An uplifting vision for the Bund

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2006, 12:00am

US engineers want to raise buildings for more space

An ambitious plan to hydraulically lift the historic buildings on Shanghai's Bund by about eight metres to create additional retail space has been proposed by the Chinese branch of a US engineering firm.

The proposal, which would create 140,000 square metres of added space, would involve placing a walkway over the existing road.

Raymond Shaw, president of China for Actuant Corp, said yesterday the move to raise 23 buildings at a cost of about 5 billion yuan would restore the waterfront site to its former glory and change it into a commercial centre for the city.

'Technically, this project presents few difficulties, as we have the expertise to lift buildings of this kind. More complex are the social issues, of whether the landlords, the conservationists and society can accept it,' he said.

Mr Shaw said the Bund had lost its former appearance due to construction of an anti-flood dyke on the Huangpu River, which concealed the lower levels of the buildings, and an eight-lane road between them and the river. The plan would restore the architectural balance between the buildings and the river, create two levels of retail space, and, by building a walkway over the road, create a more consumer-friendly environment.

Actuant is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and its headquarters are in Milwaukee.

In 2004, the company was involved in moving the 74-year-old Shanghai Concert Hall, which weighed 5,650 tonnes, to a site 67 metres away and raising it by 3.4 metres to add new shopping and service facilities.

It has moved larger buildings, including a 43-storey Las Vegas office tower that weighed 160,800 tonnes and is heavier than any of the Bund buildings.

Mr Shaw said his firm had not presented the plan officially to the city government but was discussing it informally.

'Shanghai encourages innovation more than most other cities in China,' he said.