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Architect leaves enduring legacy

SHANGHAI entered its period of modernization in the 1920s. Many international trends, especially in architecture, tended to converge in the city.

The 1920s through 1940s were prosperous decades for the city, with modern, inspiring buildings sprouting up, dominated by the inspired designs of L. E. Hudec. From this prolific Hungarian architect's various works, one can see how international ideas and trends helped shape the city.

In 1925, Hudec opened his own architecture office and his prolific career started. His clients included the expatriate community and the new Chinese administration and bourgeoisie. The architect's most productive period continued until 1937, during which he built numerous Art Deco and modern public and private structures. The buildings he designed include hotels, banks, cinemas, churches, hospitals and private residences.

Last week we highlighted three of Hudec's masterpieces: Park Hotel, the Grand Theater and Mu En Church around People's Square. There are more architectural gems that reflect Hudec's design style. This week three residential buildings that vary in style from classical to Art Deco and modern are featured. They are all worthy of a visit because visitors can still discern the hallmarks of a master who helped shape the face of Shanghai back in the 1930s.

Subtle, simple Tudorbethan villa - Former resdidence of Hudec

In 1930, L. E. Hudec built this low-key, comfortable Tudorbethan three-story villa on Panyu Road. He later moved in with his wife and three children. It was their second residence in Shanghai. They lived here from 1931 to 1936 and later moved to Hubertus Court (Da Hua Hotel) on Yan'an Road W. The villa was later rented to the Consul General of Germany as an official residence. After 1949, the house was used by a middle school and it currently belongs to the Changning District Education Bureau. The residence was part of Columbia Circle, an up-scale residential area for foreigners seeking respite. Columbia Circle, today known as "Foreign Lane,'' was one of Hudec's famous projects. He designed villas in different styles including Italian, Spanish, Dutch and American.

Address: 129 Panyu Rd

Apartments for the rich and famous - Normandie Building

Designed by L.E. Hudec in 1923 and constructed in 1924, the Normandie Building is a grand example of Neoclassical architecture inspired by the French Renaissance period.

The red brick apartment building is particularly striking in its entirety. Over the years the lower two levels with a composite facade have been repeatedly repainted in colors including gray, white and even sky blue.

A historically accurate renovation was completed before the World Expo 2010. The revamp uncovered a textured granite-chip facade on the first two floors while the marble lobby was returned to its original creamy-gold.

Famous film directors and actors of the 1940s, including Zhao Dan, Zheng Junli and Wang Renmei, once lived there.

Address: 1836-1858 Huaihai Rd M. Luxury home in ultra-modern setting - Former residence of Wu Tongwen

Commonly known as "the green house,'' this residence for D. V. Woo (Wu Tongwen), "the pigment magnate'' in old Shanghai, was a superb example of an ultramodern design.

Covering more than 2,000 square meters of building area, the four-story reinforced concrete structure was covered in green tiles and completed in 1938. It is characterized by sleek modern lines, graceful curves and a simple design of the facade.

There were rooms for different functions such as a ballroom, a banquet hall, a billiard room, a chess room and a bar. It was also one of the few private homes in the city to have an elevator at the time.

Among numerous dwellings Hudec designed, this ultramodern residence on the corner of Beijing and Tongren roads is the most outstanding. It was once considered the most luxurious home in the Far East, according to a special report published in an English-language newspaper in 1939.

Address: 333 Tongren Rd


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