The Future of Shanghai: Major Urban Developments in 2017

In the eyes of city developers, the Shanghai you are experiencing right now hasn’t reached its full potential -- maybe not for another twenty years. Taking the city's most iconic area for architecture, The Bund, for example. In the next few years, Shanghai will soon be treated to a few more of those: West Bund, North Bund, South Bund, all undergoing massive development plans.  The same with Xintiandi, which is also being replicated throughout the city in major developments slated to open within the next few years.

For many, these changes are overwhelming. For many, these changes are sad, coming as they do so at the expense of the traditional character of the city and sometimes its inhabitants. One thing is for sure: now, more than ever, Shanghai's going to be a pretty great place to film a Tom Cruise spy movie.  Bring on the fabulous.  


Commercial Centers

The Bund Finance Center

No.600, Zhongshan Dong Er Lu, Huangpu


The BFC (外滩金融中心), is a 420,000-square-meter financial center, the core project of Fosun Property. Serving as an extension of The Bund towards the south, the architectural teams behind its design are Foster + Partners and Heatherwick Studio, whose previous clients include Apple and Google. Heatherwick Studio is also better known in Shanghai for having designed the UK Pavilion at the 2010 World Expo. Needless to say, the whole development looks really high-end and stylish.

Aside from hosting international-level financial summits, the BFC will be home to many multi-national enterprises, conglomerates, and fashion houses -- Sina’s Shanghai headquarter is there, along with Italian menswear Caruso’s first store in China. British PM David Cameron visited the construction site in 2013 as many British firms are involved in this project. The Art Deco-style hotel Wanda Reign will occupy 30,000-square-meters of space at the BFC. In the center of all the shops and restaurants and two 180-meter-tall office towers, sits an art and culture center: galleries and a performance venue, with the latter resembling a traditional Chinese theater. The BFC is currently partially open to the public. It’s about three kilometers from Xintiandi, and connects with Line 9 and Line 10.

Ruihong Tiandi (Hall of the Moon)

No.188 Ruihong Lu, Hongkou


Dubbed “the third Xintiandi in Shanghai” (the second one being The Hub), Ruihong Tiandi (瑞虹天地) is a 55,000-square-meter commercial center located in the northern part of Shanghai.

Designed by Ben Wood (Studio Shanghai), this eco-friendly complex contains a main commercial area called Hall of the Moon (月亮湾) -- where Shanghai’s Modernsky Lab's live music venue is planned to be located. Expect to see music and movie events happening here soon, along with concept stores from chains such as Bunlife and Pacific Coffee. Ruihong Tiandi’s Hall of the Moon opens this month and is near subway Lines 4, 8, and 10.

Jian Ye Li

North side of Jianguo Xi Lu, Xuhui


An ongoing project that commenced in 2008, the redevelopment of Jian Ye Li (建业里), Shanghai’s largest shikumen area has been on hold since 2012, but is finally ready to open. Led by Shanghai Hengfu Investment & Development Co., Ltd, this huge project has been at the center of controversy among preservationists and traditionalists, as its exterior retains a 1920s-style villa aesthetic, while its interiors have been completely redone.

So far, a few retailers and restaurants have already opened their businesses in the development, but the whole project is planned to be completed in March 2017.  For scheduled tenants, apart from the Capella Hotel, French celebrity chef Pierre Gagnaire’s first restaurant in China is moving in: "Comptoir Pierre Gagnaire".

HKRI Taikoo Hui

789 Nanjing Xi Lu, Jing’an


Speaking of disappearing shikumen neighborhoods, Jing’an’s HKRI Taikoo Hui (兴业太古汇) was once the largest shikumen area in Shanghai.  After being purchased by HKR International Ltd., and later shared with Taikoo, most of the old shikumen architecture was torn down in 2010, and a new project took over the space. It's been slowly starting up operations in 2016 with the majority of businesses moving in in 2017.

