Wahaha Hotel / 娃哈哈大酒店

Around the Dongsi area, right next to one of Beijing’s most peaceful traditional neighbourhoods, one building (among others, by the way!) does not quite fit in the hutong1 urban tissue. It is large, high (more than six storeys), ugly (composed of a very basic concrete structure) and it looks abandoned.

Wahaha Hotel, Sept 2015

What I discovered is the former Wahaha Hotel, which used to look like this.

Former aspect of Wahaha Hotel (internet sources)

I found out that this hotel was part of the Longfu Temple area2, a commercial department store built from 1985 to 1988, famous for a serious fire that happened in the street behind the Wahaha hotel in 1993 and left a big ugly building abandoned for 20 years in a hutong area…

Longfu building view from a back alley, July 2015
Longfu building view from a back alley, July 2015

Yes that happens in China. Later on, in 2004, the commercial area was also semi-abandoned. The demolition plan for the place is partly motivated by the extention project of subway line 8 to Dongsi station. Moreover, in 2012, the plan for this area’s redevelopment was published, aiming at transforming the underground area into an exhibition hall and at rebuilding, on the surface, the former Longfu Temple. Going back to the Wahaha hotel in September 2015, I managed to get inside the hotel to take pictures but I had to organize a second visit as I did not bring a flashlight. The building itself is not special: an ordinary luxury hotel just like any other in China, with golden tones revealing the absence of subtle taste.

Entrance hall, Wahaha Hotel, Sept 2015

Nevertheless, two interesting elements can be quite worth taking a few pictures before the place disappears, among which this psychedelic vision.

Psychedelic vision, Wahaha Hotel, Sept 2015

Different floors, different demolition phases

First of all, one can spot the current stage of demolition as the upper levels of the hotel have been demolished while the lower parts are still standing. Contrasts can be quite striking. The upper floors are a mess of debris everywhere.

Demolished second floor, Wahaha Hotel, Oct 2015
Demolished second floor, Wahaha Hotel, Oct 2015

The lower parts of the hotel still have decorations on the walls.

First floor, Wahaha Hotel, Oct 2015
First floor, Wahaha Hotel, Oct 2015
Golden basement walls, Wahaha Hotel, Oct 2015
Sparkling basement walls, Wahaha Hotel, Oct 2015

A very unusual use of the restaurant room: the workers’ dormitory

The most interesting discovery was by far the very unusual way the restaurant room was turned into the workers’ dormitory.

Circles, Wahaha Hotel, Sept 2015
Psychedelic dormitory, Ground floor, Wahaha Hotel, Oct 2015
Appropriation of space, Ground floor, Wahaha Hotel, Oct 2015
Chilling in psychedelic dormitory, Ground Floor, Wahaha Hotel, Oct 2015

N.B. Pour une traduction française de cet article, cliquer ici.

  1. Traditionally, « hutong » are narrow lanes composed of one storey small houses.
  2. Longfu Temple existed before the 1950s and became the popular Dongsi people’s market (东四人民市场) during the socialist period.

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