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Revitalizing abandoned factories at 871 West

By in Travel on

In many directions, the outskirts of Kunming peter out from apartment blocks and well-paved roads to random white-tiled villages and farmland. Sprinkled throughout these outlying areas are decommissioned factories, some abandoned for decades. It is here amongst some of these empty and often trashed structures that enterprising and aspiring real estate moguls are staking claims.

One example, located in Kunming's north off of Longquan Lu, is the 871 West development (871西区). The 3.7-hectare collection of brick warehouses and former factories is now managed by Yang Jie (杨杰), owner of Kunming-based new media firm S-MAX Digital Technology. He has big plans for the spaces, which while currently giving off the appearance of being run-down and derelict from the outside, contain mostly well-preserved and capacious interiors.

The entire area where 871 West now sits was a heavy machinery production factory in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. It was originally built at the beginning of China's Great Leap Forward, a period of intense industrialization. Enormous machines used in the mining of gold, silver and coal were the main products churned out by these factories. Over the years, plant production slowed and then became outdated. Eventually the entire facility was shut down and stripped of its manufacturing equipment.

Lonely and deserted, the complex sat disused for years until catching Yang's eye. His plan is to transform the area into an artistic and innovative hub, one with a focus on what he bills as "culturally creative industries". Yang's main goal, outside of injecting new life to this once-deserted part of town, is to provide a public venue where imaginative people from a variety of backgrounds can work and think together.

"Kunming is full of expressive and artistic enthusiasm. And a setting such as 871 West — because of it's obvious age and history — can be an ideal space where the past collides with current ideas of fashion and design, all augmented by today's internet-based technology," says Yang.

In the future, according to Yang's ideas, the former factory district will become the site of a sort of multi-purpose creative commune. It will encompass work and public spaces, markets, photography and art exhibition compounds and a concert venue.

As a first step in that direction, one part of 871 West — a 2,000 square meter venue — will play host to a fashion show on January 16. The event features garments designed by Stone (石头), the costume creator for Yang Liping's stage production, Peacock. The runway show is a showcase of Stone's clothing line called Hidden Forest (隐藏的森林). It begins at 7:30pm.

GoKunming has a limited number of tickets to the fashion show. For those who would like to attend, we will give away pairs of tickets to the first people who write us via the website's contact form. Please add 'fashion show' to the subject line and include your name and phone number.

Images: S-MAX

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Who is S-MAX?

"culturally creative industries".
dream on..............

provide a public venue where imaginative people from a variety of backgrounds can work and think together.
dream on..............

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