Plaza 353 ruinovation

Plaza 363 outsideWatching the renovation of the “Dong Hai building” on Nanjing Dong Lu was a mixed joy and disappointment… just like the final result. The Continental department store building from 1933 is a fine piece of Shanghai architecture. Although not as extravagant as other Shanghai building from this period, it had an interesting “zig zag” façade representative of the geometrical motives used in Art Deco.
Seeing this building surrounded by scaffoldings was scary as always in Shanghai. One is never sure whether the next step will be destruction or renovation. The prime location on Nanjing Lu and previous demolition of neighboring buildings did not give much hope … but it survived. The facades have been well preserved, even if the ground floor is just not the same as it was before. At least, it keeps a consistent look with the building’s style and keeps the atmosphere around this part of Nanjing Lu… the less nice part of the story is the inside.
Plaza 363 insideThe building had an inside courtyard that has been covered to create indoor space inside. I have seen this feature many times in Central and Eastern Europe and it’s a great way to develop such a construction. Having seen many early 20th century buildings being carefully restored and transformed into office buildings or high class shopping malls… I was expecting more. As in most “ruinovation” in Shanghai, nothing remains from the original interior. Some (like Central Plaza on Huai Hai Lu) managed to keep use the original volume, giving a special feeling to their store… but this was not the aim of the developer of Plaza 353. The inside looks and feels like a cheap copy of CITIC Square and could be just in any concrete building in any suburb of Shanghai… not a high class shopping center on the busiest shopping street of Shanghai. Best advice for old Shanghai lovers… enjoy it from the outside but don’t get inside. At least the facades were preserved, that is already not so bad.

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