Dead space put to good use

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 March, 2009, 12:00am

Where meat packers once went about their work keeping homes, restaurants and hotels in Shanghai supplied, a former abattoir now hosts events and meetings.

Today, Shanghai 1933 is an art deco industrial complex and one of the most chic retail, leisure and meeting venues on the mainland.

Handcarts and trucks may have been the transport of choice before the building fell into disuse but, after its renovation was completed last year, Ferraris were among the main vehicles to be seen at one of the luxury carmaker's launches.

Not to be outdone by their Italian rivals, German marque Porsche held its 60th anniversary at Shanghai 1933 and even incorporated a Porsche-themed museum for the event.

'With our diverse range of large function areas, uninterrupted floor plan, unique style and a management team that really understands the guest experience, 1933 is an event planner's dream,' a spokesman for the venue said.

'A total of 32,500 square metres of indoor and outdoor areas across four factory buildings can cater to all manner of creative specifications - it's really only limited by the client's imagination.'

A dazzling 1,535 square-metre 'theatre-in-the-round' occupies the top level of the main building and features an expansive glass stage under a steel dome.

This large, theatrical space has been fitted with state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems and is serviced by a 3?tonne-capacity industrial lift capable of ferrying a car, making it ideal for events that require dramatic visual impact, such as fashion shows and product launches.

The venue also has a centre for creativity and innovation aimed at artists, designers and creative institutions. One of the first major events was a two-day international Creative Social 2008 annual get-together of the world's top creative directors in the digital media on November 20-21, hosted by Factory - Shanghai. The event included all the top agencies representing the biggest international brands, from Saatchi & Saatchi, Digital London and The Viral Factory, to J Walter Thompson, Ogilvy and Profero.

There was also the Design Reference Paris Exhibition staged by the French consulate and the Paris municipal government. It was one of the largest French design exhibitions on the mainland in recent years, showcasing more than 50 artworks by more than 20 of the most eminent and creative Paris designers including big names such as Philippe Starck, Laurence Brahant and Pierre Gonalons.

Two of the driving forces behind the restoration and management of Shanghai 1933 are Paul Liu and Lily Wang, co-founders of Axons Concepts, which is working closely with Shanghai Creative Industries Corporation and the Hongkou District People's Government.

Mr Liu, Axons Concepts chairman, is a Chinese-American entrepreneur who has lived in Shanghai for about eight years. One of his previous projects involved making Three on The Bund a popular lifestyle and creative venue. He is a former managing director of Bank of America in Hong Kong.

Ms Wang, Axons general manager, is a Shanghai-born former investment banker.

When it was completed in 1933, the Shanghai abattoir was one of the three grandest abattoirs in the world.

The art-deco influenced monument was the product of a cross-cultural exchange, designed by British architects and developed and built by Chinese using concrete imported from Britain.