优 秀 历 史 建 筑       制 图 上 海 记 忆 中 的 主 观 地 标 。

H E R I T A G E   A R C H I T E C T U R E

Mapping subjective landmarks in the city of Shanghai

During a period of three months, I interviewed a group of local people in Shanghai about personal points of reference in relation to the city and their memories. For each person, I created a series of metal plaques that depict their stories, memories, conflicts and desires with regard to the place where they live.

The engraved metal plaques have QR codes that can be scanned with a cell phone or any device, and link to a video hosted on the Internet where it is possible to watch parts of the interviews and scenes from the city related to each person and story.

16 plaques were placed in the city of Shanghai, bringing personal memories to public space.

A publication accompanies the projects documenting the locations where the plaques were placed, the stories, photos and QR codes to watch the videos online. 80 pages, English and Chinese, 16 x 23 cm.

Shanghai, China.

张   军   伟

D A V I D       Z H A N

David Zhang was born and raised in Chang Zhou, Jiangsu province. As a child, because his relatives lived in Xie Tu Road and around the Old Docks, he would visit Shanghai during the weekends and holidays, so the city always felt like a second home to him.

He recalls how the buildings and the architecture of Shanghai was the most impressive thing to him as a child. David has a lot of memories about the little alley where he used to live while visiting his aunts. He remembers playing glass marbles and spinning tops in Xie Tu Road with his friends. Everybody was very close, all neighbours knew one another, and if someone was cooking, others would be able to smell it so they would eat together… it was very, very intimate. Nowadays, you don’t even know who lives next to you. All those little alleys in Xie Tu Road don't exist anymore, new buildings have been built instead.

During the Cultural Revolution, kids were sent to work at farms and factories, but David tried really hard to continue painting, even during tough times, because he loved painting so much.

David now lives and works in Shanghai as a painter. He sometimes comes back to the Old Docks to take photos to use them as inspiration for his paintings. He thinks the area is going to disappear very soon.


Mei is originally from Chongqing. She moved to Hubei Province when she was four years old and came to Shanghai to study Maritime Law at the University in 1999. She didn’t quite like the city at the beginning because she thought Shanghainese were a little bit arrogant, especially with people from the countryside.

After graduating, Mei started working for an International shipping company and in 2005 she started her own business with only three people; by 2007 they were more than 30. She recalls how the shipping logistic business boomed in China and the speed of those days in her company, located in the Rongxin building on North Sichuan Road: “We worked like crazy, we barely slept…” Mei did really well and decided to retire very young. With the money from her retirement she set up a nice and cozy coffee shop named “Heaven to earth” located in a charming alley of Shikumen Lilong Residencies from the Japanese Concession times, near the Lu Xun Park. “Shikumen architecture is gradually disappearing due to the crazy city development. Before the Cultural Revolution, each of these three story buildings belonged to just one family, but then the government divided the properties and many families started living in the same house. Now mostly old people who inherited those buildings live here. I really like this place, it is resisting to keep from vanishing.”

In 2011 Mei applied for immigration to Canada and she is still waiting, but now she thinks that even if she gets the visa she will stay here. 

王 家 安

W A N G   J I A   A N

Wang Jia An was born and raised in Shanghai. He’s now retired and often goes to the Shanghai Marriage Market at People’s Park on Saturday afternoons, where parents try to find a suitable partner for their unmarried adult children. Mr Wang is divorced and he’s also looking for someone special there: “Shanghai is very noisy, and there are so many people. However, it’s not easy to find someone in this city”.

He remembers that over thirty years ago, many couples used to go to The Bund for dating or to find a partner, because at that time there was no other form of entertainment. “Now the city is changing too fast for anyone to comprehend what is being lost. The process of development is very painful when you have lived your whole life in this city; you can see your home being torn down in just a couple of hours. Most of the Japanese-style apartment houses in which I was born were demolished during the 80’s. We used to have small courtyards with a huge variety of flowers where chickens and ducks were raised.”

“It’s hard to remember sometimes, my father joined the National Party and we suffered a lot during the Cultural Revolution. I was sent to work in a factory when I was in primary school and my sister was sent to the countryside; no one finished university in those times.”

Mr Wang has recently retired and he’s selling his apartment and learning to drive. He wants to go to Europe and maybe find someone special.

任 亚 峰

R E N    Y A F E N G

Ren Yafeng moved to Shanghai in 1990 from Taixing, Jiangsu Province. He recalls his time spent at the Yinghua Dujiacun Hotel upon arriving in Shanghai: “Everything was so elegant and people dressed so distinguished…the suits, the hats, the dresses; that’s how I decided to become a tailor”. Soon after he moved to Chang Ning Lu where he and his colleagues established their first store. Their original store no longer exists, however, due to the redevelopment of the area. Chang Ning Lu, once a suburb, is now filled with buildings and lots of foreigners.

He remembers his childhood in the countryside where the river was clean and how he would fish there. But now, because of the pollution, that landscape only exists in his memory and the fish are no longer in the river. He hopes this situation will improve in the future, but there are not many environmental policies to change that.

He also remembers the time when foreigners didn’t bargain for prices, but now some strange force might be informing them and they bargain a lot. He prefers the old times, but does like the new customers.

Mr. Ren currently works as a tailor at Shanghai ShiLiu Pu Marke. He has worked there for eight years and has his own store called Renshifushi. He is kind and makes the most elegant suits.

任 祐 澍

R O G E R   

Roger was born and raised in Shanghai. He grew up where the Bund Centre stands now, which used to be a residential building. He had to move out from this apartment with his family in 1997 to the suburbs of Shanghai; it was the time when the government started the reconstruction period and most of the people living in the Bund area had to be relocated outside the city centre.

“This is the story of the last twenty years…the city development was ferocious; the government rebuilt the whole city centre and moved us all out to new buildings in the suburbs.”

When Roger was a young boy he had lots of friends living in the same block, and they used to play football in the street. “Nowadays you don’t see this in the city, kids stay inside the apartments playing with their phones. We used to have our own world in just one block: the junior school was around the corner, everybody knew each other and we were a big community of neighbours. It seems that we don’t have neighbours anymore. I remember that one friend from a wealthier background had a video game at home, so we went to play there sometimes, but most of the time we were in the street.”

“I was born and grew up in The Bund area and now I work here, so this is a place in the city that I really have ties with. I recall looking at Pudong from this side of the Huangpu River and there was nothing there; you could only see the countryside and farmers working the land.”

Roger now works as a Chief Concierge at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel located in The Bund. Even though the whole area has changed greatly, he can still identify the different layers of memories that overlap. He plays football with his colleagues once a week at the Shanghai Public Stadium.

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