building was once home to China’s largest publishing company.

DSC_0763A touch of Christmas.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARockbund.

DSC_0771The former British embassy had become a restaurant and a banquet venue.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARockbund Art Museum redeveloped by architect David Chipperfield.

DSC_0789Railing in the Rockbund Art Museum.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA piece by Heman Chong displaying artificial blossoms.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe atrium and skylight were blocked off in order to house Heman Chong’s pieces.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe curve stairs in Art Deco style.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAReaching the top floors of the building.

DSC_0818At the top floor, a young man was reciting poems and other writings.

DSC_0822In some cases, the historical buildings were stripped down excepted the outer facades.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAView towards Pudong.

***

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


SOUP DUMPLINGS AND MORNING STROLL, Shanghai, China

The next morning, our friend told us to meet him near the metro station of People’s Square.  As instructed, we exited the metro and found our way to Huanghe Road.  Along the way, we stopped to admire an interesting building at no. 50 Huanghe Road.  After we met up with our friend, we headed straight for our tasty breakfast at the well known Jia Jia Tang Bao for their soup dumplings.  We queued in front of the restaurant for about 20 minutes before sitting down.  We ordered three different types of soup dumplings: pork, pork with crab paste, and pure crab paste.  The pure crab paste soup dumplings were fresh and delicious, definitely worth the 20 minute wait on the street.

After breakfast, our friend took us for a walk towards the Bund.  We walked past various residential neighborhoods.  Near Nanjing East Station, we went inside New World Daimaru Department Store to have a peek at the world’s biggest spiral escalator.  From Daimaru, it was only a few minutes walk to the Rock Bund, a mix-use redevelopment zone in the former foreign concession area, in which a series of heritage buildings were renovated into luxury shops and high-end restaurants.

DSC_0662The elegance and humanistic scale of No. 50 Huanghe Road illustrated a big contrast with the odd looking skyscraper in the background.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHuanghe Road was flanked with a number of interesting snack shops and local eateries.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAQueuing to eat at a place as famous as Jia Jia Tang Bao proved worthwhile.

DSC_0674Jia Jia Tang Bao is very popular with both locals and tourists.

DSC_0678Behind glass the staff were busy preparing the dumplings with meat and flour.

DSC_0681For such a big metropolis, many residential areas in Shanghai are surprisingly low density.

DSC_0687A street corner occupied by an interesting curved residential complex.

DSC_0698Sidewalk pavement fully utilized for drying laundry.

DSC_0701Mix use buildings with ground floor retail were common scenes in Shanghai.

DSC_0707Behind the street gate, a small residential community with internal alleyways is typical in the city.

DSC_0712Sidewalk pavement used for drying again and again.

DSC_0727The central atrium of New World Daimaru Department Store with a digital video screen at the top.

DSC_0728The spiral escalator ramping up the floors is cladded with bronze coloured panels.

DSC_0731Old westernized buildings could be seen all over the neighborhood near the Bund.

***

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


LION GROVE GARDEN, Suzhou, China

Another UNESCO World Heritage enlisted Suzhou garden, the Lion Grove Garden (獅子林園) is much smaller in scale compared to Humble Administrator’s Garden.  The garden is famous for its artificial Taihe rocks, where visitors can meander through a labyrinth of rocks that were grouped and constructed into miniatures of mysterious landscapes.  Originally built in 1342 during the Yuan Dynasty, the Lion Grove Garden had been famous for centuries.  Throughout history, the garden had gone through several cycles of restorations and declines.  In early 20th century, I. M. Pei’s grandfather became the owner of the garden, and put great effort to restore the garden to its former glory.  Today, the garden is owned by the state, and has become an icon of Suzhou.

After Humble Administrator’s Garden, we only had time for one more gardens before our return train to Shanghai.  We chose Lion Grove Garden over the others because of its famous rocks.  By the time we entered the garden, the afternoon sun was casting neat shadows and a yellowish glow to the rocks and pavilions.  Many local tourists were around, but we managed to enjoy ourselves much better at Lion Grove Garden than the Humble Administrator’s Garden.  The scale of Lion Grove was more intimate, and the dozens or so pavilions were neatly placed at strategic locations ideal for framing interesting views of the garden.  Seeing some of the traditional design elements of the Lion Grove Garden made us realized that some geometric motifs of I. M. Pei’s architecture might have come from his childhood’s experience of this magnificent Suzhou garden.

