For two years in a row in 2017 and 2018, part of Hollywood Road in Old Central was closed off to host an one-day street carnival known “Heritage Vogue • Hollywood Road”. Live performances, activity booths, and temporary displays were set up to promote heritage preservation in Hong Kong. Being the second oldest street in the city and home to a range of heritage buildings, Hollywood Road in Central and Sheung Wan offers the perfect venue for such an event. In fact, Hollywood Road has long been an urban magnet for all history buffs and foreign tourists. Completed in 1844, Hollywood Road in Central – Sheung Wan was the vital connection linking the military barracks at Possession Point and the city centre in Central during the early colonial times. Today, it passes by some of Hong Kong’s most well known attractions and heritage buildings: Hollywood Park (荷李活道公園), Lascar Row antique market (摩羅街), Man Mo Temple (文武廟), Former Police Married Quarters PMQ (元創方), and Former Central Police Station Tai Kwun (大館), and also popular areas including the foodie paradise of NOHO, the entertainment Mecca of SOHO, and the vibrant Graham Street Market (嘉咸街市). To the disappointment of some people, Hollywood Road has nothing to do with the Hollywood in LA. Instead, there are two main theories behind the street’s naming. First, some say there were once holly trees, also known as Christmas berries, planted along the road. However, historical accounts dispute that holly trees were actually imported to Hong Kong years after the road was built and named. One type of holly tree (冬青) were actually widely planted in the Tai Ping Shan area as a type of Chinese medicine when Western medicine has yet being widely accepted by the people in Hong Kong. The second theory refers to the Hollywood House in Henbury, which was the former residence of John Francis Davis, the second governor (1844 – 1848) of colonial Hong Kong.
For decades, visitors coming to Hollywood Road would notice the abundance of antique shops and art galleries. Before massive land reclamation took place over a century ago, Hollywood Road was not far from the waterfront. Traders, sailors and smugglers would bring their overseas merchandises to sell at Hollywood Road. Gradually, Hollywood Road has become a vibrant marketplace for trading all sorts of curios and antiques from China and around the world. Today these antique shops and galleries continue to attract tourists from all over the world. The former Police Married Quarter, a listed modernist building, was preserved, renovated and opened to the public in 2014 as a mixed use art and design compound known as the PMQ. The project has brought new life into the historical street. In 2018, the long awaited Tai Kwun, or the former Central Police Station Compound also opened its doors to the public. Took 8 years and HKD 3.8 billion to complete, Tai Kwun is the most extensive conservation and revitalization project in Hong Kong. World renowned architect Herzog & de Meuron was involved in the master planning and architectural design of Tai Kwun, transforming the former police compound into a welcoming heritage and art centre. The completion of Tai Kwun and PMQ have dramatically transformed the cultural scenery of Hollywood Road, consolidating Hollywood Road as a primary tourist attraction in Hong Kong.
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.
Signage of 1933 Shanghai at the main entrance.
Interesting architectural articulations are visible everywhere, including the columns at the entrance arcade.
Footbridges at different levels of the complex greatly contribute to the labyrinth feel of the experience.
Visitors walked in the ring of atrium space between the circular tower and the rectangular outer chambers (shops).
Walking up the ramp overlooking a series of narrow stairs (probably for working staff back in the old days).
Even the concrete balustrade was created with a sense of organic fluidity.
The round edges of the architecture reminded us of the former streamline slaughtering process.
A narrow bridge linking the circular tower and the outer wing.
A group of children in vivid colours stood out from the monotonous concrete environment.
Watching people enjoying different corners at Shanghai 1933 was delightful.
Watching people enjoying different corners at Shanghai 1933 was delightful.
Some came for their wedding photos.
A few visitors seemed to be models for fashion photography.
Others were simply groups of young people looking for an interesting selfie spot.
We could see either someone was being photographed or someone taking photos of another person almost anywhere at Shanghai 1933.
Looking down from the highest level.
It was empty inside the circular core tower except some artwork display when we were there.
Footbridges and visitors both provided the most interesting components in any scene of the complex.
Concrete patchworks are visible throughout the complex.
Looking out the main entrance as we exited the complex.
The main facade of Shanghai 1933 as viewed from the canal of Shajing Port.
Other interesting former industrial buildings in the area.
Leaving 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