As one of the busiest parts of town, this post-modernist project developed by Swire Properties is comprised of a shopping mall, two office buildings, and three hotel residences. Easily accessed by Line 2, Line 12 and Line 13. In addition to luxury brands from around the world, boutique hotel The Temple House, the Mainland’s biggest City’Super, and Singaporean bookstore Page One are all slated to open.

Shanghai DreamCenter

Close to Huangpu River, West Bund, Xuhui


This is going to be a new landmark alongside the Huangpu River, as part of a bigger plan to develop the south of Shanghai -- DreamCenter (上海梦中心), a collaboration among Hong Kong Lan Kwai Fong Group, DreamWorks Animation, and Shanghai China Media Captial.

According to their website, this huge entertainment complex has twelve creative cultural buildings, including the HQ of Oriental Dreamworks, a Legoland, a few theaters, one IMAX cinema, music halls and art museums. They are planning to host worldwide movie premieres and big entertainment events.

Sinar Mas Center

Daming Dong Lu, Hongkou

Image: SOM

Sinar Mas Center (白玉兰广场) (formerly the White Magnolia Plaza), is the highest landmark in Puxi. It’s expected to be completed by the end of 2016, the work of world-class architecture firm SOM, built with sustainable design in mind. Located north of the Bund, the riverfront project is a mixed-use complex comprised of a 320-meter-tall office building and a 172-meter hotel tower -- Shanghai's first W Hotel is slated to fill that space. More info on that below.

Image: Netease

A few other big shopping centers that are soon to open, including Vivo City (Qixing Lu) from Singapore, which connects to Line 5 and 12 and features a sky garden, a children’s amusement park, and an outdoor theater. A new SML Center is happening in Xuhui, and a new Raffles City is said to be opening in Changning in April next year as well. Both of these shopping areas will have major subway lines attached.



Bulgari Hotels & Resort

Suhe Creek

China’s first Bulgari Hotel is scheduled to open on January 28, 2017, on the north side of Suzhou Creek, in Jing’an District. The architecture design team behind it is Foster+Partners, along with Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel and Partners responsible for the interiors.

According to their website: “the hotel will juxtapose ancient and modern architectural themes in a fascinating reflection of the prestigious Suhe Creek surroundings, called the 'Gold Strand of Shanghai', home to a flourishing art scene.”

W Hotel

Daming Dong Lu, Hongkou


As mentioned above, Shanghai’s first W Hotel is soon to open as well, at the Sinar Mas Center in North Bund. Said to be opening on June 28, 2017, this 383-room luxury hotel is designed in the Shanghai Tan style, with a spectacular view of... where else, The Bund.


Maqiao, Minhang

Image: wehouse-media

Further out in Minhang, luxury boutique hotel group Aman (安缦) is opening it’s biggest and most ambitious resort in Shanghai, right beside Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena. The hotel is designed by Kerry Hill Architects, and contains over 30 renovated hundred-year-old houses, and 1,000 ancient camphor trees transferred from Jiangxi province.

Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental

5188 Chenhua Lu near Dingyuan Lu, Songjiang District


Although not anywhere near the city center, Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental has been one of the most talked about hotels in the past year. Said to be completed next year, its claim to fame is being “the lowest hotel in the world”, as 17 out of the 19 stories will be below ground level, built into a gorge.

According to Wikipedia: “The abandoned quarry will be partially filled with water to create an artificial lake. The hotel is designed in an "S" shape utilizing a convex to concave form. It also has a separate structure for the lobby that is made to replicate a flying saucer as it would descend into the quarry.”

J Hotel

501 Yincheng Zhong Lu, Lujiazui


Shanghai will also offer “the highest hotel in the world” -- though still without an exact opening date, J-Hotel will be occupying the 84th to 110th floors of the Shanghai Tower, with 258 rooms available. The hotel is said to be operated by Interstate China Hotels & Resorts, a joint venture between Shanghai Jin Jiang International Hotels and Interstate Hotels & Resorts.

Thanks to Thomas Jaehndel for fact-checking.