Before heading back to the train station, we dropped by the restaurant Wu Men Ren Jia (吳門人家) for a quick afternoon tea.  Made its name by hosting a number of international guests and famous individuals such as I. M. Pei and local politicians, Wu Men Ren Jia wrapped up our brief Suzhou visit with a memorable taste of the regional cuisine.

DSC_0453An exquisite sculpture in the drawing room at the first courtyard of the Lion Grove Garden.

DSC_0458_02An octagon and then circular gateways greeted our arrival to the inner garden area.

DSC_0492The scene of a tree standing behind a series of stained glass windows was one of our favorite images of the Lion Grove Garden.

DSC_0496The abstract rock design of Lion Grove Garden serves as a visual attraction when viewing from afar, and also stands as an intimate labyrinth in which a network of hidden paths allow visitors to meandering through the rock clusters at different levels.  Unfortunately it was simply impossible to appreciate the rock garden without the crowds.

DSC_0529Pavilions, artificial rocks, zigzag bridges and reflective pools are the common elements of a traditional Chinese garden.

DSC_0554Like the Summer Palace in Beijing, a stone boat offered a special attraction to the garden complex.

DSC_0555For some reason, ancient Chinese were very fond of the abstract looking rocks.

DSC_0561Water gave a sense of coherency and softened the atmosphere of the rocks.

DSC_0573A young woman was making Chinese water colour drawings at a pavilion.

DSC_0583View of the garden through the stain glass window of the stone boat.

DSC_0588The main zigzag bridge of Lion Grove Garden.

DSC_0600Most visitors were wandering only in the central pool and rock garden areas.  Here at a quiet corner at the side, we found a moment of serenity under the late afternoon sun.

DSC_0605Bamboo grove and wooden veranda provide a good buffer between the interior and the exterior.

DSC_0607A window opened to the small courtyard, framing the tree and an ornate screen motif like a painting.

DSC_0616After the visit to the Lion Grove Garden, we had about a bit of time left before our scheduled train back to Shanghai.  There was a local restaurant called Wu Men Ren Jia just a stone throw away.  The restaurant was tucked inside a narrow lane way which took us some time to find.

DSC_0614At Wu Men Ren Jia, we sampled two local dishes: the slow-cooked braised pork and the river shrimp stir fry with green tea leaves. The dishes were on the oily side for us but they were well cooked with the right balance of flavors. Having the opportunity to taste the authentic traditional dishes from South of the Yangtze was a bonus for our brief visit to Suzhou.

DSC_0621The sun was setting behind a willow by a canal.  Given the dusty construction sites all over the place and the busy traffic in the city, today’s Suzhou must be very different than what it used to be.

DSC_0627We bid farewell to Suzhou as we entered Suzhou Station under its gigantic canopy.

***

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


HUMBLE ADMINISTRATOR’S GARDEN, Suzhou, China

After Suzhou Museum, we moved on to next door to visit the Humble Administrator’s Garden (拙政園).  Humble Administrator’s Garden is the largest garden in Suzhou, and one of the most popular gardens in Southern China.  This UNESCO heritage site was first built in 1509 and was once the private garden of different poets, scholars and the wealthy and famous individuals in the region. This 5.2-hectare garden is dominated by pavilions, lily ponds, small lakes, small villas, and a extensive network of bridges and covered walkways.

The garden was full of local visitors.  For the first half of the garden, it felt like as if we entered a community park with leisure walkways winding along a small lake.  Spring flowers were in full bloom, while locals were busy taking selfies.  The garden was really crowded and sometimes noisy.  We imagined that it would be pleasant to wander around Humble Administrator’s Garden if we could come at a less crowded time.  Nevertheless, we did find charming moments deeper in the garden at a few tranquil spots.

DSC_0331Once inside, the garden is dominated by a series of lakes and ponds of various sizes.

DSC_0350The garden is full of small sky-wells and courtyards, blurring the boundary between exterior and interior spaces.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFlying eaves of a pavilion by the water.  An interconnected water system was considered to be a crucial element in a traditional Suzhou garden.

DSC_0359A covered bridge linking pavilions and covered walkways in the garden.

DSC_0361Interior decorations inside a pavilion.

DSC_0374 Window openings in Chinese architecture often serve as picture frames for beautiful scenery.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA tranquil corner of water pond, peach blossom and white washed walls viewed from a small pavilion.

DSC_0383Humble Administrator’s Garden is a perfect place for a leisure stroll when it is not overwhelmed by visitors.

DSC_0391A painter at work attracting the attention of a tourist group.

DSC_0408The undulating tiled roof resembles the back of the dragon.

DSC_0417A zigzag walkway along a water pond and mirror-like reflections.

