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Why Don’t Emerging Markets Get Patina?

China

It might be a minor detail to some, but for me it’s sad to see the old metal covers adorning the base of every tree in Shanghai’s old French concession being replaced by the usual grey and characterless set of bricks. Sure the tree roots have over time deformed the metal grilles, but couldn’t these have been restored instead of replaced?

Why don’t emerging markets get patina? Don’t they realise that their very own history, culture and heritage are embedded in these idiosyncratic tree covers and historic buildings which ultimately form the cityscape. What would New York be like without its yellow cabs? What if Barcelona decided to remove Gaudi’s ceramics from the Parc Guell because these are old and damaged?

Luckily the French Concession will retain some of its charm and quirks as it experiences more change. Maybe is it also a necessary process younger markets have to go through. After all, didn’t Europe ruin part of its own architectural heritage when it introduced the post-war concrete blocks that adorn most of suburban Europe.

Here’s to a wake up call for the new Chinese generation. Preserve your heritage before it’s too late! Don’t do the same mistake us Europeans did.

Images: The Randomer
  • Yannick Lenormand

    Good one Alex, totally agree

  • Alex Cortey

    Thanks Yannick. great to see the article resonates with people and that they actually care about the city’s history.