Shanghai has seen a boom of creative industry parks over the past decade that has brought new life to old factory buildings and warehouses. It’s an effort that not only preserves the old industrial structures, but also makes them useful.
The businesses in these parks mainly focus on industrial design, interior design, fashion, advertising, media, software and gaming, as well as studios and brand promotions.
Suzhou Creek is at center stage, as it’s lined with some famous creative parks and centers like M50 on Moganshan Road, E Warehouse Creative Center on Yichang Road and SuHeHui on West Guangfu Road.
As one of the earliest and most successful creative parks in Shanghai, M50, located at 50 Moganshan Road, is probably the best known and most influential.
Opened in 2001, M50 is a fashion landmark of urban culture in Shanghai. The brand has added Creative M50, an annual competition supporting new artists, the M50 website for art in Shanghai (www.M50.com.cn), a guide called “Art in Shanghai,” art spaces and classes as well as pottery products. It covers areas from industrial tourism, public space exhibition and leasing, making and selling of creative products, education and public services in arts.
The more than 130 galleries and organizations that have made M50 their home come from 18 countries, including Britain, France, Italy, Switzerland, the United States and Venezuela, covering fine art, fashion design, architecture, furniture, film and animation, jewelry and art education.
In recent years, M50 has sought partnerships and hosted lecture serious, art investment seminars and special exhibitions. The Creative M50 competition has been held seven times, inviting professors from 22 universities including China Central Academy of Fine Arts and China Academy of Art. Young artists whose work has been in the spotlight at this competition are making appearances in China and abroad.
M50 has also hosted Shanghai Fashion Week, car shows and charity parties.
M50’s website is a professional site for art and design that came online in April 2009. M50.com.cn has three categories: contemporary art, contemporary design and community. It publishes information and updates daily.
Every spring and fall, M50 hosts joint openings, when 20 to 30 renowned galleries unveil new exhibitions. The joint openings also provide an opportunity for collectors and art lovers to communicate.
This 1.15-acre creative park was developed by Shanghai Zhoujiaqiao Creative Cultural Company as their second project after the Zhoujiaqiao Creative Center in Changning District.
The center, located at 751 Yichang Road, was old factory houses in the 1970s.
The E Warehouse was opened in 2007, among the third group of creative industrial parks launched in Shanghai. The center has 10 buildings dating from the 1930s to the 1950s, all factory plants in various styles, providing large spaces with high ceilings.
As it sits on the west bank of the Suzhou Creek, the center constructed a 100-meter-long and 5-meter-wide platform along the flood control wall, which is also a patio with plants, flowers and leisure facilities.
The lighting is another special feature that attracts visitors — in the evening the park really shines along the Suzhou Creek landscape.
The second phase of E Warehouse finished in 2011 is now home to 27 companies. All space is rented out, with more than 90 percent being creative industries like design firms, advertising agencies, architectural firms, animation and gaming companies as well as cultural promotion and communication agencies. The center also has facilities for hosting fashion shows, making it a new fashion and creative landmark in Shanghai.
Situated on West Guangfu Road, the construction of SuHeHui creative park started in late 2008 and was finished two years later. It was once the Shanghai Caojiadu Wholesale Food Market, and now a creative industry cluster zone.
The park is 10,000 square meters in area. As of the end of 2013, all of the storefronts were leased to clients, with 98 percent serving as offices and 2 percent for commercial use.
The companies at SuHeHui are mostly concentrated in design and information technology, including Horizon Exhibition Design & Construction, Tang Consulting and Shanghai eXcec Business Consulting.
SuHeHui is also along the banks of Suzhou Creek, with convenient transportation, as it’s only a 2-minute walk from Longde Road station on Metro Line 11. The park is 5.6km from People’s Square, the center of Shanghai.