Injecting new vigor into old industrial plants
Feb 17,2023

Mottled walls, obsolete machines, high domes... This is the interior view of the old Fengtian industrial site in Tiexi District of Shenyang. On a warm winter afternoon, the sun casts shadows through the skylight on the rusty old machines. Liu Shanshan, an international student from Ecuador, leans down and gently touches the parts of the machines, immersing himself in the past to learn the history of this industrial site.

Liu Shanshan is a student at Shenyang Conservatory of Music. In his spare time, he often wanders around these cultural and creative industrial parks in Tiexi District of Shenyang,Liaoning Province. Through these industrial elements, he explores the history and culture of the old Shenyang industrial base.

Built in 1938, the Fengtian industrial site was once one of the most developed industrial areas in Northeast China. After the factory’s complete relocation in 2006, this largest industrial site in Tiexi District fell into obsolescence. In 2017, the once-abandoned site was transformed into an industrial culture park by a creative designer to pass on the industrial history of this city to the next generation. Nowadays, within a 3-kilometre radius of Fengtian industrial site, 1905 Cultural and Creative Park, Hongmei Cultural and Creative Park and Fengtian Memory Cultural and Creative Park are scattered. Transformed from obsolete factories, these industrial machinery exhibition halls, musical instrument museums, urban study rooms, cinemas and creative bazaars, attract Liu Shanshan’s attention.

 “I was once a student major in science and engineering, so I am interested in the industrial history of Liaoning. And since I am fond of music, I am now studying pop music at Shenyang Conservatory of Music. When I walk around these industrial cultural parks, unexpected inspirations will come to my mind. Especially on midsummer nights, outdoor concerts are often held, with towering chimneys as the backdrop. Beautiful melodies linger among the vintage buildings, creating an artistic atmosphere.” Liu Shanshan said.

Liu Shanshan has attended piano concerts, jazz concerts and rock concerts in this industrial culture park, where he has also made many friends who share same hobbies with him. They often watch art exhibitions, listen to concerts and play musical instruments together. These artistic youths explore this internet-famous site in innovative ways.

As a frequent visitor, Liu praises the preservation and application of Liaoning’s industrial heritage. “By fully retaining the original architecture, the historical buildings are preserved and upgraded to the greatest extent. The integration with modern cultural elements gives the industrial heritage a second life. Both Chinese and foreigners can feel the richness of Liaoning’s industrial culture through these industrial relics, which also inject new vitality into the local economic development.” Liu Shanshan said.

As the old industrial site is taking a new lease of life, it is also taking on new missions: to record the industrial history, to pass on the city’s cultural heritage, and to carry the dream of entrepreneurship.

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