Former industrial zone to be transformed into media base

The Jing'an site on 210 Wenshui Road once housed factory buildings. It is to become a media, TV and film production center.
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The entrance to the exhibition

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Jin Jianzhong stands in front of the machines that he and his co-workers designed at the Shanghai Metallurgical Mining Machine Factory. 

Jin Jianzhong hadn't seen the old factory building where he worked for 40 years for a long, long time until he paid a visit there on Saturday for an exhibition to show plans for its restoration and renovation.

The site, on 210 Wenshui Road, Jing'an, is imprinted on the collective memory of the likes of Jin who devoted their whole working life to the factory.

His eyes moistened when he saw a parade of images, from rusty tools to disused machines to posters with their “safety first” slogans.

“These machines are part of us, our co-workers, companions and friends,” the 70-year-old said. “I’m glad to see that they are preserved. I feel that our hard work is being valued.”

Jin entered the Shanghai Metallurgical Mining Machine Factory in 1965, the 7th year of the factory’s establishment. He moved from being a front-line worker to becoming a machine designer. And it was at the factory that he met his wife Li Yuexia, who is three years younger than him.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Jin and his wife

He left the factory in 2005. Soon after that, the factory stopped operating, a victim of Shanghai’s modernization drive, during which many smokestack industries were replaced by more modern and creative enterprises.

Under the plan, the former heavy industrial zone, equivalent to the size of 15 football pitches, will be transformed into a home for a theater, broadcasting studio and media company.

Renovation started early this year and is set to be finished before 2018.

“The factory had kept expanding, and thus it left a great number of buildings in different periods, which is epitome of China’s modern industry history,” said Chen Xueqing, deputy commercial manager of Innovation Galaxy, the developer and operator.

She said some of the red-brick facade, old machines and interior structures and design will be preserved and repaired. 

“We hope to combine the old and the new, through which the site will have its rebirth,” Chen said.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The sculpture entitled Rebirth

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Visitors take photos in front of the Zao art installation.

An example of this concept is a sculpture displayed during the exhibition. Called Rebirth, it is made of recycled steel and aluminum, which was collected by the renowned artist David Hind from the construction site. It is designed as a hand carrying a lotus blossom, in tribute to the factory's front-line workers.

Another highlight of the exhibition is an art installation called Zao, made up of disused tools and machine parts such as gears.

Visitors were able to watch an outdoor movie screening and eat caifan, fried rice with greens — a common food supplied by the factory’s canteen.

The exhibition is part of the three-month Shanghai Urban Space Art Season 2017. 

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