The story appears on

Page C5

February 3, 2010

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature

From abattoir to artistic hub

A gem of Art Deco industrial design and art has become arts and lifestyle hub 1933 Millfun. It is a visual experience like no other and is so stunning that commercial photography is banned. Dong Jing visits.

One of the city's most spectacular creative hubs is the domed Art Deco former slaughterhouse, at one time the biggest abattoir in East Asia.

Today the architecturally breathtaking structure is 1933 Old Millfun near the Bund in Hongkou District. Built in 1933, it is a prime example of early industrial art and architecture.

Visiting is a visual experience like no other in Shanghai's heritage architecture. It is a magnet for photographers - but no commercial photography is allowed. Anyone with a camera larger than a compact digital must register.

The 1933 Millfun is a place for high-end (as well as affordable and trendy) design, arts, dining, entertainment, shopping and general inspiration.

The curved structure's facade is decorated with dramatic geometric designs. The interior is a labyrinth of concrete interior spirals, bridges, ramps, walkways, hidden staircases, decorated columns and many surprises in an awesome maze.

The open-plan abattoir floor was illuminated by natural light pouring in from an elaborate glass and steel dome.

Today the five-story structure comprised of four buildings is home to design studios, fashion stores, galleries, boutiques, restaurants, cafes and bars, a top-floor theater-in-the-round with a glass-floor stage and other features.

High-end events can be staged there and the idea is definitely to be a cutting-edge magnet for creativity in the North Bund area.

Creative spirits behind the project include Paul Liu, chairman and cofounder of its parent company Axons Concepts, and David Laris, of Laris restaurant at Three on the Bund.

The funicular central building is linked to a square by a striking series of sloping concrete pathways and staircases. "This is the core of the building. Look, how amazing these walkways are!" says Liu, pointing to the tiered, screw-like stairways.

The site includes three other buildings: a long, boxy house originally used as workers' accommodation, a warehouse and a four-story Art Deco power plant with a central chimney that resembles a scaled-down version of London's Tate Modern.

The municipal abattoir was built by two Zhejiang Province businessmen, designed by UK architects and built by a Chinese company with cement imported from the United Kingdom. It was turned into a medicine factory in the 1970s but deteriorated over the years. It was recognized as an historic site for protection in 2005.

Renovation began in 2006 and the cost of restoration to its Art Deco glory was more than 80 million yuan (US$11.73 million).

The buildings are arranged into a square with an inner circle. Four buildings in the four directions constitute the square factory area and are linked to the central 24-sided main building through stairways. Buildings at different heights and spiral galleries are designed as complex.

When fully occupied, 1933 will house design studios, luxury boutiques, restaurants, bars and clubs, artists' guilds, galleries and educational institutions. It will stage high-profile events such as art exhibitions, major fashion shows and theater performances.

The 1933 Old Millfun, with its historical buildings blended with modern elements, has become a new Shanghai landmark. It suggests the fashionable elements of Bund 18, a bit of Xintiandi and creative sensibility of Tian Zi Fang.

The Hongkou District's blueprint includes a 1,600-square-meter plaza, a park, cobblestone walkways, restored canals, beautiful landscaping and preserved traditional neighborhoods.

Admission is free. Photography for commercial purposes is not allowed.

Address: 10 Shajing Rd, near Wusong Rd, Hongkou District

How to get there: Metro Line 4 at Hailun Road Station, Exit 2



Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend