The predatory heritage goblins have devoured yet another piece of historic Shanghai. The former St. Nicholas Church has become a bookstore – and it could easily win the title of the ugliest anywhere in China. You could run the interview with the architect through Google Translate to better understand the sick "poetry behind the design," but I don't recommend that. They claim the metal cage takes the load off the building and spares the walls from having metal rods for bookshelves drilled into it – ah-hah, right.
The incongruous ahistorical moldings from the 1990s restaurant have been lovingly recast and reinstalled:
For comparison – this is what it should have been:
Wedding of Tamara Osipoff and Vladimir Shevchenko in 1941
The metal cage, inspired by the prison aesthetic now entombs the interior vault – how apt for China's zeitgeist, indeed:
Evidently, a bookstore in a heritage building is not a guarantee of its cultural revival and not a vaccine against vandalism. The Russian community activists and diplomats confirmed that they approached the responsible party with offers of expertise and finance for the restoration – and were repeatedly turned down.