Public Service Murals in China’s Cities

Public service messages are not always thought of as art.  However, Urban Photo has found some beautiful mural and mosaic PSA’s in the back allies of a Shanghai and Suzhou.  The messages that accompany these colorful displays generally provide “Party-like slogans” that,

…reminded the lane’s former residents of behaviors that went along with a civilized society: protecting the environment (绿化美化,保护环境), maintaining neighborly and familial harmony (邻里团结,家庭和睦) (with the classic two grandparents-two parents-one child family structure), keeping law and order (遵纪守法,遵纪秩序), helping others (in the footsteps of the exemplary revolutionary hero Lei Feng, 学习雷锋,助人为乐)  and promoting the belief in science to combat superstitions (普及科学破除迷).

Murals in Shanghai’s back allies from Urban Photo

Urban Photo’s stories reminded me of a few posters I noticed this summer in a traditional neighborhood in Shanghai.  These posters used cartoons to inform residents of “proper behavior” while foreigners were in Shanghai for the Expo. They were part of a larger campaign that urged Shanghai’s residents not to spit, wear pajamas in public and to generally avoid being rude to tourist.

Sadly though these lanes of traditional low density housing, where such public service art is displayed, are quickly disappearing.  As Urban Photo pointed out Ruihua Lane in Shanghai is scheduled to be demolished in the near future. This leads me to wonder how many other Chinese cities have hidden public service art in their historic allies?

- Melissa

Construction & Deconstruction of the Shanghai Expo

Between 2004 to 2010 the government of Shanghai relocated over 18,000 households from the 528 hectare site of the 2010 World Expo.  This of course resulted in massive demolition projects and subsequent construction of new housing projects in more remote parts of the city. Last summer I had the opportunity to visit the Expo as part of an NYU course abroad.  For this course I choose to research how the government of Shanghai relocated the 18,000 households.  So when I came across Bricoleurbanism’s post on the (de)constructing the Expo I was very excited to see a satellite image comparisons of the site in 2004 and 2010.  If you look closely below you will notice a compact village in the southeast portion of the site in 2004.

2004 The future site of the 2010 World Expo

2010 World Expo Park Constructed

Of course this post led me to further wonder what was happening with the Expo site today, since the Expo closing ceremony in October?   It was hard to image that this massive event, costing over US$ 40 billion, was constructed to only last six months.  From my trip this summer I already knew that the China Pavilion was intended to be a permanent structure while the other countries’ pavilions would be torn down to make way a park and other land use.  I found some interesting pictures of the rest of the Expo between October to December 2010, as it has turn into a massive demolition site.  By now most of the pavilions are probably completely gone suggests a few bloggers, but I have yet to find more recent images. In the coming months it will be interesting to see how Shanghai decides to reuse this prime land.  Below are a few photos of the demolition from various bloggers.

“Why do they need to construct something before they start demolishing?” I asked. “It’s China,” said my friend, who’s Chinese. “If they’re building a wall, it’s to hide something behind it.”

Constructing a wall to divide the permanent portion of the Expo from the demolition site. Image and quote from: Shanghai Skiok!



The deconstructed UK Pavilion as of December 2010. Image from Shanghai Scrap.

Read a first hand account of the demolition site from Shanghai Skiok! and see more pictures from CNNGo.