For many, Shanghai can be an overwhelming stew of cars, crowds, and construction noise, which is why the serenity and industrial cool of the 1933 complex is so refreshing. We’ve covered 1933 and its artsy shenanigans before, but it’s worth revisiting the place that might provide us sanctuary for the next 20 years – or be shut down tomorrow.
Originally built in 1933, and refurbished in 2007, the former slaughterhouse is a purported “creative f&a” (food and art) space that wanted to encourage, ahem, “a higher awareness of the fullness of life, underpinned by a refined appreciation for beauty, art and culture.”
To that end, the complex is currently made up of an eclectic mix of restaurants, stores, galleries, and offices. It has a somewhat spotty history of actually being open (Factory, part of the same space but in an adjacent building, closed in October 2009 and wasn’t revived). Although some of the brains behind it include the same folks behind Three on the Bund, there have been rumors of mismanagement. Empty units abound in its many nooks and crannies.
Still, it is still marching on, and yes, it is currently open to the public. Go, if only for the architecture of the place – a modernist slaughterhouse curio that Paul French has called “far in advance of anything Europe had at the time.” The four-story structure retains the labyrinthine soul of its previous incarnation; the soaring cattle pathways and escape stairwells make for cool, languid walks. The top floor offers some nice if obstructed views of Hongkou. We had the place to ourselves, apart from a few couples taking wedding pictures and some aspiring photographers.
Though consumer outlets are somewhat sparse, there are a few more options for food and fun since our last coverage of the place: the Jade Garden and Noodle Bull are there, and they make for stylish dining. The Jade Garden, for one, is fitted with molten-lava-like light fixtures. Pin Wei, a museum-like store on the second floor, features clever designs from local designers.
The 1933 complex also has a history of great art and music events, intersected by corporate flings (there was an Audi marketing show while we were there, complete with techno music). Previous offering included an MTV Raps retrospective, and a “Too Many Chefs night,” which featured ten chefs preparing what they would eat if they it were their last meal.
Hopefully, there will be future proceedings to keep you updated on. Until then, event or no event, 1933 is there for your own exploration.
Building 4, 1933 Creative Complex
(nearest metro- HaiLun Lu on line 4)
29 Shajing Lu, near Haining Lu