New era for major Jing'an shikumen community

Li Qian
Exhibition opens which documents the urban renewal of what used to be one of the city's largest cluster of historic shikumen (stone-gate) style houses. 
Li Qian

An exhibition about the urban renewal of a major shikumen community in Jing’an District has opened at the HKRI Taikko Hui commercial complex.

Built in 1925, Dazhongli, bounded by Weihai, Qinghai, Shimen No. 1 and Nanjing West roads, used to be one of the city’s largest cluster of historic shikumen (stone-gate) style houses. Most residents were senior bank clerks.

The units were later partitioned into smaller flats and occupied by multiple families, which led to squalid living conditions.

A renovation plan was launched in the early 2000s when residents moved to new homes and, in 2017, the HKRI Taikko Hui complex opened to the public.

Tucked away among modern buildings, a century-old magnolia grandiflora tree was preserved. The former campus of Minli Middle School also survived the wrecking ball.

The century-old villa, an exceptional example of cultural fusion, was rolled 57 meters southeast on rail tracks to its current spot, and it was restored to its original look. Now called Cha House, it holds exhibitions and business events.

The exhibition, featuring texts, photos, videos and interactive experiences, will run through March 21. Admission is free.

Meanwhile, a book recording local revitalization has been published. And a historical stroll designed for people to walk in the “new-type" lilong (alleyway) neighborhood Jing'an Villa, former Shanghai residence of Chairman Mao Zedong and other historical buildings around the site.

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