Case Study: Shanghai


With a population of 18 million and growing fast, Shanghai is now China's biggest and most densely populated city. Since 1992, when Deng Xiaoping declared that Shanghai would be the head of the dragon pulling China into the future, the Chinese have poured tens of billions of dollars into rebuilding the city after a half-century of neglect. And the city has seen an unprecedented building boom, with its housing stock more than doubling in the past 15 years.  The current master plan covering the period 1999-2020 is based on a multi-centred urban structure that will lead to wholesale re-urbanisation of the city. After decades of neglect, the city s Municipal Government is addressing issues of public transport and suburban development. At the same time, the Huangpu River has become a focal point - with factories, shipyards and old warehouses being gradually replaced by public open spaces and other activities. The transformation of the waterfront is the key driver of the choice of location of the vast World EXPO 2010 site, closer to the city centre along the riverbanks.

Based on the Huanpu River: 

The former banks along the Bund on the Huangpu River have been transformed into luxury boutiques for the likes of Armani and Ermenegildo Zegna, trendy restaurants such as Jean-Georges, and exclusive nightclubs with breath taking views of Pudong's skyline across the river. Italian companies such a KokaiStudios, which renovated Bund 18, emphasize the city’s former cosmopolitan character. Bund has set a high example for developers of what is possible with old buildings and interiors. No developers want to have similar quality and argue that there is much of a need of know-how exchange between China and the West, when it comes to revitalization projects, pointing out that Italians are for instance very good with historical buildings.


Another case study for preservation is the rebuilt neighborhood Xintiandi, a collage of cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways, and tiled roofs. Xintiandi district was the first part of the old city revitalized by developers. Some 1,600 families living in the neighborhood were relocated to make way for this upscale pedestrian-friendly project. Xintiandi, which translates as "New Heaven and Earth," has become one of Shanghai's top tourist destinations. Locals are drawn to it, as much as foreign tourists, to the bistros, bars, and boutiques that lend it a Western cachet. 


Twenty-five miles northwest of skyscraper-congested downtown, Shanghai's suburban district of Qingpu is like the often-ignored older cousin of the metropolis's more glamorous and wealthier districts. What makes the activities in Qingpu remarkable is that the district does not have any special funds for attracting architects to do public works, but rather managed to attract a number of international architects through cultivating relationships and by giving architects free artistic range. Foreign architects are often eager to build in China and can provide alternative approaches to design and planning. Qingpu has managed to attract a number of architects to build schools, government buildings, a church, and other public places.