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Garden Houses
Using foreign architectural styles and constructed of new building materials, Shanghai's garden houses, in appearance, might well be classified into four styles: the classic; villa-like; Spanish and modern style. The classic style came first. Miniatures of grand palaces, these garden houses were modeled on Renaissance architecture. A little later the villa-like houses became popular. The greater part, landscaped and situated off streets, look a little like English villas with wooden trusses and steep roofs. Garden houses in the Spanish style have gentle roofs, covered ways and balconies. There are many of them in Shanghai, because these house, with their beautifully-carved exteriors, suit Shanghai's climate and are comparatively low in building cost. Those in the modern style are unrestricted in layout and very functional. The exterior, in harmony with the interior, was modeled after international styles then in vogue and the interior, with meticulously-decorated walls, was well partitioned.

The spiral staircase in a garden house

A majestic-looking indoor stairway
Most of the owners of garden houses were rich Chinese or foreign capitalists, high-ranking government officials and VIPs. Their extravagance and love of luxury can be seen in these buildings. The garden house at No.333 Tongren Road, with a sun roof, a canopied drive and a fan-like outdoor stairway leading upstairs, was air-conditioned and equipped with a lift, the first one ever installed in a Shanghai house. The building at Shanxi Road formerly owned by an Englishman is of Norwegian style. Built of firebricks, roofed with glazed tiles from Qinhuangdao and with a special exterior, the building, with its tower looks both exotic and stately. In front of the building once stood a bronze horse, a sign of luck for the Englishman, who made his fortune at the horse races.
Most of Shanghai's garden houses are still in good condition owing to proper use and good care-taking by Shanghai's municipal government and housing management departments. They are standing reflections of the architectural development and characteristics of metropolitan Shanghai at different historical periods.

The indoor garden in Yao Mansion (built in 1946),
whose flat roof is capable of sliding open to let in flowers


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