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.
The alleyways of Rockbund were almost deserted except a few tourists and the security guards.
Many historical buildings were well restored to reveal their former glory.
Touches of local ornament with predominately Western style architecture.
Opened in 1930, the Zheng Guang Guang Xue Building was once home to China’s largest publishing company.
A touch of Christmas.
The former British embassy had become a restaurant and a banquet venue.
Rockbund Art Museum redeveloped by architect David Chipperfield.
Railing in the Rockbund Art Museum.
A piece by Heman Chong displaying artificial blossoms.
The atrium and skylight were blocked off in order to house Heman Chong’s pieces.
The curve stairs in Art Deco style.
Reaching the top floors of the building.
At the top floor, a young man was reciting poems and other writings.
In some cases, the historical buildings were stripped down excepted the outer facades.
View 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