Shanghai is renowned for its distinctive urban architecture which combines traditional Chinese dwellings, starkly urban high rises and European-inspired buildings from a by-gone era. A stroll through certain residential streets in central Shanghai that remain populated with pre- 1949 housing will leave a visitor with the impression of being in a place distinct, one that is definitely Chinese, as evidenced by the street signs in Chinese characters, but which also bears a vaguely European or even North American cast. Single-family houses are few, and most residences are either in the form of apartment buildings or rows of townhouses, which are situated abutting the sidewalk, with little or no setback from the road. Their exteriors are covered in stucco or are made of red brick or concrete, not the gray bricks of traditional one-story Chinese courtyard-style dwellings. The building designs are diverse, but the reference points are non-Chinese: Spanish colonial, Tudoresque, Art Deco, French1 and various other styles. These styles are represented, not in the gleaming, restored version one sees in revitalized urban centers in Europe or even America, but rather in a shabby style, laced with miscellaneous wires that have been added on over the years, laundry drying and a hodge-podge of air conditioning units that have been retrofitted to aid in enduring Shanghai's summer heat. 1.
K. L. Phillips & Amy L. Sommers, A Tragedy of the Commons: Property Rights Issues in Shanghai Historic Residences, 28 Penn St. Int'l L. Rev. 137 (2009).