The Greater Shanghai Plan

The place: Shanghai, China

Type/ subject/ tags: Competition, Awards, Architects

Shanghaiplan9            shanghaiplan

With the establishment of the Shanghai Municipality in 1927, officials responded to the immediate need to redevelop the city’s traditional,  Chinese core. The treaties signed in the 19th century caused the city to be shaped mostly by the foreigners, who established their higher grounds as a result of the concessions given by the Chinese Government in a forced way. Shanghai being a Chinese port city open to foreign investment unconditionally caused to have administrative and management problems and the city became a place for murky, illicit activity. Therefore the municipality, determined to shape the city in an organized  fashion, announced the competition The Greater Shanghai Plan to rebuild the core of the city, which would include the administrative buildings.  “In February 1930, nine final Greater Shanghai project schemes were selected from over 50 submissions (Figure 1) The adoption of the cruciform as the shape of the city’s new proposed center has been rightfully identified as evidence of the Beaux-Arts training absorbed by many of the city’s new, foreign-educated professional class of Chinese architects and planners,…”¹

“Until the second decade of 20th century, China had no professional architects to speak of in the western sense … Building, and indeed architecture, was the responsibility of craftsmen and master builders following tradition… ”². The first architects , who were educated outside China, were the ones who had the opportunity to reshape the old civilization in modern sense, like Zhao Shen, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, who was the designer of the winning scheme (Figure 2) in 1930.

¹ Cole Roskam, “Rendering the City: Municipal Architecture in Shanghai, 1927-1937” in Constructing the colonized land: entwined perspectives of East Asia around WWII, ed.Izumi Kuroshi. (London: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2014), 48-51.

² Peter g. Rowe and Seng Kuan, Architectural Encounters with Essence and Form ın Modern China  (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 22002), 24.


-Constructing the colonized land: entwined perspectives of East Asia around WWII, by editor Izumi Kuroshi

– Architectural Encounters with Essence and Form ın Modern China, by Peter g. Rowe and Seng Kuan


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