“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Another Year, Another Blot on the Landscape

Posted: December 8th, 2009 | 5 Comments »

In among the many horrible developments foisted on Shanghai in recent years it’s hard to find one quite as bland, boring and people unfriendly as the Park Place development on the corner of Nanjing West Road and Jiaozhou Road (formerly Kiaochow Road and Bubbling Well Road). It’s symptomatic of the people-unfriendly environment being constructed – a spa for the rich, a hotel for the rich, an office building for the rich suits and not even an attempt at a park!! Meanwhile up at the junction of Nanjing West Road and the Jing An Temple you can’t even cross the road anymore – cars can flow through freely but pedestrians must now enter a subterranean world of sock sellers and weary road sweepers (what you do if you’re in a wheelchair or can’t manage the stairs I have no idea!). And so Shanghai becomes less a city about people and more a city about cars and the wealthy. Here’s a quick comparison of old and new styles – the old Eddington House art-deco masterpiece with more than a few flourishes and lavish attention to design and the Park Place boxes that have gone up opposite – dreary, uninspired and uniform black like a maximum security prison. We truly do live in an age that has lost all sense of style and taste.

Park Place

Park Place – Architecture only a secret policeman could love

Eddington House

Eddington House – One of the last few glorious building left in the area

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5 Comments on “Another Year, Another Blot on the Landscape”

  1. 1 ymm said at 10:13 am on December 8th, 2009:

    can’t agree more, it’s all about how the rich enjoy their life, and we are not even that rich as a country… people-unfriendly, that’s what I think the main problem is in this country, despite of the ever growing GDPs, can’t help being cynic a bit

  2. 2 marietti burgers said at 2:59 am on December 9th, 2009:

    I could not agree more.I just hope that the city finds her common sense and understands that a city is about people and not buildings,is about a common interest and not just one’s own interest,is about togetherness instead of seperateness,is about belonging instead of being shut out.

  3. 3 Ism schism said at 8:17 am on December 9th, 2009:

    What drives me crazy is the ridiculous juxtapositions of classic old buildings and modern glass boxes slapped right next door.

    One awful example is a new glass box fitted out with hundreds of color-changing lights right next to the Moller Villa (fairy tale brick castle) on the corner of Shanxi Lu and the Yanan Highway.

    Who could have thought this was acceptable?

    Another is the curved white gleaming shopping mall shoved right up the backside of the Jing An Temple. Of course the Jing An Temple itself is largely a tourist temple and has undergone a “facelift” so that it now looks like it was built yesterday.

    Oversize, ill-fitting, poorly matching buildings sprout up all over this city often with garish lights or other exterior baubles and no pretense of trying to fit int he with the surrounding architecture.

    Somehow it’s fitting that the ugly 80’s-version-of-future concrete TV tower is the symbol of modern Shanghai (and yes I realize it was built in the early 90’s, but the design clearly speaks 80’s China).

  4. 4 eveyao said at 6:30 pm on December 14th, 2009:

    The famous Chinese writer Eileen Chang used to live in that building. The old villas are the real treasure of the city but nowadays, even as a Shanghaiese myself, I am getting sick of the smell of materialism itself. Only in some places, you think it is in Shanghai…

  5. 5 Paul French said at 7:39 pm on December 14th, 2009:

    Eve thanks – this may be of interest – http://www.chinarhyming.com/2009/11/11/eileen-zhangs-expensive-coffee/


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