Xuhui to highlight history as birthplace of haipai culture

Yang Jian
Shanghai's unique haipai (East Meets West) culture was born in Xuhui and the district plans to showcase that unique history with museums theaters and building restorations.
Yang Jian

Xuhui District plans to highlight Shanghai’s haipai (East Meets West) culture with new theaters and museums and a program to restore historical buildings.

The vision will focus on the Xujiahui neighborhood — considered the birthplace of haipai — the Hengshan-Fuxing roads area and the Huangpu River waterfront.

Haipai combines traditional Chinese culture and Western culture and was born in Xujiahui when renowned Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) scientist Xu Guangqi introduced Western technology and cultures to the city.

Shanghai’s modern film, record, education and meteorological businesses also started there over a century ago.

Xuhui District plans to renovate and reopen a new batch of historical structures and former residences of celebrities and other leading figures in the Xujiahui commercial area and along Hengshan and Fuxing roads to showcase its history as a cultural crossroads.

A cluster of theaters and museums are planned in the former industrial area along the Huangpu River to convert the home of the city’s earliest cement factory, dock, airport and jet assembly line, into a cultural landmark for art exhibitions and performances.

The Xuhui government announced the development blueprint yesterday to contribute to the city government’s campaign to promote Shanghai’s four brands: manufacturing, services, shopping and culture.

Under the blueprint, the city’s first recording studio at 811 Hengshan Road will be renovated into an exhibition hall for the history of China’s film and record industries.

The three-story building opened in 1921 as the offices for Electric and Musical Industries Ltd. Many of China’s most popular contemporary singers recorded there.

In 1982 it became a recording studio for China Record Corp, the country’s oldest record label, and was later converted into a restaurant.

The Tou-Se-We Museum, featuring many local cultural heritage skills will be expanded to become a comprehensive museum for exhibition, collection, teaching and research. The museum was converted from the only remaining part of the former Tou-Se-We Orphanage built during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Historic buildings on Hengshan and Fuxing roads, a major historical conservation area of almost 1,000 villas, will be open to the public or made into innovation parks and headquarters for enterprises, the Xuhui government said.

A former convent will be developed into an exhibition hall to introduce the historical structures along the Hengshan and Fuxing roads. The Blackstone Apartments building on Fuxing Road, which is currently occupied by government offices, will reopen as studios for music institutions from home and abroad.

On the riverside West Bund, the former Shanghai Cement Factory will become home to a cluster of theaters. The former platform of the Nanpu Railway Station will become an art gallery, while an old terminal building of the Longhua Airport will be turned into the West Bund Library.

Other old industrial sites in the waterfront will be converted to host art exhibitions or public events.

A total of 80,000 square meters of public cultural facilities will be built in Xuhui by 2020, including six centers to teach and promote local heritage skills, said Xuhui District Culture Bureau director Chen Chengquan.

Special Reports