13 March 2017

Architectural elements: Shanghai spolia

modular units on display
The last few decades have seen cycles of construction and demolition across the mainland Chinese landscapes. This has been most evident in the cities where many urban and prefectural governments finance their operations by seizing and reseizing properties and leasing to developers for denser, higher priced redevelopment.
Windows and shutters against remnants of courtyard wall
This system creates masses of waste as concrete and brick structures get jackhammered on a large scale to be dwarfed by the new construction projects. Often the bricks get salvaged depending on the speed of demolition; more commonly it's only the rebar that gets extracted and recycled. As I have documented before, some structures built during the early years under Mao Zedong possess enough wood materials to justify prying the materials apart before bringing in the bulldozers. The numbers of such structures is disappearing fast as many cities set upon apartment buildings constructed in the 1980 and 1990s for yet another round of redevelopment.
Garret access ladders, perhaps
It was only happenstance that brought me to a Shanghai construction site where I discovered a very well organized sale of architectural salvage. The existence of such a market, which I have observed nowhere else, demonstrates two points. First, the high standards of construction in Shanghai has deep roots and continues in this manner. Second, and perhaps more importantly, there are active buyers for such salvage within Shanghai. I've talked with several Chinese who don't believe that wood is strong enough to be used to build houses! The buyers coming to this lot understand construction methods that have become obsolete elsewhere and notably value the aesthetics and functionality of these repurposed materials.
Lap joints with traces of plaster

Beaded exposed timbers

I don't know how long this sale had been going on when I stumbled across it. There were bundles of tongue and groove flooring in empty storefronts slated for eventual demolition further up the street. (The interiors were too dim to photograph effectively.)
Stacked newel posts

Pilaster with carved motif, tongue and grooved flooring bundles

It's comforting to documents positive actions such as this. For those interested, the address is 612 Kang Ding lu, Shanghai. Prices are negotiable so act now!
Glazed doors

Was this tenon (drawbore) ever pegged?


Robert Demers said...

Interesting post. Thanks for sharing

Bob and Rudy

Potomacker said...

I'm glad you've found something of interest. Thanks for taking the time to comment