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December 15, 2009

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Recognition for a Huaihai gem

HUAI Hai Lu 796, a historical property on Huaihai Road M., has won the Award of Merit in the 2009 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation.

An award ceremony was held in the city yesterday.

Built in the 1920s, the group of elegant neo-classic mansions had been the residence of a Shanghai foreign-commerce agent and were later adapted to be the offices of many state-owned companies.

In 2007, Richemont Group, working with the architectural firm Kokaistudios, renovated the buildings into retail stores of British fashion house Alfred Dunhill and Swiss high-end watchmaker Vacheron Constantin, as well as a membership-only club, KEE, and Shanghai's leading contemporary art gallery, ShanghART.

With such tenants, the site has become one of the city's luxurious landmarks.

"As a heritage landmark in one of Shanghai's main commercial districts, the neoclassical villas of Huai Hai Lu 796 are an excellent example of a historic building complex transforming and adjusting to modern uses and finding a way to have an ongoing life in the community," said Beatrice Kaldun, program specialist for culture at UNESCO's Beijing office.

Each year, five kinds of awards are given to one or several sites in recognition of efforts in preserving and restoring historical architecture in the Asia-Pacific region, Kaldun said. Forty-eight entries from 14 countries and regions applied for the awards this year.

Bund 18, another piece of Shanghai history along the Bund, won the Award of Distinction in 2006.


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