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A balance between tradition and development

It is a dilemma of many developing cities: preserving the old and bringing in the new, especially when it comes to residential buildings. Across China, high rises stand where traditional residences once were. Shikumen in Shanghai is one example of a traditional architectural style, combining western and Chinese elements.

A Chinese-style roof and a French name.

This residential community named Cité Bourgogne or Bugaoli is 85 years old. It represents the myriad influences in this multicultural metropolis which are now disappearing.

79-year-old Zhu Lianjuan has lived in this neighborhood since she was only ten months old.

“It’s raining! raining! I always shout like this when it is raining to remind my neighbors that it is time to take the clothes hanging out to dry inside. This is just one small example, we share good relationships that you can’t compare with in new residential buildings,” Zhu said.

“We renovated the rooms several years ago. One of my daughters is still living here. This is a photo of her when she was young. We took it in front of the same gate as today. It hasn’t changed much and we are still here,” Zhu said.

By making businesses widespread in the community, this area, Tianzifang has upgraded itself to a popular tourist destination. It is considered a success of balancing preservation and development.

“Those examples of preservation are unique and I don’t think they are duplicable. The reason that has led to demolition of old houses is the poor city planning. Think about it, what would it look like if the Huangpu River separates the old part of the city and the new one?” said Lou Chenghao from Shanghai Shikumen Research Center.

Shanghai is known as the Paris in the East. But in comparison to Paris, it is a picture of modernity.

Paris takes huge efforts to preserve its old buildings and make them functional. Taking a leaf out of Paris’ book not only keeps alive the memories of older generations, but also maintains the image of the city for future generations.