SHIKUMEN, WHICH translates as “stone gate”, is a traditional Chinese architectural style characterised by strong frontal stone walls. , The style, which rose to prominence in the mid-19th century, is similar to the Anglo-American terraces which make up many of the West’s inner city residential areas writes ZUMC student Mei Hang
Many of Shanghai’s Shikumen areas are now modern representations of Chinese architecture and culture, merging contemporary and classical styles. They now combine the residential style of buildings used in Southern China with the Western lifestyle in a way which is typical of modern Shanghai.
The Shikumen architectural style is a huge part of China’s history. It now representS the modernization and commercialization of China, but it also reminds the Chinese people of the rich cultural history that they want to share and promote.
Many of the Shikumen areas around Shanghai have been converted into shops, bars and restaurants in order to appeal to tourists visiting the city. Places such as the Tian Zi Fang creative garden and the Xiantindi shopping district are the best examples of this.
Walking through the Shikumen districts of Shanghai turns the clock back to 19th century Shanghai. It IS predicted that, due to the construction boom that continues to take place throughout the city, it would be difficult to see the authentic Shikumen style amongst the newer styles. China’s government now protects the city’s Shikumen, so fortunately we can still see the authentic Shanghai.