Tianzifang is the part of Shanghai we’re going to tell you about in this article. It’s a small district situated in the former huge French Concession in Shanghai. The French Concession spreads to the north \ east part of Xuhui district. At the beginning of the twentieth century, it became a rich, residential area. Situated in the Taikang Road near Dapu Bridge, Tianzifang District is home of handicraft shops, coffee shops ,and art galleries, it’s recently become an amazing destination for passing by tourists, with more than 200 small commercial locals ( coffee shops, bars , restaurants of various nationalities, art galleries, handicraft shops). It also represents an important meeting point.

The main feature is that , even if it ‘s home for Trendy , fashion shops, the area is not radically changed, despite , such a great number of new arrivals, , walking across it you can feel a sort of old fashion , free range mood that deserves it from the wrong information as for other city districts.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, the French consul in Shanghai, Charles De Montigny gained a city area from the Shanghai Governor. This concession , become effective on 6th April 1849, officially ended in 1943 due to Vichy Government that gave both the territory and rights to the upsetting Nanjing Fili Japanese government. In the end , in 1946 France stipulated an accordance with the Chinese Government which with he agreed to renounce to this and other concessions gained iall over the Chinese Area, in exchange , he got the withdrawal of the Chinese Army from French Indo – China.

he district is characterized by narrows, and almost buildings built in the local style, the Shikumen. This term referres to a traditional architectural style presenting a mixture of oriental and western elements dating back to the end of the nineteenth century. They’re usually close buildings on 2 or 3 floors , situated in narrows called Longtang, they usually have an inside yard.

There are several traditional clothes and material shops. Also typical objects made by the local artisans. The main Street in the district is Taikang Road , where you can find the most important concentration of Art Studies, scholars and art galleries. At number 210 , you can findthe Deke Erh Art Center, opened by the artist.

At the end of the twentieth century,, in fact, several important Chinese artistslike Wang Jiajun and Er Dongqiang, opened their activity and study in Tianzifang, that , for this reason, became a fundamental referring point in Shanghai for artists, scholars and contemporary art lovers. Most of the art studies in this magnificent and suggestive district are the result of an a decommissioned factories’ restoration. For instance, Chengdu Factory, a huge factory, has been turned into a place for artists coming from all over the world.

It’s also possible to visit the Zheng Wei (the famous ceramic artist from Hong Kong), “Le Tiantao” ceramic studio at 220 Taikang Road. His studio , not only hosts his works, there are also exhibitions that attracts ceramic lovers from all over the world.

The district is almost inhabited by artists , among them: Chen Yifei ( one of the most important contemporary artist , he’s a referring figure for oil painting), when he moved to the district, he got two large abandoned premises in Taikang Road, retraining them intoArt Studios. At the beginning of the new millennium, thanks to artists like Chen Yifei, lots of reporters, historics, artists, became interested in this area creating the right conditions , through a better awareness, making the district one of the most visited areas in Shanghai.

By the way, at the beginning of the new millennium, this district risked demolition in 2005 to give advantage to retraining projects as it happened for lots of the city area. But this intent was strongly opposed by many residents and most of all from the artists , among them, Chen Yifei , who had made the district, their home. They won the protest and saved the district, protecting the old , medieval Shanghai remaining mood. The district is reachable by line 9 underground, exit 1 (Dapiqiao).

Traduzione a cura di Antonella De Santis

Delia Giangregorio
Autrice delle fotografie

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