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Suburban Pingfeng Village becomes cultural hub

The universities moved in first, then luxury villas, and now artists. Pingfeng Village has gotten a major face-lift as it has changed from a nondescript suburb town into a culturally rich scene.

The village, embraced by hills in west Hangzhou, used to welcome visitors from the urban area only on Chinese Tomb-sweeping Day because it had a large cemetery.

In the past decade, the cemetery has been moved while arrivals have included the Zhejiang University of Technology, Hangzhou Foreign Language School and Zhejiang Foreign Language College, as well as nice villas built on the hillside.

Another departure has been a stated-owned enterprise, Eastcom Communications Company, leaving its old electronics factory with a history of more than 50 years, which is now named Eastcom Creative Park and houses several art studios.

Locals in the town have grown accustomed to the faces of college students, hipsters and luxury cars, and they proudly note that many artists and college teachers are their neighbors.

The mingling of a small suburban town and fancy art studios has lured more people to visit, so Shanghai Daily just took a tour to see what’s new in the town.  Fnji Furniture

The wooden tables, chairs, cabinets, beds and sofas are as simple as they can be: no carving or painting, neat, clean, natural and high-end, like Chinese-style Bauhaus furniture.

Despite their simple shapes, there is design in the details, like a chair with a slightly concave seat and a back that holds people’s spines in a supportive position, with legs that are sharp and elegantly inclined outward.

The Chinese round-back armchairs popular 300 or 400 years ago are also seen, but unlike traditional ones, they are varnished and lack carvings.

Muji bedclothes match the beds. Dried plants, like dried fruit and tree branches, decorate the place.

Created by designer Gu Qigao, the brand is expected to “discover meaningful things invented by ancient Chinese people and use them to serve modern Chinese people,” according to Gu.

Though the furniture store appears very distinctive in the small suburban town, it matches the hills and green surroundings rather well.

Coffee and cakes are provided at a cheap price — a cup of coffee and cookies is only 29 yuan, while a small pizza is 38 yuan.

Address: Bldg 15, Eastcom Creative Park, 139 Liuhe Rd

Website: www.fnji.com  Canteen of Zhejiang Foreign Language College

This canteen is not as much a highlight for diners as it is for photography fans, because it is more than 50 years old and has not been renovated for decades.

It looks about like it did 50 years ago, just older.

A white wall is painted with green smooth varnish about 1.5 meters high on the wall, like many old houses. It was popular to do so to keep the wall clean, while economizing by not painting the entire wall.

Two electric ceiling fans work normally, despite being half a century old. Food is passed from the kitchen through a window in the wall that is tinted black and grimy after so many years.

The huge old rice cooker and plastic thermos seem modern by comparison.

Cooks say that since the canteen belongs to Eastcom, they are not allowed to renovate it even though it has been leased to Zhejiang Foreign Language College.

“From time to time we get visited by hipsters, mostly artists and students nearby,” said a cook at the canteen. “They just like to shoot photos of the old place.”

Address: Enter the gate of Zhejiang Foreign Language College and walk for 200 meters — you will see it.  Second Space of InnaÕs Contemporary Art Space

The space was renovated from a former workshop of Eastcom. While the red brick walls and rusted iron gates were preserved, avant-garde furniture and artworks announce its prominence as an art gallery.

Two exhibitions are underway now — “H.cooperi var Truncata — Wang Fei’s Photography Exhibition” and “The Light — HAFF Invited Exhibition.”

H.cooperi var Truncata is a small, draught-tolerant plant, and photographer Wang Fei took one of these, which had survived a fire and was revived through intensive care by the owner, with him on a hike of Chhogori, or K2, in Pakistan, the second-highest mountain in the world.

He asked people he met on the way to hold the plant and took photos of them.

“The Light — HAFF Invited Exhibition” is a part of 5th Hangzhou Asian Film Festival being held through Saturday.

The exhibition displays the mascot of the film festival created by gallery artist Chen Dongfan, and also 11 pieces or groups of art in the form of paintings, videos and installations.

Artist brothers Chen Yujun and Chen Yufan, who have been gaining international fame, brought an installation from their series of art programs called “Mulan Stream,” named after a real stream in their hometown of Putian city in Fujian Province, which is known as the hometown of many overseas Chinese families.

An old wardrobe is carved with a five-pointed star and equipped with an old-style Chinese wooden suitcase, and alongside is a long-wood box filled with lots of fashion magazines. The project aims to symbolize the fact that many Chinese are returning to ancestral hometowns from foreign countries.

Japanese artist Ushi Daigo, who is living and working in Hangzhou, exhibited his latest installation work “Resonance,” which has three different porcelain vases that make different sounds depending on vibrations from an iron plate below.

 

Address: Bldg 13, Eastcom Creative Park, 139 Liuhe Rd

 


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