DSC_0420Vine trellis of different designs could be found in the garden. They provided perfect sun shading to visitors.

DSC_0422The pink peach tree blossom standing out among the garden greenery was often the centre of attention to visitors.

DSC_0433The vine trellis provided pleasant natural shading for visitors.

DSC_0438Pink flowers in full bloom near the exit of the garden.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStreet vendor selling a wide range of fresh fruits. Bright red, green, yellow and purple, these colourful fruits caught our attention from afar.

 

***

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


SUZHOU MUSEUM, Suzhou, China

Before we kicked off our brief spring break in Shanghai, we took a high speed train to visit  Suzhou, Shanghai’s neighboring city famous for its picturesque canals and historical gardens about 100km northwest of Shanghai.  Today, Suzhou is the second largest city in Jiangsu Province, and is only half an hour of high speed train away from Shanghai.  Its gigantic train station is conveniently located by the Waicheng River just north of the old city.  Across Waicheng River, the north gate and the ancient city wall reminded visitors its 2500 years of history.  The full blossoms of peach flowers along the river promenade signified the pleasant spring season south of Yangtze River.

We crossed a bridge to enter the old city, and continued to headed southeast towards Suzhou’s tourist heartland, the area around Humble Ambassador’s Garden.  Just before reaching Humble Ambassador’s Garden, we decided to first check out Suzhou Museum.  Designed by architect I. M. Pei, the museum is a pleasant destination to have better understanding about the ancient city.  Borrowing design motifs, colour palette and planning strategies from the local architecture, Suzhou Museum expresses a contemporary atmosphere with touches of the local heritage.  At the heart of the complex, the central courtyard maintained the spirit of a Suzhou garden, with water ponds, pine trees, and a contemporary reinterpretation of Suzhou artificial mountains.

The collections in the Suzhou Museum ranged from artifacts to historical paintings.  We were more interested in the architecture itself, from its minimalist rock garden to its interior water feature where a prominent staircase connected all floors.  After a brief tour of the building, we exited the museum at a side entrance leading to a well preserved historical garden complex.  The complex belonged to Prince Zhong of Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, a state that ruled part of China in the mid 19th century.  By the time we exited the complex onto the main pedestrian street, we were only a stone throw away from the entrance into Humble Ambassador’s Garden.

DSC_0188High speed rail links Suzhou to Shanghai in only half an hour.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASuzhou Railway Station stands at the opposite to the city’s old north gate.

DSC_0202Peach and plum flowers greeted us outside Suzhou Railway Station.

DSC_0228Inside Suzhou Museum, we were soon attracted by these huge vine plants that dominated the trellis of a courtyard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe giant vines.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell lit corridors connect all exhibition rooms in the museum.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWithin the museum complex, the central courtyard and its reflective pool often serve as a visual focus beyond the windows.

DSC_0242This magnificent landscape painting in the garden is made of various thin sheets of rocks.  The layering of the mountain-like stones and its reflections make a perfect scenery for the garden, presenting a twist to the traditional Chinese gardens.

DSC_0245 The simple geometry and the elegant aesthetic of the building were greatly inspired by the regional tradition of architecture.

DSC_0268Feature stair in the museum.

DSC_0279Feature stair with the mini water fall beyond.

DSC_0288Feature stair in the museum.

DSC_0275Skylights were used in a number of exhibition halls to provide soft ambient lighting.

DSC_0277The pleasant main hallway where visitors come and exit the museum.

DSC_0313 A stage for Chinese opera in the former Prince Zhong Complex.

DSC_0324 Decorative planting, rock display and natural light in small courtyards at Prince Zhong’s Complex.

DSC_0328The front hall of Prince Zhong Complex opens directly to the main pedestrian streets.

 

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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


SHANGHAI, 2016

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It has been more than a decade since we last visited Shanghai. That year, the 88-storey high Jinmao Tower was the tallest building in the city before being surpassed by the 101-storey high Shanghai Financial Center in 2008 and then by the 128-storey high Shanghai Tower in 2015. This time, we came to Shanghai with a purpose, not just for sightseeing, but visiting an old friend who happened to be living in the city temporarily as an expat.

Four days was all we got. Short as it might seem; but having someone who knows us well as a host, showing us around the city, made every moment of this trip eventful. During these four days, we checked out Shanghai’s new art scene, meandered through Shanghai’s old and new neighborhoods, sampled a variety of delicious local cuisine,  visited a number of iconic buildings, and the best among all, experienced this marvelous Chinese city with a childhood friend.

 

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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