Even in the context of China's booming economy and ambitious town-planning, the West Bund project is, to coin a phrase, 'awesome'. It seems that the half-a-dozen major new museums that have opened around town in the last year or two aren't enough. So a long strip of semi-industrial land on the west bank of the Huangpo River, opposite the Expo 2010 site, is being transformed into what officials hope will be a cross-between Hong Kong's West Kowloon Cultural Centre and London's South Bank. It will take 10-15 years but they're not hanging about. In December, two private museums will open: billionaire investors Liu Yiqian & Wei Wang's Long Museum 2, and the Chinese-Indonesian entrepreneur Budi Tek's Yuz Museum. They are a mess of construction and yet they are due to open their doors in 6 & 8 weeks respectively. Of course they will do it.
Next up will be the public West Bund Museum (designed by David Chipperfield) and Waterfront Theatre (designed by a Swedish company). Then there's the massive US-Chinese Oriental DreamWorks film production centre.
But my main purpose was to check out the Shanghai West Bund Biennial of Architecture and Contemporary Art which just opened, staged in a series of fabulous derelict factories and oil tanks. No time to go into it in detail, but it was well curated and impressively presented. I was particularly interested in the sound art exhibition called RPM. David Toop was in town last weekend to give a talk and I didn't know.