Once known as the ‘Paris of the East’, Shanghai had its heyday in the 1920s and 30s when the bright young things partied, foreign investors were prolific and local businesses boomed. Fueled initially by the profiteers from the opium wars this was a period of style and growth.
There were a large number of foreigners living in the city at that time and buildings sprang up reflecting a fusion of Chinese and Art Deco styles known as ‘Chinese deco’. Today Shanghai is home to one of the richest collections of Art Deco architecture in the world.
The Bund has the most famous and iconic places but this week a few of us hardy teachers set out under a grey foreboding sky to explore the streets of the French Concession in search of some more of the hidden gems.
This building shows the Spanish villa style of architecture with the soft sandstone stucco walls, the spiral features on the columns and a mixture of square and round windows Note also the pitched roofline
Here is a good example of fusion architecture. The rectangular window with the ‘Spanish’ style columns next to an octagonal window which is known as a ba gua (or 8 movements In Taiji)
Here is a nice example of the curved windows which represent a ship in Art Deco. Many of these houses were formally owned by big businessmen or senior members of Chiang Kai Shek’s nationalist party. Nowadays they are divided into apartments and house multiple families. In this building a one room apartment of 10 square meters with a shared bathroom and shared kitchen would cost $1 million today.
In actual fact it is a hospital specifically for artists and people who work in the media industry. How cool is that!
Designed by the Hungarian architect Laslo Hudec this is the most photographed building in Shanghai outside of The Bund.