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Formerly a rural regional capital city, Chengdu has undergone drastic growth in the past 20 years, becoming an industrial powerhouse and the fifth largest metropolitan region in China with 15 million inhabitants.
Now is your chance to reach this market, by joining our iF design center Chengdu project. Set to open in April 2018, the iF design center Chengdu will be a landmark of design quality in Western China and a unique opportunity for companies, designers and start ups.
Watch the video below or download our project summary document for more information.
Fang Liu and Melanie du Toit tell us about their experiences when they visited "the home of the panda". Two persons – two stories. Enjoy!
It was three years ago when I was travelling to Chengdu with my best friend, who was unfamiliar with the city.
Pointing out the bus window, she asked me, "What’s over there?". I looked out the window: The street was buzzing with tourists, but oddly I didn’t recognize the place. It was only when we got closer that it dawned on me: it was the famous Kuanzhai Alley! The landmark from the Qing Dynasty had taken on a complete new face. Awkwardly, I had to admit to my friend that I am not familiar with the city anymore.
In the 18 years since I left Chengdu, the city has undergone an unprecedented change. The size of the city has tripled, five metro lines have been opened, numerous shopping malls and skyscrapers have been built. Walking in the city, while amazed at this new and modern city, I do wonder with traces of my past fast fading: Will one day Chengdu become totally unrecognisable to me? Will I lose my hometown forever?
Yet my Chengdu dialect is the first thing I switch on the minute the plane lands. The smell of red hot spicy hot-pot in the air is still deliciously reassuring.
In summer there are still old people selling white champaca flowers which you can pin on your clothes (they smell lovely all day long). The bamboos in Du Fu Cottage are as green as ever against the red wall, and the stories of the Three Kingdoms that I grew up listening to are still being retold at the Sichuan Opera.
Even after 18 years, I can still spend an entire afternoon in the tea house with my friends drinking jasmine tea, talking about everything and nothing at all. It is at these small moments my heart melts as it cries out, "Oh, how great it is to be home!".
I realize I am a stranger in my own hometown.
Landing in Chengdu, the first thing I look for is a map of the city. I spot the nearest information desk. I frown when I see that all the maps are written in Chinese symbols. “Could I please have an English map?” I ask optimistically. The petite desk attendant looks at me and says: "听不懂" – tīngbùdǒng, which means she does not understand. Finding a green Taxi is easy, explaining to the driver where you want to go without knowing any local Chinese phrases – not so much.
Driving into the city I am flabbergasted by the liveliness. The unceasing sounds of bicycle bells, motorbike hoots and traditional music fills the big city’s polluted air. Concrete and jungle meet where tall buildings, overgrown by creeper plants, provide housing for over 14 million people.
Do not expect anything that you are used to when visiting this vibrant city. Flashy restaurants make way for cosy family-owned eateries and food carts. Ordering food can become frustrating if you can’t read or understand the menu but the low cost of freshly made meals predominantly makes up for it. Steam buns, dan-dan noodles, rabbit heads, frogs, and chicken feet are but just some of the spicy dishes that end up in front of you when you point at something written in Chinese.
Groups of ladies are dancing in open parks while men are playing basketball with their shirts lifted up to show off their stomachs. Children are laughing and playing on the sidewalks. But just for a moment all of the locals stop when a foreigner walks by, staring in amazement at something that they rarely see wandering the streets of this old traditional city. We stare at each other for a moment, we smile and sometimes even talk with neither of us understanding a word.
Chengdu – Home of the panda, numbing Sichuan pepper and the world’s largest building, will slowly crawl under your skin and become part of you.