Sunday, November 19The Voice of London

On the radar: Is Shenzhen’s creative hub going to change the way we think about China?

Overpopulated cities, cheap-labour workers and smog-wreathed urban landscapes – what else can one think when it comes to describing China? The ‘mecca’ of fake-goods, Shenzhen is to scrap the conventional stereotypes and attract more tourists with its brainchild creative hub.

Reporter: Alina Isachenka, Subeditor: Mariya Grinina

Shenzhen city landscape. Source: unsplash.com
Shenzhen city landscape. Source: unsplash.com

Looking at the striking landscape of the fast-paced city, it’s hard to believe that only 30 years ago Shenzhen was a small fishing-village best known for its close location to Hong Kong. Now Shenzhen envisions itself as an emerging creative hub, welcoming a new wave of visitors and creative professionals within the shores of a communist China.

OCT Loft panoramic view. Source: OCT Loft website
OCT Loft panoramic view. Source: OCT Loft website

In 2007 the southeastern Chinese city saw the launch of the OCT loft – a creative hub of art and design in the Shenzhen’s original industrial zone.

Covering an area of 150,000 square meters brutal communist factory reinvented as a creative park houses both Chinese and western art galleries, design studios, furniture stores and other creative initiatives. With its artistic bazaars, outdoor cafes, drink-diverse bars and avant-garde bands’ performances, OCT Loft has become a part of a lifestyle for Chinese dwellers and the expats communities alike. A place worth visiting is Idutang bar. Located in the heart of the district, it’s a cluster of performing talent, with the art exhibitors, music and film performances taking place daily.

An artwork in front of a cafe in the OCT Loft. Source: AP Photo/Kelvin Chan
An artwork in front of a cafe in the OCT Loft. Source: AP Photo/Kelvin Chan

Set out ‘to integrate global resources earmarked for contemporary Chinese art, and to promote exchanges and interactions between China and the world in this respect’, per the local think-tank Wiki Shenzhen, this urban project was also awarded the ‘City of Design’ status by UNESCO in 2008.

Apart from the OCT loft, Shenzhen has earned its ‘creative hub’ status by hosting an annual Design Award for Young Talents under the age of 35. The award focuses on the breakthroughs in environmental sustainability and improving the quality of life in cities, whilst encouraging participation at international level.

Integrating the world’s talent while promoting the image of contemporary Chinese art outside its shores, Shenzhen’s OCT Loft is one more reason to witness the world’s fastest growing country.

Website: www.octloft.cn

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