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Updated: 2021-08-20 10:22 ( China Daily )
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The century-old Yuyuan Road in Shanghai's Changning district is an example of an urban renewal project that manages to strike a balance between the introduction of new, modern businesses and the preservation of historical buildings. GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY

Aldo Cibic has lived in Shanghai for about three years, but many people in the city already know of him. The 64-year-old, an established figure in the global design fraternity and one of the founding members of the Italian design and architecture collective Memphis Group, recently made the headlines in local media in Shanghai after he revamped the interiors of his residence, a tiny space nestled in the Anshan No 5 Community, a residential complex in Yangpu district, which was built in the 1990s.

Sporting a colorful, modern and minimalist design, his 34-square-meter studio apartment bears a stark contrast in comparison to thousands of similar apartments in the city that are overcrowded and old.

"I want to do something very simple... something that would give me a sense of home," says Cibic about the thinking behind his renovation concept. "The purpose is to show others that simple materials and designs can create something beautiful in life."

This contrast between the old and new is one that Cibic is immersed in on the professional front as well. As the creative director of NICE 2035(Neighborhood of Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship for 2035), the Italian infuses old communities with contemporary elements while also preserving their old-world charm.

The NICE 2035 project was initiated in 2018 by Lou Yongqi, the former dean of the College of Design and Innovation at Tongji University, in response to the municipal government's Shanghai 2035 master plan, which was published that same year. According to the plan, the city will make a concerted effort to create public spaces for human interactions and carry out urban renewal in old communities.

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