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Wudadao-A Sampling of International Architecture
2008-07-16 16:31:39     CRIENGLISH.com

A Western-style Building on Machangdao Street [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com]

Tianjin's old city culture stems from an extraordinary period in history when nine foreign countries opened concessions in the Wudadao streets.

Known as the "five major streets" in English, the Wudadao streets are five parallel streets with a total length of 17 kilometers and an area of about one square kilometer. It is comprised of more than 230 Western-style villas and 50 former residences of renowned foreign figures built by European countries in 1920s and 1930s.

Widely recognized as an "international architecture exposition," these exotic buildings differ from one another, and include examples of French, British, Italian, Spanish, and German architecture. The low buildings and tree-shaded courtyards form a quiet and comfortable environment.

Among the five streets, Machangdao and Munandao are the most famous, due to their lengths and building periods.

As we took a stroll on Mu Nan Dao, a building with knurrs on its surface came into view. After we got a close look at it, we learned that this distinctive architecture was constructed in 1937 by a British company that ran real estate business in Tianjin at that time. Designed by an Italian architect, the building was well-known for its outer wall bricks, which are made of knotty glazed quarry tiles, hence the name, "Knotty Building." Now it has been turned into a restaurant named "Yue Wei Xian" that serves Guangdong cuisine.

Since nearly all these buildings are two or three stories tall, they are called "small Western-style villas" by locals. As representatives of foreign influence in modern China, they have become a symbol of Tianjin's history and form a unique aspect of the city's culture.

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