ArchitectureSee also: Major National Historical and Cultural Sites (Shanghai)
Shanghai has a rich collection of buildings and structures of various architectural styles. The Bund, located by the bank of the Huangpu River, contains a rich collection of early 20th-century architecture, ranging in style from neoclassical HSBC Building to the art deco Sassoon House. A number of areas in the former foreign concessions are also well-preserved, the most notable ones being the French Concession. Shanghai has one of the worlds largest number of Art Deco buildings as a result of the construction boom during the 1920s and 1930s. One of the most famous architects working in Shanghai was László Hudec, an Hungarian-Slovak architect who lived in the city between 1918–1947. Some of his most notable Art Deco buildings include the Park Hotel and the Grand Theater. Other prominent architects who contributed to the Art Deco style are Parker & Palmer, who designed the Peace Hotel, Metropole Hotel, and the Broadway Mansions, and Austrian architect GH Gonda who designed the Capital Theatre. The Bunds first revitalization started in 1986 with a new promenade by the Dutch Architect Paulus Snoeren, the completion was in the mid-1990s.
Despite rampant redevelopment, the old city still retains some buildings of a traditional style, such as the Yuyuan Garden, an elaborate traditional garden in the Jiangnan style.
In recent years, a large number of architecturally distinctive and even eccentric buildings have sprung up throughout Shanghai. Notable examples of contemporary architecture include the Shanghai Museum, Shanghai Grand Theatre in the People's Square precinct and Shanghai Oriental Art Center.
One uniquely Shanghainese cultural element is the shikumen (石库门) residences, which are two- or three-story townhouses, with the front yard protected by a high brick wall. Each residence is connected and arranged in straight alleys, known as a lòngtang (弄堂), pronounced longdang in Shanghainese. The entrance to each alley is usually surmounted by a stylistic stone arch. The whole resembles terrace houses or townhouses commonly seen in Anglo-American countries, but distinguished by the tall, heavy brick wall in front of each house. The name "shikumen" means "stone storage door", referring to the strong gateway to each house.
The shikumen is a cultural blend of elements found in Western architecture with traditional Lower Yangtze (Jiangnan) Chinese architecture and social behavior. All traditional Chinese dwellings had a courtyard, and the shikumen was no exception. Yet, to compromise with its urban nature, it was much smaller and provided an "interior haven" to the commotions in the streets, allowing for raindrops to fall and vegetation to grow freely within a residence. The courtyard also allowed sunlight and adequate ventilation into the rooms.
The city also has some beautiful examples of Soviet neoclassical architecture. These buildings were mostly erected during the period from the founding of the People's Republic in 1949 until the Sino-Soviet Split in the late 1960s. During this decade, large numbers of Soviet experts, including architects, poured into China to aid the country in the construction of a communist state. Examples of Soviet neoclassical architecture in Shanghai include what is today the Shanghai International Exhibition Center. Beijing, the nation's capital, displays an even greater array of this particular type of architecture.
The Pudong district of Shanghai displays a wide range of skyscrapers, many of which rank among the tallest in the world. The most prominent examples include the Jin Mao Tower and the taller Shanghai World Financial Center, which at 492 metres tall is the tallest skyscraper in mainland China and ranks third in the world. The distinctive Oriental Pearl Tower, at 468 metres, is located nearby, and its lower sphere is now available for living quarters. Another highrise in the Pudong area is the newly finished Development Tower, standing at 269 meters.
Since 2008, Shanghai has boasted more free-standing buildings above 400m (3) than any other city. In the future, the Shanghai Tower, slated for completion in 2014, will be the tallest building in China. With a height of 632 metres (2074 feet), the building will have 127 floors and a total floor area of 380,000 sqm. The Shanghai Tower began construction in 2008.
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