Huangpu River waterfront's cultural hub of modernity

Xu Lingchao
A few years ago there was little of interest at the east bank of Huangpu River, but the waterfront has evolved into something of a cultural haven over the past two years.
Xu Lingchao
Huangpu River waterfront's cultural hub of modernity
Huang Riyue / Ti Gong

The waterfront on the east bank of the Huangpu River is an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll in any season whether it is spring, summer, autumn or winter.

A few years ago there was little of interest to locals, residents or tourists, but the waterfront has evolved into something of a cultural haven over the past two years.

The 45-kilometer riverfront, with continuous paths and bridges, provides several colorful walkways for people who want to enjoy the sunshine, view and culture.

The waterfront on the east bank of Huangpu River, in the Pudong New Area, stretches out 22 kilometers, connecting Lujiazui financial center, the former World Expo site and boundless city landmarks, such as the Qiantan area, an upmarket business and residential site.

The east side of the riverbank was once intermittently blocked by ferry docks, commercial buildings, restaurants and construction sites. To link them, 12 pedestrian bridges now span the creeks and waterways running off the main river in Pudong, or skirt round some of the urban facilities that would otherwise interrupt the paths.

Converted art centers

Several historical buildings have been preserved alongside the river, including the Minsheng Road Wharf first built by the British in 1908, where a complex of gigantic silos stands nearby.

Built in the 1990s, these 50-meter-tall silos were once part of the biggest grain silo site in Asia. They could store over 80,000 tons of grain and sugar.

Though they no longer function, the silos still stand tall overlooking the Huangpu River, bearing watch on the river’s history which was once the hub of the city’s water transport.

The grand opening of the Pudong riverfront gave the silos a facelift and turned the complex into a huge cultural exhibition space, and the Shanghai Urban Space Art Season was held here in 2017.

At night, the silos become a new landmark as 22 projectors light them up.

Riverside post houses

The riverfront path in Pudong is embellished by 22 pavilions named Wangjiang Yi, literally meaning “post house overlooking the Huangpu River.”

These cottages stand every kilometer along the path, offering lounge rooms, toilets, vender machines and umbrellas for people passing by. The cottages not only provide people with a place to rest but a space with cultural products and events for residents to enjoy and appreciate.

The Wangjiang Yi cottages also offer a splendid view of Huangpu River and the Bund.

Each Wangjiang Yi cottage is designed with a different idea to bring alternative forms of culture to the residents.

The first three “sample houses” of Wangjiang Yi give people a glimpse of a colorful cultural life from the past.

Wangjiang Yi No. 1 located near the Yangpu Bridge is the starting point for all 22 cottages.

It is a small library with an abundant stock of books, and reading events are organized here from time to time. Friends and families often take time out of their busy schedules to come to the library and catch a little quiet time.

Wangjiang Yi No. 2 on the other hand, offers a vastly different experience.

Located at Minsheng Road Wharf, people can see the imposing silos standing tall behind it, which somehow gives the cottage a sense of steampunk style.

The cottage is themed with virtual reality technology. People can use VR glasses and enjoy views of the Great Wall or experience a fierce adventure with monsters and robots. Photos of Pudong’s modern landmarks, such as the skyscraper cluster in Lujiazui’s financial hub, offer people different angles of the landmarks from the perspectives of photographers. People can also make postcards with their own styles in the cottage.

Wangjiang Yi No. 3 located in the greenbelt of Lujiazui has two faces. During the day it is a small café for people to take a break. Over 500 books are stored here, a quarter of them children’s books. There is also a small exhibition area in the cottage. Calligraphies, fiction books and the chessboard used by women’s world chess champion Ju Wenjun are displayed.

When the evening comes, the cottage becomes a cultural living room where salons and online streaming seminars take the stage.

Famous Peking Opera performer Wang Peiyu, writer Ye Xin and photographer Chen Dongyi have all made an appearance at the small cottage.

In the future, people will be able to enjoy all kinds of culture at the cottages with diverse content and context.

While people often refer to the Times Square in New York as the crossroad of the world, Pudong is striving to make the waterfront of Huangpu River the living room of the world.

International sport events are held in Pudong. Last week, the 2019 Archery World Cup was wrapped up at Lujiazui.

More than 20 world champion archers walked the scenic riverfront to take selfies at Wangjiang Yi and uploaded them onto social media so the whole world would be able to see the beauty of the Huangpu riverfront in Pudong.

Huangpu River waterfront's cultural hub of modernity
Huang Riyue / Ti Gong

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