One of most delightful places in Shanghai by far is Moganshan Lu, otherwise known as the M50 galleries. This mini-neighborhood found near Suzhou Creek (and has it’s own Wikipedia Page) is a collection of independent shops, galleries and studios occupying the twisting alleys of what used to be the old Chunming Mill. In the early 2000’s, the cheap rent and large spaces began to draw artists into the area, transforming what used to be crumbling, dilapidated buildings into anything from tiny pottery and craft workshops to massive exhibition spaces. The majority of the buildings proudly display the original bare bones architecture and structure, providing the entire area with the sort of tectonic, industrial aesthetic that is now widely appreciated, and is, ironically, replicated and recreated in many places that lack such authentic and historical buildings. There is also a smattering of new spaces and modern facades, integrated seamlessly into the surroundings to offer a perfect balance of new and old. It’s a shame that this type of redevelopment isn’t more widely embraced in China, where old buildings are typically just torn down to make way for flimsy condos and gaudy mega-malls.
My favorite exhibition was the playful, dynamic photography of German artist Martin Klimas which you can read more about here.
There were so many galleries and exhibits that in a few hours we still hadn’t seen them all…I can’t wait to go back! This place serves as an extraordinary precedent for urban redevelopment and building re-use. Defnitely check it out.