Dalian Front Doors

Trip Start Aug 01, 2007
Trip End Jul 05, 2008

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Dalian Front Doors

These photos are random, no other criteria other than they include the front of buildings in Dalian China.  These photos are not necessarily about architecture, they are a sample of the buildings and entries on any street in the downtown area.  Any one could be next to the other, even in the same building. 

PHOTO_ID_L=dalianfrontdoor_4.jpg]The City has been built almost completely in the last 100 years, constructed in the styles that suited the political and social agendas of their times - Imperial, Japanese, Russian trying to immitate Moscow, Japanese after Paris, more Japanese for the masses, Russian trying to make friends, Communist, Industrial, Commercial, and now Free-Enterprise-as-long-as-you-know-someone.  &nbs p;

The storefronts are not very literal in a lot of cases. Apartment entries look like grocery stores and vice versa.  Of course, it helps to read Chinese.  I still can't distinguish between a restaurant, health spa, and a pharmacy.  I like the general character and variety of the entries, much more like body langauge than speech.  The quality and maintenance of the storefront can speak louder than the signage, except for the neon, of course. 


Pity the poor bsatard who lives across from the new "food furnishings for your lifestyle" restaurant.  Not only does he get to observe those patrons who find sea worms to be part of their advanced lifestyle, but the light level coming off the neon is noon time radiation in most tropical climates.  I see them staring out their front windows in disbelief.

Most retail has some display window, but there's no other place for those big banner signs - not much script, but big colorful signs that say "Hang your trout dearly", or something involving fish and decor. That pretty much takes up the display window.

As you can see in the photos, in many cases, the door needs to be open before there are any clues about the store.  And the Chinese love vinyl curtains.  So even if the door is open, the beat up, yellowed, faded curtain hangs in the opening, ready to obstruct any piercing glance into what may be occurring inside.

Chinese, especially Dalian, lust for the modern.  That means that buildings are cosmetically "improved" once the newness wears off, or even at openings when the building itself has other tenants.  Some stores have changed their neon signs twice in the last 4 months.  There are crews of steel workers, maybe 12 or 15 guys who go around and make up storefronts for the owners, like the cabbage building.  They have a chop saw, some files, a few hand tools that they carry home each night in their pants, and a welder, but often no mask. The same crew has been working and living out of a vacant commercial space in my neighborhood since I got here in August. 

Next to my building, a space that has never been occupied is undergoing a storefront improvement, 4 stories tall.  A facade of steel frame with some masonry, stucco, sheet metal and fiberglass.  

The club down the street remodeled its storefront with a couple thousand sf of cheesy wood, metal, plastic and lighting.  It's called the Viper, and the theme was snake scales, I'm guessing.  The crew then moved over to a new Police substation and now they are working on the 4 story spa space.  I just hope they don't point one of those neon signs at my window.

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