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Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center: Eyeing the future

2013-11-22 13:49 CRIENGLISH.com Web Editor: Wang YuXia
A skywards view of the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com]

A skywards view of the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com]

Every city has a desire to move towards the future, but some do it harder and faster than others. Of the countless cities in the Chinese Mainland, Shanghai ranks as the most modern and developed. Shanghai is the largest city proper by population in the world. For anyone with an inkling of curiosity about what goes into maintaining and creating such a city, the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center serves to enlighten the masses about the limitless possibilities of urbanity.

The exhibition center is appropriately located in the People's Square, just off Nanjing Road. The six-storey building opened its doors in 2000, but has its eye firmly placed on the upcoming decades.

The highlight of the center is on the fourth floor, where a massive scale model of the city dominates the entire floor space of the storey. The intricate replicas of the city's neighborhoods come offer come in forms both familiar and new. A sprinkling of dust aside, the model purports to show the city as it will be ten years down the road, with all the approved architectural projects in place. The model draws the eyes along the waterways and past landmark sights new and old, whilst lights brighten and dim to simulate both day and night views.

Another noteworthy display is a somewhat dizzying 360 degree theater which zooms through an impressive CGI version of the city. It's a blue-skied Shanghai without traffic congestion, a Shanghai whose buildings sparkle like champagne, a Shanghai where the crystalline water of the Yangtze River appears to have just been poured in from a recyclable Evian bottle. If Shanghai eventually looks like this, then its multi-year plans to eradicate problems like pollution and traffic (as detailed on the fifth floor) will be the very definition of efficacy.

But Shanghai wasn't always a bastion of modernity. The center also details the history and transformation of Shanghai since its inception. Photos and holographic models explore its growth as a trade hub since before the first Opium War.

The exhibition hall has enough to keep one occupied for a few hours, although those who have the patience to read the display information will get more out of it; since most of the exhibits aren't particularly interactive (driving a simulated boat is about as hands-on as it gets).

And even if the boat doesn't stir your soul, there's always the view of the throng in the People's Square before the quintessential backdrop of Shanghai skyscrapers.

Address: 100 Renmin Avenue, Shanghai, by the People's Square subway station.

Entrance fee: 30 yuan

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