Gong Hey Fat Choy or Gong Xi Fa Cai to our readers who celebrate Chinese New Year. 2015 brings in the Year of the Sheep or Goat, an animal symbolic of peace, harmony, co-existance and tranquility. May the sheeps' power ring true and strong. In honour of the Chinese New Year, I bring you some thoughts on Shanghai - an impressive city on the move.
On a recent visit to Shanghai, I went looking for projects that exude a sense of the past in the present. Contemporary statements that evoke the recent history - for all history in Shanghai is relatively recent having only been founded as a foreign trading concession in 1844. The biggest city in the world has always been in a state of flux but the current period brings forward many cultural treasures from its unique past while also giving free reign to its essential dynamism and sense of urgent progress.
I have been to Shanghai four times over the past ten years. Rather than list the incredible architectural achievements I would rather tell you that there has been for me a wonderful sense of the city awaking to its international potential. China aspires to take its position on the world stage and Shanghai is its New York. This brings a refinement in its cultural dimensions and in many of the urban experiences from the parks to the boulevards to the projects small and large that are completed at a very high quality level.
The Water House Hotel - formerly the Japanese Army HQ during World War II and subsequently a warehouse. The skin and distress of its previous lives has been retained to give a unique atmosphere.
Inner courtyard or the Water House Hotel.
The restaurant at the Water House Hotel retains the bricks and walls from earlier days.
The Zendai Himalayas Center with its organic structures.
A wonderful 8th century BC bronze vessel from the Zhou dynasty in the Shanghai Museum. The channels would have been cut in the wax before casting and then green turquoise and silver were inlaid.
The Twin Villa's, beautifully restored neoclassical buidling, sit on Huai Hai Road in the former French concession area.
The streets can be suprisingly quiet for the biggest city on earth.
There is a sense of an approaching inevitability at times.
Small street in the former French concession.
Street life portrait in the former French Concession.
European buildings on the Bund.
Pudong across from the Bund.