Working Vertically

There is a huge construction project in Shanghai with goals to add a roof to the old residential buildings. It is called 平改坡 (or roof to slope) project.

In the 1980s, a certain type of residential buildings were built widely all around China. Below is the picture of this type of houses in Changsha in central China. These houses don’t have a sloping roof and look bad.


© Jian Shuo Wang. Ugly houses in Changsha

Unfortunately, most of the houses built in 1980s and early 1990s are the same, which were called matchbox houses.

The good news is, Shanghai government has working very hard to remodel the houses by adding a roofs to them. Below is a picture I took from the top of the Metro Tower. The red roofs of the houses were added in the recent two years.

© Jian Shuo Wang. Houses with roofs in Xujiahui

Working Vertically

Below are the scene of the construction of adding the roof. The house was surrounded by the temp frames so workers can pain the house and add the roof. I took some pictures of the interesting scene. Many works line up vertically along the wall of the house and transfer building materials from top of the house down to the ground, hand by hand.


© Jian Shuo Wang. Workers line up vertically to transfer the building materials down to ground


© Jian Shuo Wang.

It was so funny.

6 thoughts on “Working Vertically

  1. I accidentally happened to find your blog site. It was interesting. I like to read your blog, probably because I am home-sick :-(. I was born and grew up in Shanghai in the first 23 years of my life. It has been 12 years since I left for US in 1992. I bought a condo last year in Shanghai. And it was just completed and delivered this month. I really wanna to see how it looks now. The condo is just next door to Jin Jiang Le Yuan. I felt so close and passionate when I saw the pictures in your blog. I didn’t feel I fell love with Shanghai when I physically lived there. However I virtually miss itÂ….and so much though.

    This is just like: “Outsiders want to come in, Insiders want to go out.”

    People are weird, aren’t they?

    Thanks for your blog


  2. Seeing the photos of the workers passing materials up and down reminds me of a lesson I once taught while in Shanghai. I was teaching some engineers from Tongji University to design Sprint cell sites here in the U.S. I was explaining that it was difficult for some of the field engineers here to prepare a good sketch and gather correct information when you are the only person at the site required to do so. In the lesson I wanted everyone to prepare a sketch of a small area outside of our building, making sure to use correct dimensions for this area. The lesson backfired as the students explained that it was too difficult for one person to do all the work on their own so they “hired” some of the other students to take the measurements and prepare the sketch. Their reasoning was that manpower was cheaper in China they could afford to hire extra help to complete this task.

  3. I believe that this kind of construction project is now spreading all over the major cities in China. This of course has been driven by the government to make those places look better. Most of these buildings are state-owned properties. But what if some buidings in those areas are owned by individuals? Are they still required to do it?

  4. Hey Jian Shuo,

    Hope you are enjoying your new home in Pudong, I can’t wait for some photos. I had a question about the new roofs, what happened to all the residents’ old TV satellites? Will the government begin to enforce the ban by not letting residents put satellites on their new roofs? Just wondering, as I didn’t see any satellites on the new roofs in the photo, yet most of the old “flat roofed” buildings still have them.

  5. Take care when you shoot such photos Jianshuo.

    In the year 2002, 200 construction workers fell down and surely died in Shanghai.

    The injured survivors didn’t count.

    City officials has now set a target of a 10% reduction every forthcoming year, that’s really something !

    So this year we only have to look out for some 160 “meat-bombs” – that’s a relief…

    The webworks of bamboo should all have put on strong enough security nets at the outside.

    But who will demand for that ? It will cost some money.

    I remember a line in a Lonely Planet travel book : “In Shanghai traffic – look to the right, left, back, forward and UP” (for falling construction parts and workers).

    I have only had one experience so far, that was on the south corner of Pudong Nan Lu and Dongchang Lu, where a big bag of heavy garbage (appprox. 8-10 kg) was thrown from 10. floor and smashed down right in front of the entrance of the bank below, where people were passing by.

    Sure that this will not happen to you, but anyway, watch UP !

  6. 你这恶心的上海人 比较中国城市之间的差距来满足你这狗屁上海人的虚荣心 难怪上海人在我们留学生眼中评价那么低 英文都说不好 还用英文来写文章 恶心!!! 是 roofs not a roofs 是has been working not has working

    这些民工都很可怜 好不好 不知道你最后一句so funny是怎么来的

    u sick bastard

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