Shanghai | Satellite Scan

Line 6 to Holland Town | Shanghai, December 2011
Line 6 to Holland Town | Shanghai, December 2011

While working on an article, for an upcoming issue of Bauwelt, on the European-themed satellite towns in Shanghai 上海 MovingCities went scanning the suburbs of the city. Taking the subway to the last stops on Line 9, Line 7 and Line 6 we arrived in Thames Town, Nordic Town and Holland Town. The result of this hallucinatory visits will be shared later, for now a couple of images of a sideways Shanghai 上海 as seen from behind the subway window.

If one has a couple of hours and 7rmb (less than 1 euro) to spare, a trip with the subway to the different corners of the city of Shanghai might be worthwhile. Explore Shanghai has a good map, while the Wikipedia entry on the Shanghai Metro is a nice reminder of the staggering ambitions and numbers of the city’s public transport system:

As of 2011, there are eleven metro lines (excluding the Shanghai Maglev Train), 277 stations and over 434 kilometres (270 mi) of tracks in operation, the longest network in the world. The Shanghai Metro delivered 1.884 billion rides in 2010, the fourth busiest in the world. It set a daily ridership record of 7.548 million on October 22, 2010.

Most of the satellite towns are located near the end of the subway line – such as Thames Town (Line 9, Songjiang Xincheng 松江新城站), Nordic Town (Line 7, Meilan Lake 美兰湖站) or Holland Town (Line 6, Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone 外高桥保税区). Large part of the travel happens underground, in total darkness and with a high frequency of stops. Once one emerges above ground, commonly three to five stops before the end, one sees a different city. Oftentimes it has been hard to recognize these areas as part of the city we live in, we tend to think to know. In essence there is few relation with what is happening in the inner city. It is always a surprise as once can arrive in a suburban area that feature the same density and construction activity as one would see in any outskirt of a Chinese city, or one sees the first Free Trade Zone to be established in China (Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone 外高桥保税区) passing.

Along the road, one start believing that these European themed satellite cities are a territorial trap, picturesque architectural ambushes in the war on the identity of the city. Sometimes they are to be seen from the subway window. At other times one only sees are roads under construction, villages between demolish, skyscrapers enmeshed in bamboo, high-density housing blocks and shoppingmalls in neo-classical, Greek, American and Gothic style. The outskirts of Shanghai 上海 have become outlet areas, not only for clothing and furniture, but also for architectural concepts.

Line 7 to Nordic Town | Shanghai, December 2011
Line 7 to Nordic Town | Shanghai, December 2011

Line 6 to Holland Town | Shanghai, December 2011
Line 6 to Holland Town | Shanghai, December 2011

Pictures by movingcities.org

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