Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master in Interior Architecture [Adaptive Reuse]


Interior Architecture

First Advisor

Jonathan Bell

Second Advisor

Markus Berger

Third Advisor

Julia Bernert


Shanghai was primarily an industrial city from the 19th century to the 20th century. By serving as a carrier of time, the past industrial architecture in Shanghai is invested with the collective memory of its past inhabitants. Now that Shanghai has entered the post-industrial period, according to the Shanghai 2035 Urban Plan, the Yangshupu Industrial Zone will be transformed into a new Central Activity Zone. As a result of this plan, old residential neighborhoods nearby will be demolished and replaced by new high-rise residential buildings. The relationship between old residential areas and industrial buildings will be uprooted. Memories of industry will fade over time.

The gasometers located in Yangshupu Industrial Zone condense the memory of industrial work over that period. Today they have fallen inactive, becoming silent symbols. Is it possible to reconstruct a place within the gasometers for the old residents, new residents and younger generation to learn or retrieve the spirits of the industrial memory in Shanghai? How do you save the industrial memory? What is the relationship between the new community and the industrial buildings? By reorienting the gasometer in the context of modern time and space, these industrial ‘symbols’ will communicate meaning: The gasometers can be a place for old and new Shanghai residents and the younger generation to know and inherit their past. Adaptive reuse of the gasometers is a stand against the erasure of historical memory through high-speed development. The gasometers will be containers of time.

As Jan Assmann wrote,“ ... collective memory operates simultaneously in two directions: backward and forward. It not only reconstructs the past but it also organizes the experience of the present and the future.” By including the community centers, the gasometers also provide an opportunity to the old Shanghai residents, new Shanghai residents of the surrounding residential towers and the new younger generation without industrial heritage, to share their memories and develop community trust and intimacy. Memory nourishes self-identity and social-identity. The individual will reconstruct their self-identity and social-identity in this place of memory. In this way, the residents of Shanghai will be rooted to the land. By protecting the historical value of the Shanghai gasometers and connecting the community to the city's industrial history, the future will be built with a better understanding of the past.


View exhibition online: Liman Wei, The Retrieval of Memory: Holding Time in the Shanghai Gasometers



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