Oil tank park to open next March in Xuhui riverside

A new riverside park renovated from a century-old aviation oil station will officially open in downtown Xuhui District in March 2019.

Around the year 1910, China National Aviation Fuel built five huge oil tanks beside the Huangpu River in Xuhui District to serve the needs of the city’s first airport.

Today, an art park, Tank Shanghai, is set to emerge from these five monumental edifices. The tanks have been renovated and will soon become a gallery, library, cafe, education center and theater, to be initially unveiled this month during the World Artificial Intelligence Conference and officially opened next year.

Qiao Zhibing, art collector and designer of the project, updated artists and designers on the park over the weekend at the Hui Forum.

“I hope the heritage site will be a park where the public experience art, nature and the city at the same time,” he said.

The tanks supplied fuel to Longhua Airport until 1966. Two of the original tanks have been demolished to give way to the city’s first heliport which will have aprons and hangers for 21 helicopters. The five remaining tanks, a fire pool and docks, have been preserved.

“These tanks were built with thick steel plates which are still in good condition,” Qiao said.

The park covering 60,000 square meters, with indoor space of 10,000 square meters, will include a public square, gardens and green space with the four smaller tanks and one giant one as reminders of times gone by.

Each tank has its own special look. The No. 3 tank, for instance, has a skylight which can be opened. A patio has been built on its roof where visitors can have a drink and enjoy the riverside scenery after visiting the exhibition, Qiao said.

The No. 5 tank, the largest, is now a theater. Three of the tanks are connected to each other by panoramic walkways. Over 30 species of flora have been planted in the park, and are expected to bloom in time for the WAIC conference, to be held September 17-19.

A former water pumping station near the fuel tanks has undergone renovations to become exhibition site for paintings, photographs and installations.

A former port of the fuel supplier has been retained as a riverside sightseeing platform where visitors can look over the narrowest section of the Huangpu River.

The riverside area is just one section of the 45 kilometers of downtown paths along the river.

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