Friday, January 13, 2012


As an additional tourist reference to my post last week, if you ever do find yourself staying at the Hotel Indigo Shanghai anytime soon, consider yourself lucky and take the time to stroll down The Bund’s waterfront collection of 52 historical buildings, all built in the various architectural styles ranging from Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-Classical, Beau-Arts and Art Deco. Shanghai is one of the cities known to have the richest collections of Art Deco architectures in the world.

Definitely, Europe is home to much older, iconic buildings and structures. Nothing beats Europe’s historical beauty. But one thing unique about Shanghai is that for an Asian city, you can actually walk down this amazing boulevard of European-style buildings all perfectly maintained, restored and renovated to perfection. It is almost surreal. If you are a fan of architecture or just simply enchanted by anything old and historic (like me!), you will love learning some of these unique buildings’ interesting backgrounds. It makes the walk down The Bund a lot more special.

Since my last recent trip to Shanghai, I have become more and more obsessed with The Bund’s history and have started taking pictures of all the old buildings. I just find them simply beautiful. Unfortunately, I don’t have space here to post all 52 buildings, so I’ll just share a few of my favorites and of course, the most famous ones.


The Asia Building or the McBain/Asiatic Petroleum Building is located at No.1 on The Bund. It is a six-storey structure built in 1916 for the Royal Dutch Shell’s Asiatic Petroleum division. It also later housed the Shanghai Metallurgical Designing & Research Institute.


The Shanghai Club is located at No.2 on The Bund and is a three-storey Baroque Revival style building, which was the former British Men’s Club, the most exclusive club in Shanghai during the 1920s-1930s heydays. The original red-brick structure was built in 1861, and former United States President Ulysses S. Grant was once hosted there on his visit to Shanghai in 1879. Later on, the building was rebuilt in 1910 with reinforced concrete to its present day Baroque Revival design. Today it is the Waldorf Astoria Hotel Shanghai. 

The Union Building is one of my favorites because of how it has transformed into a modern day luxury shopping center/ restaurant and bar complex. It is located at No. 3 on The Bund and is now simply called “Three on The Bund.”

The six-storey building was built in 1916 by P&T Architects and Surveyors (Palmer & Turner) and the very first building in Shanghai to use a steel structure. It is designed in Neo-Renaissance style with some Baroque style details. The rooftop has an iconic domed corner pavilion which is now a part of a restaurant’s private terrace. Restaurants located here are Jean Georges, Nougatine, Whampoa Club, New Heights, House of Wine and The Cupola. For beauty and wellness, there is the Evian Spa and for shopping, the Giorgio Armani Flagship Store.


The China Merchants Bank Building located on No.6 on The Bund stops you in your tracks when you first see it. It is a full-on Gothic style beauty. It was built in 1897 and now houses the Shiatzy Chen Flagship Store. Shiatzy Chen is a Taiwanese luxury goods fashion house often described as “the Chanel of Taiwan” focusing on neo-Chinese chic design.


This Great Northern Telegraph Building was built in 1906 in the late French Renaissance style. It is located on No.7 on The Bund and was designed by Atkinson and Dallas and now houses the Bangkok Bank and the Consulate of Thailand. 


The old HSBC building is one of the most famous buildings on The Bund. It is a six-storey Neo-Classical building designed by British architecture firm, Palmer & Turner Architects and Surveryors, and was the headquarters of The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation from 1923 – 1955. It is located at No.12 on The Bund and now houses the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank. It first started construction in 1921 and completed in 1923. The interior of the HSBC building is also known for its beautiful mosaic-tiled ceilings.  

A mosaic ceiling inside the HSBC building


The Customs House building is also one of the most famous buildings on The Bund. This eight-storey building was built in 1927, and to this day, it is still the Customs House. Along with the HSBC building, it is one of the most recognizable buildings on The Bund and in Shanghai. The exterior of the building can be described as a Greek-revival Neo-Classicist design. Its iconic feature is the clock tower which was built according to the designs of Big Ben in London. It remains the largest clock in Asia.


Last but not the least is The Peace Hotel. The Peace Hotel is divided into two buildings, the South building and the North building. The North Building, No.20 on The Bund, is also called the Sassoon House. It was built by Sir Victor Sassoon of the famous Sassoon family, a real estate businessman in the early 20th century. It originally housed the Cathay Hotel, but in 2007, it has undergone extensive renovation and as of 2010, it is now the luxurious Fairmont Peace Hotel Shanghai.

The Peace Hotel South Building, now The Swatch Art Peace Hotel

The South building or No.19 on The Bund was once called the Palace Hotel and built in 1908. Today it has been transformed into the Swatch Art Peace Hotel. The exterior showcases a Renaissance style structure and the interiors consist of mostly jewelry and watch shops along with a boutique hotel, a Swatch showroom and huge store, and various restaurants.