If you’re stunned by Shanghai today, go to see how it will look in
2020. The Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall is a short walk across Renmin Square from the magnificent Shanghai
Museum, and is well worth a visit, far more interesting than its
The centerpiece is an enormous scale model of the city centre that
takes an entire upper floor. It shows current and future
development, and it’s mind-boggling. There are raised
walkways for viewing the model from different angles, and the
detail is fascinating, showing clearly what’s planned, and what
already exists. It’s also a very good introduction to
Shanghai, and gives visitors an excellent perspective and
introduction to the city. The building itself is attractive,
and includes space for temporary exhibitions.
With five stories there is, of course, a great deal more to see
than the vast scale model. As you’d expect, it’s all very
high-tech, with some great displays, interactive exhibits and
walk-throughs, complete with sound, light and vision effects,
illustrating different aspects of Shanghai’s urban planning.
The exhibits are detailed and thorough, and provide a wealth of
information on how the city’s planners see the future. This
huge and exuberant city has always done things a little
differently, and here too they are way ahead of the curve.
There’s a small model of inner Shanghai in the entrance, not to be
confused with its big brother upstairs. You’ll find shops,
tea houses and restaurants in the basement, presented as a
reproduction of a 1930s Shanghai street. Other floors house
the displays, both passive and hands-on: how the planners see
the airport developing, the port, all kinds of transport, including
the magnetic levitation (maglev), subway, and light-rail trains
that are going to change the face of the city, greening the city,
leisure activities, managing the waterways and much more.
There are photos of colonial and contemporary Shanghai on the
mezzanine, which demonstrate just how far this city has come in a
short time, and a cafe and art gallery on the fifth floor.
Temporary visiting exhibitions vary in their content, including
visiting international art exhibitions, and there are also displays
concerning the World Expo, due in 2010.
City planning is a hot topic throughout the world, and the centre
is themed around "City, Human, Environment and Development", themes
which concern city dwellers from any country. The glimpse of
present and future Shanghai can provide much food for thought, as
well as enjoyment and a good overview of this often overwhelming