Lost in Tianzifang

08:25, January 19, 2011      

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Known as a factory-converted art street, Tianzifang is not a well-preserved commercial street or factory zone, yet it is regarded as an Eden for Shanghai's visual and innovation industries.

If it were not for my friends in Shanghai, I would not have visited Tianzifang situated on bustling Taikang Road in a typical Shanghai "shikumen." Known as a factory-converted art street, Tianzifang is not a well-preserved commercial street or factory zone, yet it is regarded as an Eden for Shanghai's visual and innovation industries.

My friend told me that Taikang Road used to be packed with markets, small factories, and warehouses in a "shikumen," or traditional residential quadrangle with a stone-ringed door. But today the building complex has been transformed into an artistic complex after a culture company moved here in 1998 followed by several workshops and artists. The once abandoned factory zone has been drawing crowds of fashionistas, designers and expatriates to explore this hidden treasure ever since.

We spent the whole afternoon sauntering through the mazelike lane, lingering in trendy haute boutiques, art workshops, teahouses, fashionable cafés and bars, theme restaurants and international art galleries. It was difficult to find any similarities among them, since innovation seemed to be their priority.

Uniqueness was never lacking in Tianzifang. Walking down the lane, I was attracted by homemade mugs, small crafts made with love and T-shirts printed with unforgettable childhood memories as well as different workshops. But I didn't find anything that was repeated.

Compared to Shanghai's Xintiandi area, which is imbued with 21st century lifestyles, Tianzifang is, in my eyes, more Shanghaiese, nostalgic, historic and unexpected, and offers tourists sweet memories of the past.

I stayed in Tianzifang for only one afternoon. If time had allowed, I would have definitely returned to sip a cup of handmade coffee, chat with shop owners, wonder around in boutiques, and get lost in the shikumen's architectural maze.

Address:On Lane 210, Taikang Road

How to get there:

Bus: From Jianguo West Road, take buses 24 or 96; from Shannxi South Road, take buses 17, 41, 146 or 786

From Chongqing South Road, take Daqiao Line 1, bus 36, tunnel line 8, or buses 899, 986, 932, 786, 933 or 36;

subway: line 9, Dapu Road, exit 3.

Source: CRIENGLISH.com
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http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90782/7265025.pdf