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Dongzhimen is Asia’s largest transportation hub, connecting 3 subway lines, buses, the airport express, and the Second Ring Road. The Guoson Centre aimed to take advantage of this with a 600,000 square metre space including a transport interchange, retail mall, five-star luxury hotel, two office towers and residential apartments. However a long term equity dispute lasting 7 years has meant the complex remains unfinished and accumulating debts. The exteriors of the buildings look all but finished from a distance but they are just empty shells. I visited here with a couple of friends on my recent holiday with the intention of scaling one of the abandoned 35 storey twin towers. Unfortunately we were spotted by a nosey neighbour who shouted for security so we had to make do with one of the smaller buildings in the complex instead. Still, at 20 storeys high the views were pretty decent and it was nice to look down on somewhere a bit different from London. There are much bigger skyscrapers than this under construction but I am told they have workers on site 24 hours a day. The unfinished mall was just concrete floors and pillars, I didn't bother getting my camera out as it was dark but I reckon it would definitely be worth a daytime visit as it's pretty huge. The amount of unfinished construction projects in China is astounding, apparently it's quite common there to build the shells of buildings and forget about them for a few years. It's certainly a fast developing country. 1. 2. My first chance to have a play with my new fish eye up high 3. 4. 5. 6. Working through the night 7. 8. 9. Part of the unfinished mall is visible in the bottom left of the shot 10. 11. The abandoned twin towers 12. 13. Raffles City, a roaring success of a similar complex down the road 14. Totally staged 'looking hard and covering my identity' UE selfie Thanks for looking
Part 1. The opportunity arose to visit a friend of mine living in Beijing and it didn't take long for this place to crop up in conversation. He'd heard rumours of people being allowed to walk freely through the site before but this wasn't the case when he'd tried. Security had apparently been stepped up massively so we opted for a more sneaky approach. We made our entrance at the north end of the site where the 4 huge blast furnaces were situated. Once inside we found much more activity on site than we had expected; people on bicycles, people with dogs, cars driving around, parked cars, construction vehicles, it certainly hadn't been deserted by any stretch of the imagination and it was difficult for three of us to remain unseen for long. Many of the buildings were well sealed but we found our way inside a few of them. It's an amazing site, to think that we barely scratched the surface is just crazy. I would guess that we only covered about 5% of the whole site, if that. I've made a long report for this one as it's not somewhere you see every day, I hope you've got a spare 10 minutes to kill! History Shougang Company Ltd steelworks (also known as Capital Steel) began operations in 1919 as a small pig iron plant which eventually expanded to cover a 700 hectare area. It became the largest producer of steel in Northern China. At its peak there were 200,000 workers and an annual output of 10 million tons. The plant had its own apartment complexes, dining halls, schools, hospitals, public bathhouses, cinemas, temples, even a newspaper – Shougang Daily, which regaled readers with stories of steel output in its triumphalist headlines. For many years Shougang’s steel fed the capital’s economy, and virtually the entire district that surrounded the factory. In 2001, when Beijing was awarded the hosting rights for the 2008 Olympic Games, public concerns emerged about the level of Shougang's pollution, it's water usage (the mill required 50 million cubic meters of water annually to run), and their effect on quality of life in the area. A reputation as an industrial centre was no longer something to be proud of and by 2008 much of the plant had shut down. The city was undergoing refurbishment and industry was being moved out. On December 21st 2010, all production ceased and the state-owned company was officially relocated to Caofeidian, Hebei Province. Today works are being carried out to transform Shougang into the “Central Recreational District”. According to the plan, Shougang's old site will blend in with Beijing's urban development retaining many of the plant's original features to honour the legacy of Shougang's long lasting impact on the steel industry. A similar project was carried out in Beijing’s 798 art district with much success. Onto the pictures. 1. These were the first structures we came to, at the top of this road we could see diggers moving around so were already wary of being seen 2. 3. We got up to the silos but felt quite exposed so didn't hang around long 4. 5. We had a hunch there was somebody inside this building, not long later we bumped into a worker next to it who told us we shouldn't be here because there was a danger something might fall on our heads. He didn't seem that bothered though so we said goodbye and moved on. 6. 7. As we reached this empty pool we heard voices just a few metres away and had to hide. Luckily nobody came. 8. This building was situated right next to the pool. It didn't look like much from the outside but there were some nice control panels inside it. 9. 10. The blackboard in the corner had ‘Goodbye Shougang’ written on it 11. 12. 13. Back outside we headed across the undergrowth under a maze of conveyors, the blue one must be the longest I've ever seen. 14. Unfortunately we couldn't find a way inside the conveyors which was a shame as the blue one led straight up to the top of one of the blast furnaces. 15. This long red structure was some kind of train shed 16. As we were passing through it we spotted a man with two dogs outside so had to hide again 17. We started heading towards the larger structures, as we got close to this one we spotted two shiny vehicles parked underneath it so we turned back. 18. At this point all we could hear were lots of big dogs barking and it seemed to get louder the closer we got towards the blast furnaces. 19. It was becoming apparent how huge these furnaces were. 20. As we poked our heads around a corner we were able to take in the sheer size of these bad boys for the first time. Unfortunately there were two workers with dogs tied up in-between us and the furnace. We decided to approach them in case they might let us wander past without a care. They were very friendly but told us to head around the other side and not to try passing the dogs. Again they didn't seem all too bothered about us being there though so we felt a little more relaxed at this point. 21. The dogs weren't quite as friendly as their owners I should add. Look at that beast of a furnace though! By the way this was the smallest one out of the four. 22. 23. Around the other side the furnace was protected by barbed wire topped fences, we should have gone for it there and then but we continued further to look for an easier way in. 24. This way in looked pretty good 25. 26. However there were several vehicles milling about around here and within a few seconds we'd been busted by security. They weren't best happy with us to begin with but after offering them some cigarettes and my friend playing dumb to the fact we weren't allowed to be in there they chilled out a bit. 27. I took a couple of snaps of our surroundings before another vehicle arrived to escort us off site. 28. 29. We were driven the whole length of the site on our way out, it was absolutely huge, as big as a small town. 30. We also caught a glimpse of the larger blast furnaces which made me want to come back and see more.....