Rethinking Asia’s Public Spaces

Talking over dim sum at a busy Wan Chai restaurant, it doesn’t take much prompting for Christopher Law to reel off the failures of Hong Kong’s public spaces. “No matter how small the space is, they try to fence it off,” he says, taking of sip of pu-erh tea. “All the public seating is extremely […]

The Unsquared Circle of Old Shanghai

Take a look at a map of Shanghai and it still jumps out at you — a tightly-wound ball of narrow streets threading through warrens of centuries-old houses. Call it what you will — the neighborhood seems to have no standard English name, and “Old City,” “Round City,” or simply “Old Shanghai” have been used […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, History, Maps by Christopher Szabla Comments Off on The Unsquared Circle of Old Shanghai , , , , ,

Mahjong in the Rain

The raucous clatter of tiles was unmistakable as I approached the corner of Zhijiang Lu (芷江路) and Xizhang Bei Lu (西藏北路) in Shanghai’s Zhabei district. In a public playground, groups of middle-aged to old people were lazily gathered for an afternoon of mass mahjong and card games. A large group of spectators followed like moths […]

The Slow Demise of Long Spring Lane

A little north of Shanghai’s Suzhou Creek, nestled behind the cacophony of Qipu Lu’s hectic wholesale clothing district, lies the entrance to Changchun “Long Spring” Lane (长春里). It is a crumbling longtang* (弄堂) marked by one of Shanghai’s ubiquitous brick archways, which lies under the lane’s name, chiseled in stone. And it has a very auspicious address: 858 Tanggu […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific by Sue Anne Tay Comments Off on The Slow Demise of Long Spring Lane , , , ,

Collecting the Scraps of a Changing Shanghai

There was no reason to have entered what looked like a dumpster north of Wangjiamatou Lu (王家码头路) which was located in Shanghai’s Old Town, or known better to some as the former walled city of Nanshi (literally ‘southern town’ (南市)) — until a small head in pigtails poked out from behind the rusty doors and […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Interior Space, Society and Culture by Sue Anne Tay Comments Off on Collecting the Scraps of a Changing Shanghai , , , ,

Shanghai’s Seventh-Day Adventist Inn

“No, I told you, you can’t go upstairs if you’re not a guest,” the teenage hotel desk clerk scowled at my camera. Just then, a portly middle-aged man waddled up to the counter and interrupted me, “How much for a room for 3 hours?” Her suspicious eyes not leaving me, the desk clerk pointed to […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Interior Space, Society and Culture by Sue Anne Tay Comments Off on Shanghai’s Seventh-Day Adventist Inn , , ,

Photo of the Week: There Will Be Light

This week’s photo was taken in Shanghai by Damien Polegato. Every week, we feature striking images from our Urbanphoto group on Flickr. Want to see your photos here? Join the group.

Public Service Mosaics in Shanghai

Ruihua Lane (瑞华坊) is one of the many old alleys in Shanghai’s Luwan District (卢湾区), but it’s distinguished by its wonderful display of visual public service announcements made up entirely of large mosaic tiles. Though slightly fading, the posters, in good Party-like slogan fashion, reminded the lane’s former residents of behaviors that went along with […]

Fighting Food Inflation in Shanghai

Built in 1715, the Shangchuan Huiguan (商船会馆) or Merchant Shipping Hall, was a place for business traders to congregate for wheeling and dealing, or to rest for the night before continuing their journey. Their boats would be moored off the ports located southwest of the Bund, along the Huangpu River.

While the Hall itself is authorized for preservation, all the surrounding living quarters have fallen to the wrecking ball. Currently, a family from Anhui lives onsite and are responsible for organizing the razing. On my last trip, I noticed many plots of vegetables surrounding the Hall, on what had been rubble only months ago. Any left over vegetables were laid out to dry in various parts of the house.

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Food, Heritage and Preservation, Society and Culture by Sue Anne Tay Comments Off on Fighting Food Inflation in Shanghai , , , ,

Two Sides of Sinan Lu

Standing in the middle of Sinan Lu (思南路), facing Fuxing West Lu (复兴西路) in Shanghai’s French Concession, one noted commercial development and ostentatious luxury stood face to face with the ghosts of past riches. Yet history and the present are embodied by the tradition of old European-styled villas. Only, the villas on the right had its layout redesigned, foundations tilted sideways, its innards replaced with modern amenities (lifts!), and the courtyards beautified with plenty of commercial landscaping. On the other side of the street stood the original structures, tired, broken down and empty of its occupants.

The Street That Became a Gulf

As I stood in the middle of Anguo Lu, engulfed by bustling crowds, I looked east at the compound where the Shangahinese locals lived, then west-ward where many waidren lived.

There I was, in the cacophonous street that had turned into a gulf, a reminder of the persisting divide that plagues the city.

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Society and Culture by Sue Anne Tay Comments Off on The Street That Became a Gulf , ,

Le Corbusier Died and Nobody Noticed

On August 27th, the forty-fifth anniversary of the death of Swiss architect Le Corbusier slipped by with nobody noticing. His legacy, however, lives on in cities around the world. His idea was to make things better for people. Getting rid of substandard, unhealthy housing, and separating industry from residential areas was supposed to reform both […]

Small-Town Shanghai: Who’s Left?

You don’t have to wander too far from Shanghai to find interesting small towns, that is, ones that have not converted into tourist villages of Disneyland proportions. An hour-long bus ride from Longyang metro stop on Line 2, deep into Pudong, we found ourselves in the town of Dayuan in Nanhui. Towns in China have […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, Heritage and Preservation, Society and Culture by Sue Anne Tay Comments Off on Small-Town Shanghai: Who’s Left? , , ,

Two Cities’ Scale Models

Virtual World: The future of China’s largest city is on bombastic display at the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Centre Set in the seclusion of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, well inside the largest of New York’s outer boroughs, the Queens Museum of Art doesn’t attract the same blockbuster number of international visitors as the megamuseums and power […]

Posted in: Art and Design, Asia Pacific, Maps, Politics, Society and Culture, United States by Christopher Szabla Comments Off on Two Cities’ Scale Models , , , , , ,