Wukanghui: Renovation Boosts Community Management


The regular layout of a residents’ committee often features white walls, conference tables, stacked chairs and a limited space in general.


The ideal separation of functions on daily work, activities and conferences are not easily accomplished. Bai Zufang, secretary of the Wukang residential area in the Hunan sub-district was also baffled by the simple fact that activities and conferences couldn’t be held together at the residents’ committee.


A few days ago, when Xuhui District Mayor Fang Shizhong was carrying out a major investigation, Wukanghui, a miniature version of the Linlihui, was already renovated: Wang Pingzhong, famous designer from the “Dream Home” show, again performed the "magic" of space, after which the mess was gone, more available space was created, and the environment was improved, without adding extra floor area.


On March 13, our reporter came to the “Wukanghui” in the bright spring and experienced the “living room” of the residents in this historic display area.


A "three-in-one door" enables different functions


There are three venues for the Wukang residential area. The one in Zhongnan Xincun, No.14 of Lane 1670 on Middle Huaihai Road is the headquarters and main venue for daily work and activities. Zhongnan Xincun was built in the 1940s and is one of the seven outstanding historic buildings in Shanghai under the management of ​​Wukang Residents’ Committee.


Right into the black lacquer door, a tall southern magnolia in the courtyard stands with taste and casts shadows under the sunlight. "Influenced by large trees, the conference room on the first floor used to be poorly lit." Now, the indoor lighting simulates the sunlight; outside the window guards, the sun shines through, bright but not dazzling. There is a LCD TV in the middle of the background wall and calligraphy scrolls on the sides, which adds a sense of culture to the community.


The "living room" features a tailor-made "three-in-one door" which can change themes on demand: secrets were hidden inside the door. In the center is a large-screen TV wall; on the left is the honor wall which, fully utilizing shelves and three-dimensional space, now displays the previously hidden honors medals; into the right door is an 8 square-meter office for mediation, comprehensive management and police affairs. The hung shelves and exquisite office furniture are neat, bright, and sufficient for all functions. The sunshine lit "living room" before the "three-in-one door" is now able to hold meetings, lectures and activities.


A mirror turns dining room into a practicing space


Another venue for the Wukang residential area is on No. 1704 Middle Huaihai Road. It used to a residential dining room, where the narrow space wasn’t fully used most of the time. Now it has become a “Together" classroom, where a projector is hung on one wall and a mirror on the other, so it looks larger and can be used as a practice room. "People can practice drums or take yoga classes," said designer Wang Pingzhong.


According to officials at Hunan sub-district, by preserving the dining function and adding functions for learning and practicing, they hoped that old people in the Wukang community can drink tea, dine, study and watch movies together, and that the place could be an ideal place for them to accompany each other in their retirement life.


On the same day, the "cheongsam class" was practicing. Middle-aged ladies dressed in various cheongsams was practicing catwalks and gestures, full of feminine charm (photo by Zhang Wenjing). They told our reporter that the oldest of the team was more than 80 years old, among whom was also granddaughter of Lin Zexu, the famous patriotic general in Qing Dynasty. Resident Ms. Tu was visiting old friends, and after seeing their cheongsam show, she couldn't help but keep commending them. “They have great aesthetics and self-cultivation,” in her view, the Hunan sub-district is among the top in Shanghai, and the Wukang residents’ committee is the best of the best. “Life in the past was hard, and it is now so different!”


The “dream trip” continues


No. 5 Hunan Road is another site for outdoor renovation. The place place where old furniture was piled up and vehicles were parked was cleaned up; tree pools, flower boxes, blue bricks, pebbles, and wooden floors were installed to reinstate nature. The idle place was occupied for making soap and holding popular science lectures. With the beautiful flowers and songs of birds, people feel but comfort.


Bai Zufang and other officials regard this renovation as a "dream trip." From turning to famous host Xia Lei for help only to see if it works, to the numerous visits by Wang Pingzhong, the layout was changed several times to strike a balance between the best effect and the limited budget; without their enthusiastic efforts, there would be no such beautiful "living room" for residents.


In addition to the designer who didn’t charge for the work, the officials’ list of thanks also includes: the Shanghai Real Estate Science Research Institute, their co-construction unit, who sent appointed experts to diagnose water seepage problems in old houses; Hengfu Property Management offered solutions for leaking on roofs, clogged pipes, and unstable bearing structures; Baixing Decoration gave up its profits to accommodate the limited budget while ensuring quality; In the hottest days last year where the project was in the most critical phase, Risheng Environment Cleaning Service removed the construction waste free of charge; in the half a year of renovation, Nanying Hotel provided rooms for the residents’ committee for office use.


The transformation of "Wukanghui" "has stirred up a trend. The reporter was informed that the other two residents’ committees along the Middle Huaihai Road under Hunan sub-district are also considering optimizing their space and adding functions through creative and innovative design, so that more residents can experience a brand new public living room.

(Report by Zhang Wenjing)