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Garden Houses

These photos of garden houses, perhaps, will leave readers astonished: in Shanghai's forest of highrises, so many quiet and elegant houses.

Shanghai's garden houses, as a accommodation for a higher class, began to rise at the same time as the emergence of foreign concessions, the invasion of western colonialists and advancement of social economy. Soon after it became one of the five open trading ports, Shanghai grew into China's largest industrial and commercial center, and so these detached garden houses were built one after another.


The former private residence of Wang Jiangwei, now the Children's Palace of Changning District


A garden house at Xinguo Road, owned formerly by a manager of Butterfield & Swire

The Sassoon Villa, built by David Sassoon, an old-line colonialist

The history of garden houses in Shanghai may be roughly divided into three periods. During the first period--from the time Shanghai became an open trading port through World War I, foreign missionaries and capitalists were not very economically strong, and therefore, could only afford to build simple, hip-roofed garden houses. But with the expansion of foreign concessions, quite a few western-style garden houses gradually emerged each of a considerable size. Because of Shanghai's cheap labour period, from 1919 to the eve of the War of Resistance Against Japan, saw the mushroom growth of apartments built with idle money and the rapid increase of garden houses. The third period began in 1937. Most of the earlier garden houses of this period were built on the western bank of the Huangpu River and along Kunshan Road in Kongkou District. Later, with the westward expansion of foreign concessions garden houses sprouted, a great many of which were scattered in Xuhui and Changning Districts along Wukang, Hengshan, Yueyang, Huanan, Yongjia, Hongqiao and West Fuxin Roads. Of all the detached garden houses, with a total floor space of 160,000 square metres, thirty-nine percent in Changning District, nine percent in Luwan District and the remaining twenty-three percent in other Shanghai districts, according to statistics.


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