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LOST IN TRANSIT. SHANGHAI 2005

Shanghai literally means "on the sea". It's the city that looks outward to the rest of the world, to the future. But what will Shanghai of the future look like in 20 years' time? With change so rapid and overarching, even architects working here designing that future can't answer that question. Everything is in constant mutation, nothing is set as a fixity. There anything doesn't follow any spatial models. Shanghai, China's most exciting city, is changing at breakneck speed. That transformation, along with the hope, fear, greed and nostalgia that it engenders, is the stuff that has fascinated me a lot. It's where my grandfather lived in the 1930s as a British Army Sergeant. It was a mythical place for me, and it was a kind of dream world for him as I was told by my father. That Shanghai is constantly changing also has led me to contemplate "transience, and how memory and forgetting works, and how cities sink and rise. For now we can see Shanghai as ascending. It's like a star rising. It will take Hong Kong over in its pure industry and energy, yet at the same time, there's a lot of loss of the past. I liked to see the city as a mirror to reflect the changes sweeping China, and how ordinary people are caught in that transition. Shanghai is rushing headlong into the future, even as its inhabitants struggle to deal with the present. It's racing to become a showcase settlement, a paragon of modernity. And yet in building a new tomorrow, it risks forgetting, or even erasing, its own past.

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