Home sweet home

1920's house in France
1920's house in France

After spending so much time in studying the old villas of the French Concession in Shanghai, I definitely got some acquired taste for this period and its architecture. Just like earlier trips to the UK (see post “London of the East” and “London Recalling“), I have used my trip to France to make pictures of building that remind me of old Shanghai. This is in no way a systematic study, I just stopped along the road to take a few snapshots of houses that caught my attention.

First is this 1920’s house in a small town. Although smaller, the style of this building is quite similar to the houses mentioned in recent posts “portrait of an old neighbour“. The shape of the roof and the frame of doors and windows are really specific of French houses in this period and style. The round windows on each side are also a type that I have seen on many houses in old Shanghai, though often on older buildings like the large brick mansions from the international settlement.

Row of houses in France
Row of houses in France

I have passed by the row of houses (picture left) many times before. Again, these are houses from the 1920’s, probably built as middle management housing for the (then booming) coal and iron industry in this small city. The general shape of the houses, round shapes of the door and usage of fake ‘half-timber” on the facade is very similar to some of the fake tudor houses in Shanghai. The row of houses always reminded me of the row of houses located on 1292 Avenue Joffre (today HuaiHai Lu) near the corner with Xinhua lu (picture left)

Huai Hai Lu houses
Huai Hai Lu houses

These are houses of a style prior to art deco that is now so famous in Shanghai. This post of like a return to the French origin, like finding the missing link between France and the French Concession of Shanghai. A bit like today, expatriates of the time did all they could to recreate the universe where they came from. Similarly, companies created for the foreign expatriates, houses that were a little part of their country right in Shanghai. Just like the buildings on the Bund in the International Settlement look like buildings in London, some of the houses in the French Concession were similar to houses in France or in Europe.  The mix of the various style and influence made Shanghai a unique city in Asia and the world. It is still visible today.

3 thoughts on “Home sweet home”

  1. Bonjour Hugues,
    toujours trés agréable de recevoir tes articles

  2. hey friend,

    really miss you. always enjoy your posts!!! Also, remember when you used to send such things in an email — you practically invented blogging! miss you — come see me in SF any time


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