Shanghai: From Foreign Settlements to Global Financial Capital: A Three-Part Course with Bert de Muynck

Shanghai: From Foreign Settlements to Global Financial Capital: A Three-Part Course with Bert de Muynck


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The city of Shanghai is the epitome of China's urban, architectural, and cultural modernization, of the interaction between Western and Eastern cultures and of the absorption of modern and traditional building techniques. This all leads to a constant drive for innovation in construction techniques, exemplary in many of the buildings situated along its iconic Bund, the garden-like Former French Concession, or the international Pudong Financial District. This course looks at the development of the city, highlights the city's local and foreign architects and real-estate developers’ ambitions in the 1920s and 1930s, leading up to China's governments and local and foreign architects' radical transformation of the city since the mid-1980s.

In this three-part course, Bert de Muynck will explain the motives, ideas, thoughts, and realization of its urban and architectural growth throughout the past two centuries. Starting with a brief introduction to the origins of Shanghai as a small fishing village, the lecture focuses on the city's growth since the 1840s, it's heyday as an Art Deco capital in the 1920s and 1930s in its French and International Concession - spearheaded by the legendary sir Victor Sassoon and his Peace Hotel on the Bund - towards the building of China's and the world's financial capital from the 1980s onwards, and its emblematic radiating skyline of Pudong, culminating in the construction of the 121-story tall 2016 Shanghai Tower.

 

Lecture 1: The Opium Wars: The Treaty of Nanjing and the Constructions of Concessions (1830-1930)

The growth of Shanghai as a city of international reputation is the direct result of foreign nations’ ambitions to have a foothold in China at the beginning of the 19th century. Following the Opium War (1839-42), The Treaty of Nanjing (1842) led to the establishment of the British (later International) and the French Concession, booming along with an existing Chinese city. This lecture discusses the astonishing rise and growth of Shanghai as an international port, characterized by classical financial buildings (along the Bund) and art deco hotels, cinemas, and villas in the Former French Concession.

Lecture 2: Shanghai in transition: From Art Deco to Communist Deco (1930-1985)

At the end of the 1920s and throughout 1930s Shanghai emerged as a world city, characterized by elegance (spearheaded by Victor Sassoons’ Peace Hotel), conflict (the Japanese bombing of Shanghai at the end of the 1930s) and culture (movies, publications). Perceived as a city that had succumbed to the vices of capitalism and internationalism, Shanghai, after 1949, become remodeled as a city of production within a bigger scheme of communist-driven city remodeling.

Lecture 3: Shanghai as a Global City (1985-2020)

From the middle of the 1980s onwards, Shanghai sought to regain its international reputation as a city of international finance, a place where East meets West. A new beginning was made in the Pudong district (located opposite of The Bund); in 35 years, an astounding number of iconic skyscrapers (Shanghai Pearl TV Tower, Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai Tower) were build. This lecture discusses the metropolitan and architectural growth of Shanghai at the beginning of the 21st century, including an in-depth focus on the architecture of Expo 2010 Shanghai China and the establishment of the West Bund Art District (2010-20).

Bert is an architect and writer and holds MAs in architectural engineering (Catholic University Leuven, Belgium) and cultural sciences (Free University Brussels). Born in Belgium, in the past decade he has lived and worked in architectural consultancy, writing, and academia in Amsterdam, Beijing, Shanghai, and now Lisbon, where he relocated in 2018. He is the co-director of "MovingCities", an independent research organization investigating the role that architecture and urbanism play in shaping the contemporary city. Bert lived in China from 2006 to 2018, where he held academic positions at The University of Hong Kong (2011-14), China Academy of Art (2013-16), and Xian Liverpool University (2015-18). He has been a Context expert since 2013 (Shanghai and Lisbon) focusing on architectural and urban history and development. He is a prolific writer and public speaker in the field of architecture, urbanism, and culture.

 

How does it work?

This is a three-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background in architecture and urban planning, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $105 for three lectures.

Is a recording available?

In general, our courses are not recorded. However, if you need to miss a lecture please let us know in advance and we can arrange for a recording for that session on an individual basis.

This course is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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