A black day for all those interested in preservation and heritage in Shanghai and a wake up call to all those who insist on telling me that the authorities are no longer tearing down important historical structures or are serious about preserving Chinese architecture in the city. The three storey wooden structure in Shanghai’s old town (Nanshi) was known locally as the House of Shen. It was built in 1860 by Shen Yisheng, a shipping merchant from Fujian Province. At the time of its construction it was far and away one of the largest and most luxurious properties in Shanghai. The Cultural Heritage Bureau of Huangpu apparently attempted to stop the demolition work after learning it was one of the city’s oldest homes – however, the power of the property developers dwarfed them and the building has gone to clear land for, guess what, a new luxury apartment high rise (because Shanghai needs another one!). Shamefully the (apparently misnamed) Cultural Heritage Bureau of Huangpu had not got around to listing the building as a heritage building (presumably as no minor meetings of the Communist Party ever took place there) and so nothing can be done to punish the property developer.
click here to see video footage of the house being destroyed
And here for a fuller history of the House of Shen wit pictures of the finer architectural details and motifs of the old structure
What was left of the House of Shen Compound shortly before destruction – architectural experts at Shanghai’s Tongji University claim it would have been a straightforward (if costly obviously) process to restore the property to its former glory.