Converted from a weather-beaten principal’s dormitory of Muzha Elementary School, the Japanese-style Wenshan Public Assembly Hall is a mix of pristine and modern, old and new. During a negotiation meeting in May, 1999— the purpose of which was to build a consensus over land use between community planners and representatives of NGOs, school faculty, parents and residents —a series of Local Leaders’ Workshops, hearings and general planning sessions were held. The assembly hall project had faced one challenge after another until its groundbreaking ceremony in 2002 and inauguration on October 19th of that same year. A successful example of property renewal, the assembly hall has not only given a new breath of life to an exquisite Japanese structure that was first unveiled in 1927, but also emerged as a hub of effort to preserve the neighborhood’s historical and industrial legacies in the midst of reinforced interest in community engagement.
Built on a 636-m2 estate opposite Wenshan District Office that shoulders Muzha Elementary School, with Jingmei River to its east, the assembly hall is an elegant symbol of grassroots support and heritage preservation, complete with an information desk, an auditorium and a multi-purpose outdoor space ideal for lectures, public art displays, the “Classroom under the Trees” participatory landscape projects, and exhibitions of all sorts.
In addition to photographic displays illustrating Wenshan District’s evolution and economic lifelines, the assembly hall’s two-story new building features exhibits and activities at irregular intervals that involve artists, civic groups or community organizations (on both floors, space is available for rent) in an attempt to encourage high-quality, culturally sophisticated living.
The assembly hall’s old, Japanese-era building was remodeled into an open exhibition space available for lease by individual visitors or groups for academic workshops and intellectually inspiring seminars. Stop by the old-meets-new Wenshan Public Assembly Hall and you will be impressed by how architecturally refined it is, as well as how historically, industrially and ecologically distinctive Wenshan District has always been!