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Shanghai’s French Bund – The Last Man Standing

Posted: August 28th, 2011 | No Comments »

The old Butterfield and Swire building on the former Quai de France, or French Bund, (now Zhongshan Dong Er Lu) is all that remains with any history to it. Actually nothing much else is there now, as the developers clear land, except a few rather predictably crap pieces of early 90s Shanghai architecture about which the less said the better.

No.22 is effectively the last man standing on that part of the riverfront south of Avenue Edward VII (Yanan Road). The rest has been pulled down, bulldozed, harmonised into temporary parks that will soon make way for a grotesque SOHO development that will overshadow the former British Bund and generally cast gloom both architecturally and heritage wise. Such is what passes for progress in quick-obsessed, dodgy developer-controlled Shanghai.There used to be a plethora of old godowns, warehouses and commercial premises around here running along to the colonnaded and once truly splendid Rue du Consulat (Jinling Road). For a nice summary of the history and architecture of the French Bund do read this piece from Hugues Martin’s excellent Shanghailander blog.

At least it looks like it will stay, though visiting a restaurant in the building called Brix the other day you immediately note that now the view to the south is a typical insta-park with scaffold supported insta-trees but will soon just be the walls and windows of a massive SOHO high rise – it’s going to be permanently dark dining in Brix I fear!

Not sure what they’re calling this redevelopment – 22 South Bund on the outside and then Bund 1906 on the inside. Externally the building looks great actually if a little marooned! Internally it’s now a sort of messy sub-Venetian, cod-classical mash up that obviously doesn’t really work and is, rather unfortunately, faintly reminiscent of the main hall of an old Victorian prison like Brixton or Pentonville – Brixton Prison is the picture on the right below by the way for anyone confused, the luxury new development is on the left…or maybe it’s the other way round…I’m all confused now…

When will the anti-suicide nets be fitted at No.22 South Bund one wonders?

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