Sunday, April 16, 2006

Moon River - A Construction Site

Shanghai is in the midst of the world's largest construction boom, ever. There's no getting around it: no matter what area of Shanghai you're in, you're likely to be within view of at least one massive high rise going up.

There's a particularly large apartment complex going up near my apartment. It's still going to be a while before it's finished, but it seems like it will be a fairly upscale, if fairly generic, place to live. It's called "Moon River," a kind of cute name for an apartment built along a polluted stream:



But I like to stay positive, and hope that the apartment complex reflects a commitment to cleaning up the stream, which actually is true with some other Shanghai housing developments. If you notice the bridge, it's a temporary walking bridge. The current bridge is one-lane only, and will be torn down soon.



The bridge doesn't look like it's up to any sort of safety code, and I suspect that's true of the entire project. A simple example is the fact that I could walk through the whole project snapping pictures. There's also the scaffolding on the outside of the buildings, to give access to contruction workers. The shot on the left shows the underside of an American scaffolding system - obviously it isn't a permanent structure, but it looks pretty solid. By comparison, Moon River's scaffolding system is just a series of bars, both on the sides and on the 'floor' of the scaffoldings. Sometimes bamboo stakes are lay down on the floor to make them more stable, but not always.



The workers seem to have a hard life. They used to live in a temporary housing on the worksite, it obviously didn't have plumbing or any amneties:



But that has since been torn down. The construction workers now live in the lower levels of the half-completed buildings.



That might sound overly strange to those outside of Shanghai. Half-finished apartment and office buildings are often occupied in Shanghai, even by fairly normal people and respectable-seeming businesses. I've been inside such offices and you wouldn't know the building was still being worked on, if it wasn't for the occasional drilling noise. With some of Moon River's buildings, floors are still being added to the top of the building, even while windows are being installed in the lower levels. Anyway I can't comment on the living conditions insides of these buildings, I've never been inside to have a look. I've just noticed the laundry hanging outside. There's also a few metal shacks, at night you'll glimpse a few workers laying in hammocks. There's small kitchen areas and card tables nearby.



I wish I could comment more on the work being done. A lot of it is hidden from me, taking place inside the shells of the buildings. What I do see doesn't look substantially different from what you'd see on an American construction site, although you do see a few things being done with massive groups of people rather than a machine, or machinery that looks like it's past its prime.



The picture below is of a different job site, but I was still impressed - how did they get that up on top, anyway, and why?



There does seem to be more workers on hand then there would be at an American site, they don't always look like they're working very hard. It's a hard thing to photograph, but this guy was going slow at it, and a few people were watching him go slow at it:



Sometimes the work goes on through the night, but here workers seem to be coming to an end with the sun setting, 6:00 on a Sunday evening:



And speaking of the sun setting: South Shanghai has a big problem with dust from construction, and today was particularly bad. The haze was something fierce.

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