If you’re looking for a Shanghai Wander that’s just a little…well…weirder than your normal exploration, head over to the 1933 Slaughterhouse. This at once beautiful and at once haunting Art Deco building feels like you’ve stepped into what would result if the Winchester Mystery House and an MC Escher drawing had a cement baby. Additionally the rooftop terrace offers great views of the real Shanghai: a city at the same time old and new.
This “abattoir” (a fancy—and less gruesome term for slaughterhouse) was built in 1933 (surprise surprise) by the Shanghai Municipal Council—a group established to help in the oversight and development of roads, refuse collection and taxation in the pre-communist, rapidly developing international port city of Shanghai. The building designed by British architect Balfours, and constructed by the Chinese group, Yu Hong Ji Construction, out of concrete imported from the UK is apparently one of the last of its kind in the world.
The slaughterhouse boasts a geometric puzzle of 26 “air bridges” that connect the center core with the outer walkways. These air bridges were originally used to control and direct the cattle as they walked toward their demise.
These days 1933 is nothing so gruesome, and no bloody reminders of it’s past remain—not that I’ve found anyway! Instead the building is being resurrected as an arts and food hub—although the success of this resurrection is questionable. You’ll come across cafe’s, restaurants, artist studios and the random Ferrari Owners Club as often as you’ll come across empty cement rooms and unused random spaces.
When visiting 1933, something that I enjoy just as much as exploring the maze of air bridges and photographing the geometric compositions on the interior, is the fresh breezes and awesome views from the rooftop deck (of course all of this depends on the AQI that day). From this vantage point you get a quintessential look at what is Shanghai: old and new growing up together, often intertwining and living side by side—at least for now.
If after all this exploring you can’t quite find something to satisfy your stomach in 1933, the Friends Cafe/Central Perk (160 Harbin Rd) is right down the street, and is another one of Shanghai’s themed cafe’s worthy of a visit—especially if you ever watched theTV show Freinds.
Open: Daily 8:30a–10p
Metro: Hailun Rd Station (Line 4 & 10, 10 minutes walk)
Have an update or correction about this location or activity? Please let me know! Thanks 😀