Shanghai Urban Planning Museum

The Shanghai Urban Planning Museum (Shànghǎi Chéngshì Guīhuà Zhǎnlǎn Guǎn, 上海城市规划展览馆) is not as dull as its name implies. Few cities have changed so rapidly in such a short time as Shanghai, with its tripling of available metro lines in eight years (and plans to grow to 22 lines in the future), its skyrocketing population, its waves of expanding suburbs and its success hosting the Expo 2010. And to think the skyscrapers in Pudong didn’t exist just 20 years ago.
Shanghai’s architecture provides visual evidence of development’s inexorible march, cataloguing change as this beast of a city, with its rapidly growing population of 23 million people (not including the “floating population” of several million migrants and expats).
Aside from multimedia exhibits (including video, audio and photography) detailing Shanghai‘s urban development from its origins as a few lowly temples and rice patties centuries ago to its hyper-futuristic plans for the decades ahead, there are two main highlights: a massive miniature model of central Shanghai which covers an area almost the size of a basketball court and a computer generated tour of the city, set in an immersive, fully panoramic media envirnonment—complete with kitschy music, CGI cartoon characters and a whole lot of candy-coated optimism.
If you have visitors in town, take them to the Urban Planning Museum to help them get their bearings in the city and for a megadose of Shanghai’s unique brand of futuristic hype. You need at least an hour to see everything. The fifth floor’s quiet coffee bar is a good place to overlook People’s Square and recover from overstimulation.


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