Monday, August 8, 2011

Renovating Shanghai Bund, China again?

Rip up the Bund and start again?

Global Times | August 05, 2011 08:27
By Andrea Scarlatelli



Here we go again. While officials spent more than three years renovating Shanghai's historic Bund to get it ready in time for the Expo, it looks as though construction will start once again. Plans have recently been announced to "re-renovate a portion of the Bund with five tall and narrow gold buildings, including two 31-story skyscrapers. The buildings will be an estimated three times taller than its historic neighbors," according to a story on shanghaiist.com. While these new high-rises, which will reportedly house (surprise, surprise) more hotels and office buildings, will create more jobs, I believe that these mammoth buildings will ultimately hurt tourism and the many local businesses that already exist on the Bund.

There is no doubt that the Bund is a huge tourist draw. With its old, European-style buildings and sprawling wooden walkway along the river, it is one of the last remaining places in Shanghai that can be called truly unique. This sense of quaintness and charm is what draws people - Shanghai residents and visitors alike - to it.

The Bund provides a sense of history in a city rapidly losing any sense of its own. But the height of these new proposed buildings means that many of Shanghai's favorite restaurants, bars and clubs will now have their view of the water completely blocked - which could mean their business will suffer. Additionally, the rather brazen and, if I may say so, gaudy gold color chosen for the project clashes jarringly with the understated gray and brown brick of the old buildings. It will certainly be a juxtaposition of "old" and "new," that's for sure.

The plan to "re-renovate" the Bund is also, I believe, a gigantic waste of time and money. While China is not exactly known for its efficiency in the work department, it still amazes me that just one year after renovation ended to improve the Bund in time for the Expo, plans have been approved to rip it up once again to build something different. According to local media, the government spent over 5 billion yuan ($776 million) renovating the Bund the first time. Cost estimates have yet to be announced for this "re-renovation," but I expect it to be just as astronomically high.

I can only wonder how long it will be after these new skyscrapers are finished before someone changes their mind and decides to destroy another part of the newly renovated Bund to build something else. With an estimated completion time of 2014, it looks as though Shanghai residents will simply have to put up with years of more construction work, dirty air, and blocked-off roads near the Bund before this new "masterpiece" can be revealed.

Note: For pictures viewing of the nightlife at Shanghai Bund, China, please click here

(Extracted from Global Times dated 5th August 2011)

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