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Luwan to preserve shikumens and build another Xintiandi

SHANGHAI'S Luwan District will redevelop one of its shikumen (stone-gated) neighborhoods into another Xintiandi, the city's popular shopping, eating and entertainment area, within three years, the district's governor said yesterday.

And all the district's more than 2,000 shikumen buildings will be restored.

Some may be turned into business hubs such as Xintiandi, new residential areas such as the Cite Bourgogne community, or business and residential complexes such as Tian Zi Fang on Taikang Road, Governor Weng Zuliang told the first 2010 World Expo Shanghai public forum, which focused on the protection of shikumen buildings.

The district is still deciding where to build the "second Xintiandi" but run-down shikumen neighborhoods near downtown commercial areas that can no longer house residents will be the first choice, Weng said.

Xintiandi and Tian Zi Fang are both renovated old shikumen areas that now house boutique shops and restaurants.

Shikumens that can still be used as residences will be restored like the Cite Bourgogne on Shaanxi Road S, Weng said.

The district will restore the facades, overhaul the plumbing and instal fire-protection systems. Renovations will be completed on 800 shikumens by the end of the year.

Wu Jiang, vice president of the city's Tongji University and an expert on cultural relics, told the forum that Xintiandi, Tian Zi Fang and Cite Bourgogne are the best three examples of restoration solutions for shikumens.

The scholars and government officials released a joint statement at the forum to preserve shikumens and use the buildings to create "greater social and economic benefits." Meanwhile, the Shanghai Shikumen Culture Research Center was established yesterday to publicize the history and culture of the buildings.

The city has also launched a Website ( on shikumen buildings.

Shikumens were initially built in the city as early as 1850s by European colonists in the foreign concessions to rent to Chinese residents.

At one stage, up to 80 percent of the city's population lived in this type of house.

The city government demolished most of the buildings in the early 1990s in its urban construction.


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