All things old China - books, anecdotes, stories, podcasts, factoids & ramblings from the author Paul French

What We Lost 2011 – Shanghai’s Architectural Losses Last Year

Posted: February 29th, 2012 | 2 Comments »

And so here, as usual a little late (well a lot late actually), is What We Lost 2011 – following on of course from previous What We Lost’s (2010, 2009). First of all this year a confession – I’ve been out of Shanghai a lot due to work and publishing commitments so I’ve not had as much time to wander the streets of the city cataloguing the destruction as you might have expected. Still, this list never claimed to be comprehensive, just to highlight the continuing destruction of architecture and the continuing blatant abuse and ignorance of heritage and preservation in Shanghai by the government and property developers. And even a cursory glance shows that the massacre continues…..

And so in no particular order:

Ruijin No.1 Road/Huaihai Middle Road north east corner

The loss of the corner structures on Huaihai Middle Road (Avenue Joffre) and Ruijin Number 1 Road (Route des Soeurs) is worrying. Though these were not particularly distinguished structures and had been severely tampered with over the decades there must now be additional concerns for the remaining lanes and traditional housing (much supposedly ‘preserved’) that run of the northern side of Huaihai Middle Road between the North-South Expressway and Changshu Road. Though numerous and mostly intact the loss of this entire corner indicates that that is not a necessarily permanent state.

Nanchang Road/Shaanxi Road south west corner

As we’re still in the former French Concession let’s note that there is a lot of chat about how the former Frenchtown is now supposedly safe and nothing more will be coming down – I have heard this from Shanghai officials (obviously liars by definition), estate agents intent on selling foreigners expensive houses (ibid) and naive foreigners believing the two previous categories of compulsive liars. As you see above corners and whole chunks still disappear. One such example is the south west corner of Nanchang Road (Route Vallon) and Shaanxi Road South (Avenue Roi Albert) I identified as liable to go back in January 2010. It has now gone. Before and after below

Sinan Road – Opposite Sinan Mansions

Last year we mentioned the ridiculous Sinan Mansions development and the knocking down  of perfectly refurbishable properties along Fuxing Road to replace them with fake heritage properties with a bit more space between them!! On the south west junction of Sinan Road (Rue Massenet) and Fuxing Road (Rue Lafayette) several late deco buildings are being mucked about with. The one closest to the corner, which we were able to see inside, had been completely gutted internally. Still believing the Frenchtown is preserved bollocks?

Dalian Road – Shanghai Watch Company Housing

Crossing over to the north of Suzhou Creek and the former Yantgszepoo (now Yangpu) area where foreigners largely pay no attention to anything that happens. The substantial block of lane housing, mostly dating back to the late 1920s/early 1930s to the east of Dalian Road (Dalny Road) between Yulin Road (Yuuin Road) and Huimin Road (Baikal Road) has been steadily being demolished for several years now – in 2011 the block was cleared completely. The only remaining building (just to the right of the picture) is the premises of the Shanghai Watch Company who’s heyday was the 1960s and 1970s prior to the market being flooded with cheap Japanese watches. Many workers at the Shanghai Watch Company lived in these homes as well as many small, independent watch dealers (a few still remain on Yulin Road).

Wholesale destruction continues along Yulin and Huimin Roads east of Dalian Road, however with this block gone (more high rise houses to come) one cannot but be concerned for the future of the western side of Yulin Road across Dalian Road which is home to an eclectic and varied range of architectural styles from Queen Anne to Shikumen to corner shop premises. Most are supposedly under ‘preservation orders’ and several properties date back to 1910. However regular readers of this annual round up will know the true the value of preservation orders in Shanghai! Below are arches and lanes being demolished along Huimin Road east of of Dalian Road.

Yangtzsepoo has seen some serious gutting of notable industrial architecture in the last couple of years:

The front building of the Shanghai Soap Factory at 2310 Yangshupo lu

The old GE factory is now under hoardings at 2218 Yangshupo lu

The Taiping Temple at Lanzhou Road Lane 400

The Shanghai No. 1 Woollen Fibre Factory  and Yangtzepoo cotton mill at Huaide Road (formerly Wetmore Road) – all gone along here excdept for a rather poorly restored former Taipan house

The Aluminium factory at 260 Heljian Road has been heavily, but not overly well, restored.

