Shanghai (1927-1937) / Architectural Style

The Greater Shanghai Plan tried to standardize the architecture form of the Chinese part of Shanghai. Architectures in the city center area especially administration center were the most typical. And the settlement of architecture in the old town also embodied this dominating ideaology.

  1. Buildings in the administration center

The new house of city government was designed of ‘Chinese inherent form’. Horizontally the new government house was devided into three phases. The left and right parts were symmetrical and were lower than the middle part. Vertically it was also devided into three layers. The first layer was a platform. Above the layer was the palatial housing. The roof was on the top. The new government house used post and beam system and gable and hip roof. The tiles on the roof were green glazed tile. The two symmetrical wings were Chinese hipped roof. There were colour painting and decorations on the columns and beams, which were all traditional Chinese style. In structure, the new government house used reinforced concrete as support. In functional setting, it used modern funtion layout which emphasize on practical use. All the doors and windows were vertical. Except the new government house, other government builidngs like the social affairs bureau, the education bureau, the sanitary bureau, the land bureau and the works bureau all abandoned the ‘Chinese inherent form’ and were built as temporary buildings.

The Shanghai Stadium, the Shanghai Library and the Shanghai Museum was examples of neoclassicism architecture.


The Shanghai First Hospital was typical modernism architecture. It is also contructed by reinforced concrete. The facade of the building was very simple and with ternary form in horizontal.

  1. Other Buildings in the City Center Area

The buildings in other parts of city center area were controlled by the government but the architectural style was reletively more free. The new waterwork of Zhabei hydropower company was adopted in traditional Chinese style. The office building was double gable and hip roof. The water tower was five story octagonal tower. The Shanghai First cemetery was adopted in ‘Chinese inherent form’. The gate of it consulted the new government house, using hip and gable roof and half Chinese hipped roof.


  1. The Settlement of Buildings in Old Town

For improving the appearance of the city and its architecture, the works bureau collect schemes from the architects which requires, conforming to the economic condition of Shanghai, paying attention to sanitation and taking advantage of western architecture but not losing eastern feature.

The selected schemes were mostly large depth and narrow bay housing, which used courtyards and gaps for lighting and ventilation. The plan layout was compact. The facade was simple but also with some detail and variation on it. Judging design strategy these civilian residential building did not have much artistic value. But there was great improvement of the new residential buildings in the aspect of sanitary and fireproofing compared with the old shanties in the old town in Shanghai.




Shanghai Shi Zhong Xin Qu Yu Jian She Wei Yuan Hui 上海市中心区域建设委员会, Shanghai Shi Zheng Fu Zheng Qiu Tu An 上海市政府征求图案, 1930

Shi Daoyuan 施道元, Zha Bei Shui Dian Gons Si Xin Shui Chang Jian Zhu Zhi Jing Guo 闸北水电公司新水厂建筑之经过, 1929

Shanghai Shi Gong Wu Ju 上海市工务局, Shanghai Te Bie Shi Gong Wu Ju Ye Wu Bao Gao Di Er Di San Liang Qi He Kan 上海特别市工务局业务报告第二第三两期合刊, 1929

Wei Shu魏枢, <The Greater Shanghai Plan> Qi Shi Lu—Jin Dai Shanghai Hua Jie Du Shi Zhong Xin Kong Jian Xing Tai De Liu Bian《大上海计划》启示录——近代上海华界都市中心空间形态的流变, Southeast University Press 东南大学出版社, 1995

1 Comment on “Shanghai (1927-1937) / Architectural Style

  1. It is interesting to see an attempt of “standardizing” an architectural style to be executed in Shanghai. This reminds me of the idea of bringing the essential architectural elements of Chinese architecture into the design of the new administrative buildings of Beijing, proposed by Liang-sicheng. I wonder if there are more analysis of how that style evolves and what influenced the development of style.

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