张园: 典型的老上海里弄风情 Old Shanghai, China: Historical Zhang Yuan (a.k.a Zhang's Garden) with vanishing architecture
你可以没有听说过 “张园”，但也无法改变这是个有历史，有故事的地方。张园虽然就位在上海最热闹的南京西路站旁，但却很少有人关注，相当可惜。这里浓缩了百余年的兴衰变迁。如今的张园，有 108 幢房屋，是上海种类最丰富、保存最完整的石库门建筑群。由于至今还有大量居民居住，充分的 “人气” 也让它的生命力至今流传。
Shikumen (which refers to an endangered form of architecture and city planning. Brick buildings within alley complexes fronted by a stone-framed kumen or gateway), is a style of housing unique to Shanghai, as it blends the Chinese and Western architectural styles. Shikumen, which are two or three-storey townhouses, have a front yard that is enclosed by a high brick wall. At one time, Shikumen-style neighborhoods accounted for more than 60 percent of the housing in the city.
Since the 1990s, many shikumen-style neighborhoods have been demolished to build new residential or commercial buildings. It wasn't until many of the houses were replaced by skyscrapers that residents began to realize such monuments of Shanghai's past deserved to be preserved. If you want to see what a typical shikumen is like, you'd better hurry.
Lets us now step inside a traditional shikumen-style house to discover the authentic Shanghainese way of life. I had the rare opportunity to actually walk through one of these Shikumen houses - Zhang Yuan (also known as Zhang's Garden), which was quite an interesting experience. This is an iconic place in Shanghai.
Modernity seemingly stops at the entrance to Zhang Yuan. This rustic entrance lies a completely different world in a bustling Shanghai.
The condominium towers that are replacing them, where next-door neighbours remain strangers, are breeding nothing but isolation.
As I walked among these compact and often crowded homes, I saw distinct shikumen details, which include stone arches at entrance to lanes, carved wooden doors on some houses and the occasional art deco influence on various buildings.
Equally as fascinating is simply being witness to daily street life in this private housing estate.
The homes are at least a century old, and that the living conditions are poor.
Half of Zhang's Garden is now under heritage protection, yet elsewhere the city's shikumen are fast being swallowed up by the relentless tide of redevelopment. There aren't many shikumen houses left in the city. Those that remain are the living fossil of life in Shanghai.
I'm extremely grateful to had the chance to venture into this area to sample the undiluted atmosphere of an ancient Shanghai before it disappears forever.
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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