As a Dutch expat in Shanghai I can be expected to write about Dutch town, part of the one city, nine towns project. However, although I had read about the project and intended to visit a couple of them, I wasn’t aware of a Dutch town among them and happened across it purely by chance.
But before going into that, I’ll share a bit of background on the general project, sourced from this preview of a book on it by a Dutch architect:
To alleviate the city from the enormous pressure and to bring also benefit to the immediate surroundings of the city, the board of the city province implemented the ‘One City, Nine Towns’ plan in the year 2001. This plan is based on a shift from the central city model ‘to a poly-nuclear model. The plan consists of ten New Towns: a new medium-sized city (Song Jiang) and nine compact key cities. With this measure, the province wants to prevent the countryside from urban sprawl. The core of most New Towns is more or less completed; hundreds of thousands of homes and facilities are realized and another hundred of thousands are planned to be build. Some New Towns came to a hold while other New Towns are still in development…
According to the definition of ‘The New Town Institute’ a New Town is “a city that has been deliberately planned and designed from scratch. New Towns distinguish themselves from historic settlements and suggest a heroic act and a promise of progress. They are ideally achieved without the problems of the old town (problems in Shanghai: congestion, pollution, logistical problems)…
As a response to the lack of identity that many New Towns are facing, the Shanghai municipality decided in 2001 to add a European and North American thematically blend. In consultation with architects and urban developers from represented countries a Spanish Town, an Italian Town, a German Town, a Dutch Town, a Scandinavian Town and a British Town are realized. Each city gets its own unique character or identity. The other themes are one modern and one traditional Chinese town, a Harbor town and an ecological town (an intended North American town is cancelled).
I stumbled on Dutch town looking for Gaoqiao old town. The two happen to be adjacent both lining the Jiebang river. the old town is small, but has a very nice village feel to it, and includes some fascinating sites: a really interesting historical museum and a gallery showing the absolutely stunning work of Gaoqiao native Qian Hui’an, a representative of the Shanghai school of painting, both housed in very different but equally beautiful old mansions.
For those exploring Shanghai the pedestrian way, this interesting bit of Pudong can be combined with the Gongqing forest park, which offers the best park trails in town, and the Republic of China President Chiang Kai-Shek’s Greater Shanghai Plan, Shanghai’s Chinese art deco city.
The connection between Gaoqiao and the forest park requires a couple of kilometers of industrial road, lined by large old factories, and a ferry across an interesting stretch of the Huangpu. Chinese art deco city connects to the forest park via Shiguan Road and a bridge across the railway tracks. The run can start at either end (North Waigaoqiao Free trade Zone, line 6 on the Pudong side or Xiangyin Road station, line 8 on the Puxi side)
It is these kinds of finds that makes exploring a megapolis like Shanghai such a treat. It made me think of a recent outing Marjan and I did to Gucun park, way up North, for a run organized by Shanghai running. When leaving the park we came across a fossil museum with a small but amazing collection. In the Netherlands I would travel to visit such a place, here one can hardly find mention of this gem of a museum online.
This park is not too far from another Western themed new town, a replica of Swedish Sigtuna which is close to Luodian old town. This makes for another combination of green, old and new towns and industrial areas that is on my to do list, all on metro line 7. Another one on the list is Songjiang in the Western outskirts. That’s an area which has the largest university campus of the country, wedding pictures’ favorite Thames (UK) new town, some really old sites and the spectacular Chenshan botanical garden; and for those with ultra ambitions, Tianmashan and Sheshan hills can be included. And as I’m on a roll: there is Jiading, which seems to have an old town with quite some sites, but also (the German) Anting new town close by and a possibility to add another ancient water town (Nanxiang), both with stations on line 11.
After this somewhat pretentious and slightly boring expose (it only becomes fun when you actually go out and do it), let’s finish with a joke:
And if that doesn’t do it for you, maybe some relaxation stuff will?