Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Surprisingly to us Shanghai is the city with the most art deco buildings in the world and it’s not hard to see great examples as you walk the streets but it was in the Hongkou District that we saw possibly the strangest of them all.

It’s called Building 1933, which kind of nails its deco credentials for you. Originally designed by a British architect as an abattoir, this complex concrete structure was built with aggregate imported all the way from Portsmouth in the UK. The result is a mindboggling arrangement of air bridges, ramps and stairs that immediately bring to mind the optical confusions of M C Escher. To even think of cattle being herded up and down the building’s interior ramps is beyond surreal. Later Building 1933 became a medical factory and since 2008, after a major renovation, has been attempting to reinvent itself as a hip entertainment centre cum creative hub. Hopefully it had more success when it was an abattoir.