Shanghai Sculpture Space - known to the public as Red Town because of the colour of the bricks which gives the buildings a very distinctive appearance in the area - opened the door in 2005 in the industrial heritage of an early 20th century steel-making factory, which sat empty for years. It was first commissioned as a sculpture exhibition space offering different shows organized from the Shanghai Urban Planning Bureau and Shanghai Sculpture Committee Office. It presented unique environmental features for a location downtown: versatile architecture spaces, open areas, grassy lawn facing a very decent urban landscape, all of which contributed over the years to the shaping and structuring of a variety of activities and experiences, including art, leisure, and social functions.
Red Town has metamorphosed the 20th-century factory that formerly occupied this location from dusty and abandoned remnants to trendiest and peaceful creative digs. On a total area of 18000 square meters, of which 11000 of business areas, 5000 of exhibitions, and 2000 of entertainment; it ultimately included live houses, galleries, concert venues, fitness club, bridal couture boutique, art therapy studios, bookstores, organic cafés, floral markets, and vintage stores.
Red Town represents a primordial case of creative city, ideated as a possible solution for economic stagnancy and urban restoration needs, yet not completely planned nor designed in its strategy. Shanghai has been pioneer in embracing the concept of creative city, through a renovation strategy which has been defined as “creative spatio-temporal fix”. The interest of studying this spatial and temporal model is because it seems able to cope with the crisis of capital accumulation, and at the same time to trigger unexpected engagement with inhabitants and users: in more or less positive, yet interesting ways, the time of Red Town has largely influenced immaterial notions such as leisure, heritage and public space.
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