The Century-old Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce Remains Its Old Features after Renovation and Makes a Gorgeous Appearance

Released on:2018-06-30


(Text by Reporter Gu Wu) On the afternoon of June 15, as the centennial exhibition of Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce was unveiled in the Suhe Creek area, the former site of Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce, which once witnessed and promoted the prosperity of China’s modern national industry and commerce, announced the completion of its renovation protection project for restoring its original appearance, and made a gorgeous appearance with its unique architectural style of classicism. An Lusheng, Secretary of the CPC Jing’an District Committee unveiled the “centennial exhibition”.


Locating at No. 470 Beisuzhou Road, the former site of Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce was designed by Atkinson & Dallas in 1912, and was completed and opened in 1916. The building of Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce features its 3-layer steel-concrete composite structure with an architectural style of classicism. The exterior wall of the building adopts fair-faced red brick walls, and the pilasters, doors and windows of the building are decorated with Baroque decorations. At the two sides of the chamber locate the corridor and the box with an elegant style and exquisite carved decorations. The main door of the building, which faces the Suzhou River, enjoys a pair of pillars of composite order imitatingthe style of the Arch of Titus in Rome, seeming majestic.


It is learned that Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce originates from the Shanghai Business Conference Association set by the government of the Qing Dynasty, which was renamed Shanghai General Commerce Association afterwards. After the Revolution of 1911, Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce was merged with the Shanghai Business Association voluntarily organized by gentle merchants in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, and then formally named Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce. During the Republic of China period, although with “Shanghai” in its name, Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce actually embraced the whole nation and broke the limit of “Promoting the Friendly Relationship between the People from the Same Place, Uniting the People of the Same Group” of the traditional chambers of commerce in China. At that time, Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce converged the elites from the national Chinese industry and commerce over the period of more than half a century, and fostered the first generation of entrepreneurs in China including Yan Xinhou, Xu Run, Zhu Baosan, Yu Qiaqing and Wu Yunchu, who dedicated themselves to rescuing the nation by engaging in industry, dredging the watercourses, opening schools and operating hospitals. They protected the Chinese businessmen's benefits internally while safeguarding the sovereignty of China externally. In addition, it was the place where the first business arbitration office in China was established, the first draft of a Commercial Law in China was developed, the first display office of commodities in China was constructed, the first commercial library in China was founded and the first piece of Monthly Paper of the General Chamber of Commerce in China was worked out, leading the modernization of the economy of Modern China. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the building has been used by Shanghai Electron Tube Factory, United Light Bulb Factory and Shanghai Electronic Components Research Institute.


As Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce is one of the third batch of excellent historical buildings of Shanghai and a registered immovable cultural heritage of Shanghai, Overseas Chinese Town (Shanghai) Real Estate Co., Ltd. formally launched the renovation protection project of Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce in 2011, and established a special renovation team made up of urban construction experts and designing elites from more than ten professional institutions. In the process of the renovation, members of the renovation team recorded all details of the building with photos and videos, including walls, ceilings, windows and door frames, input them into computer to form a BIM (Building Information Modeling) databank, and compared and analyzed the details one by one based on the original drawings and historical photos. Based on the principle of authenticity, identifiability, reversibility, integration and minimum interference, the renovation team renovated the façade of the building in strict accordance with the original style, original materials and original process to reproduce the graceful feature of the western classicism style, completely reserving the basic layout of the building and the distinctive interior decoration. With a 7-year elaborate renovation, Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce successfully reproduces its gorgeous style of the old days in the end.


The centennial exhibition of Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce, sponsored by Overseas Chinese Town (Shanghai) Real Estate Co., Ltd. and OCAT Shanghai Museum, is held with an aim to let the citizens and tourists know more about the history of the rise and fall of national industry and commerce of Shanghai and even of China. The exhibition is composed of two parts: the “The History” and the “The Renovation”. In “The History”, the exhibition combed the historical development of Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce and clearly interpreted the historical value and significance of Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce through four chapters themed “The Integration of the Rivers and Seas”, “The Pillar in the Historical Flood”, “The Shelter  of the Harbor” and “The Leading of Trends”, presenting the rise and fall of the first chamber of commerce in China through numerous materials of great value including maps, physical exhibits and documents. The organizer of the exhibition also visited 5 descendants of the former important members of the General Chamber of Commerce to ask them to dictate their family heritage, showing the ups and downs of a century through the small window of individuals. On the other hand, “The Renovation” completely presented the process of the protective renovation of the building of Shanghai General Chamber of Commerce. From videos, models and drawings to the renovation log, it even reproduces the four special processes and techniques in the renovation process, narrating the story of the rebirth of the century-old building. It is learned that the exhibition period is from today to December 16. Citizens and tourists can make a reservation for visiting the exhibition by following the WeChat official account named “Overseas Chinese Town Suhe Creek” and clicking the “Make a Reservation for Visiting the Exhibition” menu.


Link for reservation: