Right next to my apartment lies the old (by Shanghai standards) Cite Bourgogne Shikumen housing complex. While most of Shanghai (and China) is in the throes of an intense out with the old , modernization drive , these old Shikumen buildings are still going strong. Beijing has been destroying it’s old Hutong (traditional housing in small alleyways) by the thousands in favor of tall modern apartment buildings and Shanghai is also definitely not a stranger to the cranes.
The Cite Bourgogne , its French name , or the Bu Gao Li (Chinese name) was built-in 1930 on the corner of South Shaanxi Rd and JianGuo Xi Rd when they were known as Avenue du Roi Albert and J. Frelupt, Route . (Remember this is former French Concession!)
Taking a stroll through this relatively small complex is like a trip back in time. Seeing the narrow alleyways in between the solid red-brick wall-to-wall 3 story buildings is quite different from the new 30 story concrete monsters rising into the sky in the rest of Shanghai. Here the old folks go about their day , shuffling slowly through the lanes with a sack of vegetables , the grandpa riding his bicycle at just a fraction faster than walking speed rings his bell to get you out the way , and clothes hang out in the sun trying to dry out in the intense summer humidity.
I like to try to get a glimpse of the housing interiors when the doors are left open. I feel a bit odd straining my neck to try to get a peek inside of the houses when people leave the doors open , but come on! , I’m curious. Some of the housing seems to have been declining since the time it was built with dirty cement floors and junk packratted away. Others though , appear gorgeous and gleaming inside and make me really wonder what the other two floors are like.
Given a choice between the old style Shikumen housing and the new towering apartment buildings I think I would go for the old. However , I do so love the amazing view of the city one can get from way up high. (One of the things I really miss from my previous 28th story pad.
How about you readers? Old or the New? Which one to choose?!?