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Xintiandi (literally means "new earth and sky") is an urban tourist attraction imbued with the city's historical and cultural legacies. It features a multitude of specialist F&B, retail, entertainment, cultural, recreational, commercial and residential facilities in restored 'Shikumen' houses -- a special old form of buildings with stone-framed gates only found in Shanghai -- as well as state-of-the-art new buildings, catering for both residents and visitors. It is located in the very center of the city, close to the bustling Huaihai Road C., the Huangpi Road S. Station of the Metro Line and the conjunction of the north-south and east-west elevated roads.
Xintiandi has a site area of 30,000 square metres and gross floor area of 60,000 square metres, involving the preservation and transformation of blocks of the historic long-tang (flagstone alleys) and the unique Shikumen (stone gate houses) to the south of Huai Hai Zhong Road, the most prestigious commercial centre in Shanghai. Built during the 19th and 20th century, long-tangs were walled neighbourhoods lined by rows of two and three-storey enclosed courtyard dwellings with Shikumen as entrances to the houses.
Since most of the Shikumen houses were built by foreign enterprises within the foreign concessions at the time, they became a symbol of the East meeting the West. The heavy black wooden front doors of Shikumen houses were framed by elaborately sculpted lintels decorated with either Chinese characters or rococo motifs. Thanks to this fusion of both Chinese and western elements, the Shikumen is distinctly Shanghainese.
As the city continues to develop, many of these classic architectural landmarks have been demolished to free up land. Those that remain are falling into disrepair. In the mid-1990's, Hong Kong's Shui On Group announced a US$150 million scheme, known as Xintiandi, to renovate the Shikumen houses on the south of Huai Hai Zhong Road and turn them into art, cultural, shopping, dining and entertainment hub as London's Piccadilly Circus or Paris' Arc de Triomphe. One of the purposes of Xintiandi is to make Shanghai a wold class city without forgoing the beauty of nature and the history of the municipality. More for Xintiandi...
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