Tianzifang

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A shikumen lane in Tianzi Fang, with houses now converted into shops, studios, cafes and bars. Shanghai Tianzifang Shang Hai Tian Zi Fang  - panoramio.jpg
A shikumen lane in Tianzi Fang, with houses now converted into shops, studios, cafes and bars.

Tianzifang or Tianzi Fang (Chinese :田子坊; pinyin :Tiánzǐ Fāng; Shanghainese: Deedzɿ Fãː) is a touristic arts and crafts enclave that has developed from a renovated traditional residential area in the French Concession area of Shanghai. [1] It is now home to boutique shops, bars and restaurants.

Chinese language family of languages

Chinese is a group of related, but in many cases not mutually intelligible, language varieties, forming the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the Han majority and many minority ethnic groups in China. About 1.2 billion people speak some form of Chinese as their first language.

Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.

The Shanghainese language, also known as the Shanghai dialect, Hu language or Hu dialect, is a variety of Wu Chinese spoken in the central districts of the City of Shanghai and its surrounding areas. It is classified as part of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Shanghainese, like other Wu variants, is mutually unintelligible with other varieties of Chinese, such as Mandarin.

Contents

Overview

The district comprises a neighborhood of labyrinthine alleyways off Taikang Road (Chinese :泰康路; pinyin :Tàikāng Lù), a short street which is today mostly known only for Tianzi Fang. Tianzi Fang is known for small craft stores, coffee shops, trendy art studios and narrow alleys. It has become a popular tourist destination in Shanghai, and an example of preservation of local Shikumen architecture. It is sometimes compared to Xintiandi, though in the latter precinct most of the houses were demolished and rebuilt, rather than renovated. [2]

Shikumen

Shikumen is a traditional Shanghainese architectural style combining Western and Chinese elements that first appeared in the 1860s. At the height of their popularity, there were 9000 shikumen-style buildings in Shanghai, comprising 60% of the total housing stock of the city, but today the proportion is much lower as most Shanghainese live in large apartment buildings. Shikumen is classified as one type of lilong residences, sometimes translated as "lane houses" in English.

Xintiandi neighborhood

Xintiandi is an affluent car-free shopping, eating and entertainment district of Shanghai.

Tianzi Fang is largely hidden from the neighbouring streets, as it grew from the inside of the block outward, although there are now shops on Taikang Road itself. Historically Lane #248 was a key entrance that, in order to gain access to the commercially developed area, required walking about 50m through whilst be surrounded by local residents' life, including bicycles, hanging laundry, etc. until finally emerging in the 'new' area. [3]

History

The neighborhood centres on a block of Shikumen residential development dating from 1933. The shikumen complex was named "Zhicheng Fang", where "Zhicheng" meant "realisation of ambition" while "Fang" meant "neighbourhood" and was a common suffix for shikumen estates. Today's Tianzi Fang precinct covers not only the former Zhicheng Fang, but also other adjoining houses, apartments and industrial buildings of various styles.

Located near the eastern end of the Zhaojiabang canal and the southern edge of the Shanghai French Concession, it was in the relatively downmarket part of the Concession. In 1954, the canal was filled in and the former canal basin became a busy transport interchange. Zhicheng Fang remained an ordinary residential neighbourhood until the last quarter of the 20th century, when the cheap rent but convenient location attracted artists to set up studios there. In 1998, the formerly busy wet market on Taikang Road was moved indoors. In 2001, the precinct was redesignated an artistic and creative quarter, drawing on its former popularity with artists. At the same time, the whole precinct was given the name "Tianzi Fang", a pun on Tian Zifang, a figure from the Warring States period and often referred to as China's earliest recorded artist. In 2006 it was slated for demolition to make way for redevelopment. Opposition among local business owners and residents, as well as a famous artist Chen Yifei who had a studio in Tianzifang, in addition to a group submitted a proposal to the local government to preserve the Taikang Road area and its traditional architecture and ambience.

Shanghai French Concession French sphere of influence in Shanghai, China

The Shanghai French Concession was a foreign concession in Shanghai, China from 1849 until 1943, which progressively expanded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The concession came to an end in 1943 when the French State under German pressure signed it over to the pro-Japanese Reorganized National Government of China in Nanjing. For much of the 20th century, the area covered by the former French Concession remained the premier residential and retail district of Shanghai, and was also one of the centres of Catholicism in China. Despite re-development over the last few decades, the area retains a distinct character, and is a popular tourist destination.

Warring States period era in ancient Chinese history

The Warring States period was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period and concluded with the Qin wars of conquest that saw the annexation of all other contender states, which ultimately led to the Qin state's victory in 221 BC as the first unified Chinese empire, known as the Qin dynasty.

Chen Yifei was a renowned Chinese classic-style painter, art director and film director.

Rezoning of Tianzi Fang into a tourist precinct began in 2005/2006 with nearby art schools and studios, and later small international business owners found out about Tianzi Fang through the local grapevine. Its development began very slowly with local merchants, a New Zealand store, Japanese restaurants, and a tea house setting up in the district. From the beginning of 2007, journalists, visitors and local residents began to visit the area and spread the word about a cosy little lane district that housed some interesting and creative businesses. Additional articles in both local and foreign media such as the New York Times helped increase awareness of this older and unusual community, that stood out among the more modern and commercial shopping areas of Shanghai.

Today

Tianzifang has become a major tourist attraction [1] and has more than 200 diverse small businesses such as cafes, bars, restaurants, art galleries, craft stores, design houses and studios, and even French bistros. It is adjacent to the SML center which is among the largest shopping malls in Shanghai upon completion. It is also near the Shanghai Metro Line 9's Dapuqiao Station which is immediately to the south.

Despite all the businesses selling trendy craft and some foreign goods, the area does not have the look of having been overly beautified - electricity cables are still strung overhead, and air conditioning units are obvious on the outside of the buildings. The district is distinctly different from Xintiandi, another Shikumen redevelopment in central Shanghai further to the northeast, in that it has managed to preserve its residential feel, adding to its appeal.

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 Pitts, Christopher (April 2013). "Top Sights: Tianzifang". Pocket Shanghai (3rd ed.). Lonely Planet. pp. 58–59. ISBN   978-1-74179-963-7.
  2. "Rising Taikanglu". China Daily.
  3. Yang, Andrew (2007-03-04). "A High-Fashion Lane in Shanghai". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-24.

Coordinates: 31°12′36″N121°27′53″E / 31.210011°N 121.464668°E / 31.210011; 121.464668