People + Places: Discovering Shanghai
From café culture to the surviving neighbourhoods of old Shanghai, Victor Zarnowski’s design influences ignite his imagination. Below, he gives us a look at the most populous city in the world through an architect’s lens.
Starbucks dominates in China with over 3,000 stores. It’s growth reflects the demand for sweet coffee concoctions favoured by the locals. In contrast, there are also places like this ‘hole in the wall’ coffee shop. I have taught the two Taiwanese owners and their baristas how to make a perfect ristretto. I no longer need to return to Melbourne for my coffee hit!
Facing the Sushou Creek in North Shanghai, M50 is the urban ghetto of Shanghai’s art scene, set amongst the backdrop of restored factories and home to the infamous Shanghai graffiti wall. With its alluring collection of modern and contemporary art galleries and artists’ studios, I am slowly running out of wall space to hang new work.
Xintiandi, which means new heaven and earth, is a stylish open-air, shopping and entertainment pedestrian precinct located in the heart of the old French Quarter and developed in the 1990s. It is hugely successful with the tourists and well-to-do Chinese. It’s a pity that the 19th century shikumen style houses on the site had to be demolished completely before being reconstructed in the vaguely historical style
Despite the cranes and bulldozers moving in for the large-scale destruction of old inner city neighbourhoods, which are being replaced by new multi-storey residential compounds, one can still find pockets of the traditional urban core of Shanghai. It reveals a fascinating slice of old Chinese life – winding alleys, roofless houses, small wet markets, washing hung out to dry and stray dogs.
Our Shanghai studio is located in the InterContinental Business Centre in the heart of Jing An’s commercial and business hub. Upstairs, the design magic happens in our contemporary, collaborative studio space. Downstairs, the garden terrace provides an enchanting area for our team and clients to get together and unwind.