Goodbye Docks! Hello Cool!

As many a mother has said to an upset teenager: if that group needs to call themselves the “cool group”, they obviously aren’t that cool.

With the office moving, I am finding many new places to visit, like the Waterhouse and it’s neighbour Cool Docks.  Or (by its Chinese name) Lao Ma Tou – literally translating as Old Docks.  At least that is just a statement of fact, rather than hopeful marketing spin.

Cool Docks is part of the transformation of the riverfront south of the Bund, until recently packed with docks and cheap worker housing.  Like Xintiandi, Cool Docks is mostly made up of new buildings designed to look like old buildings, full of restaurants, bars and commercial suites – targeted at tourists and expats – arranged around courtyards and laneways …

But I guess you can’t hide everything …

Since opening, Cool Docks has struggled to attract people, possibly because of its relatively remote location and down-at-heel neighbourhood.  Even at lunchtime, you’d be lucky to see a dozen people lurking around.

Perhaps further compounding the limitations of the whole development, is the fact that it doesn’t really connect with the water.  Potential viewlines are blocked by even newer buildings along the waterfront, where ongoing land reclamation is making the disconnect even worse.

And where the view extends to the waterfront, it only reveals one of Shanghai’s key issues.  Most of the time, the level of the river sits above that of the adjacent land (a situation that is worsening through water level rise and the sinking of the land) and thus, most of the riverside is fronted by a protective retaining wall (which is the main function of the Bund).  As a result, from street level, the river is entirely hidden.

As I poked around Cool Docks, I found some buildings that had been spared the developer’s touch (for the time being).  I particularly liked this row of old houses, with their relaxed and lived-in condition standing in contrast to the stark emptiness of the central part of the development.

On each of the doorways, there were remnants of the notices that were used to advise the previous occupants that they were being moved on …

and in some cases, friendly reminders …

but it appeared that some of the houses were still being occupied.  Although, as the property market continues to prosper, I imagine it won’t be for long…

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3 Responses to Goodbye Docks! Hello Cool!

  1. Pingback: My Walk to Work (Version 2) | That Look Crayzy!

  2. Pingback: Exploring Shanghai’s Nether regions | That Look Crayzy!

  3. Pingback: My first year in Shangers | That Look Crayzy!

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