Finally on Yangpu, the junction of Huoshan Road (formerly Wayside Road) and Huaide Road (Wetmore Road) is now cleared – here it is in its last days:


Just as Frenchtown is supposed to be protected so too the former Jewish Ghetto (Heim) in Tilanqiao. But Hongkou and Tilanqiao keep getting packed away at. Really the loss of buildings in Hongkou is too numerous to mention but here’s a couple of especially sad losses.

Corner House – Gongping Road/Dongdaming Road

Just a few years ago Dongdaming Road (formerly Seward Road) had over a dozen distinctive corner houses, those marvellous curved structures that typified corners across much of the International Settlement with commercial premises on the ground floor and residential above. They were leit-motifs of the Shanghai cityscape. Seward Road was home to over a dozen, the main drag out of Hongkew to Yangtzsepoo. Now most are gone, victims of the road widening along the street due to both EXPO and the construction of the new Shanghai Port Terminal. Now another one is boarded up on the corner of Gongping Road (formerly Kung Ping Road) and is due to go any day now.

Baoding Road/Yuhuang Road

The north west corner of the junction of Baoding and Dongyuhuang Roads (formerly Yuhuang Road East) is on the edge of the former Ghetto but that’s not saved it from complete flattening. What’s going there I don’t know but you can now see how vulnerable the lanes to the west are and exposed to the bulldozers.

The Northern External Roads

Hongzheniao Road and Feihong Road was a big junction just to the north of Zhoujiazui Road (formerly Point Road) in Hongkou/Yangpu (Hongkew/Yangtszepoo) – as such it was in what were referred to as the Northern External roads, technically outside the formal International Settlement boundaries. Still there was much interesting architecture all the same. Indeed the approximately half mile or so of traditional architecture along Hongzheniao Road is all going.

The Bund

I noted the poor internal refurbishment of the old Butterfield and Swire building (no.22) on the former Quai de France or French Bund last year (see here). That situation hasn’t improved. I also note the ripping out of the reasonably OK Lounge 18 at the No.18 The Bund development and its replacement by the completely inapproriate Cuvve – before and after below – a sad end for one floor of the old Chartered Bank Building.

A Few Others to Note:

I mention Nanchang Road (Route Vallon) above but it’s worth going along to see the old french college on the street (now the Shanghai Science Hall) which is under heavy renovation at the moment and isn’t expected to emerge from that in an improved stage heritage-wise! It dates back to 1904 and the interior had been fairly intact. What the state of it is now is anyone’s guess.

Though most of it was gone already – everything on the corners of Xinjian Road (Sinkeipang Road) and Dongchuanzi Road is now gone in Hongkou; similarly with Dongchuanzi Road and Lushun Road (Arthur Road). Nothing remains.

Widespread destruction along Desheng Road and 1930s properties. I don’t know this road so well but it has been catalogued by Sue Anne Tay here.

The final destruction  of a once lovely compound on Lintong Road (formerly McGregor Road) – below – more details on that here.

I’ve posted several times on Kunming Road destruction (Kwenming Road) – i.e. here – That destruction is now pretty total bar one remaining building where the residents are holding out.

Yuezhou Road (formerly Yoochow Road) along the two blocks between Baoding Road and Zhoushan Road (Paoting and Chusan Roads) is one of those great northern border roads of the Settlement. That destruction is moving ahead and will be completely cleared in 2012 I expect. More details and pictures of that road here.

The 1920s architecture along Yoochow Road has also taken a hit out on the northern borderlands – more details and pics here on that one.

The square block at Liaoyang Road (formerly Liaoyong Road) and Huimin Road (Baikal Road) in Hongkou (Hongkew) is now completely cleared – some of these three storey house structures were gorgeous. More details and pics here.

The old Seward Road frontages that I went on about several times in Hongkou are now all gone – see them in their last days here. The entire block between Dongdaming Road (Seward Road) and Lushun Road (Arthur Road) is now no longer.

2 Comments on “What We Lost 2011 – Shanghai’s Architectural Losses Last Year”

  1. 1 Sue Anne said at 11:47 pm on February 29th, 2012:

    You can view the interior of the villas opposite Sinan Mansions which you reference. The migrant workers that used to renovate Sinan Mansions used to live in these very villas. What would be interesting is if they will too, tilt the foundations of the villas.

  2. 2 Mikecheck said at 2:24 pm on March 1st, 2012:

    Thanks for ruining the architecture and heritage part of my day! But seriously, thanks for letting people know.

Leave a Reply