Wedding at Amanyangyun & Bellagio Hotel, Shanghai
FACT: This was the first time we've visited this city and for Tu, it was even his first time visiting China.
So shooting a wedding in Shanghai of the two cool kids Jenny & Brandon was even way more cool!
What can we say about Shanghai? It surprised and overpassed our expectation. If we have to describe Shanghai in one sentence, it would be: This is the city where the past meets the future.
The city is located in a critical geopolitical position on the Yangtze River Delta, the major route into China's interior, and has been, for much of its history, the Chinese city most closely linked to the rest of the world. And now, the focusof the world economy is shifting steadily to where it started.
Shanghai is growing at a rate of 700,000 to 800,000 people a year. Toronto, the fastest growing urban area in Europe or North America, grows only 100,000 to 125,000 a year. London and New York are much slower behind. There has never been such a hugh urbanization at this scale. And as an inevitable consequence like allthe other world's major cities, Shanghai is struggling to cope with growth, and how to give its citizens a decent urban quality of life in this number.
But as much imperfect as it is, Shanghai may be the best example of working megascale urban planning. Historic districts and architectures are well preserved. The longest, most extensive metro system and still growing. The long term planning provides a solid, flexible structure to carry the population that is coming. When we were there, we didn't see a lots of car. Traffic was amazing for a city with over 24 millions of people. Culture and heritage preservation aligned with development's rate. A city of many contrasts - just like a love story or a marriage, combining from two very different individuals - that's what we're trying to convey through this story.
This year we had a few times teaming up with Aman Resorts such as Amanoi and Amanyangyun, and o few other interesting projects in the future. Of course Aman is a high-end name with 10/10 quality but luxury brand in the hospital sector is definitely not something lacking, so what makes Aman different and unique?
They were able to build enthusiasts and followers who become a #amanjunkie community because of their very own philosophy of life, just like the name Aman in Sanskrit language: "Peace", "Shelter". And there are always some amazing backstories every Aman property like Amanyangyun - we'd love to work with partners who have distinctive style and philosophy and not care about the mainstream.
Talking about Amanyangyun, we have to go back to 17 years ago, 2002 when the Chinese government decided to build Liao Fang water reservoir in Fuzhou (Jiangxi) - part of the "Three Gorges Dam" hydroelectric dam system. Remember that China builds more than one-fifth of all dams in the world with tens of thousands of irrigation dams with at least 15 meters height, 40% of which are for pastoral stock water supplies - all have heavy impact to the natural environment and social life of local people.
Once Liao Fang was completed (it was actually completed in 2006), hundreds of villages including ancient Ming / Qing villages and camphor forests over a thousand years old would sink to the bottom of the reservoir forever. Lost forever. During that time the 29-year-old Fuzhou born billionaire Ma Dadong came back from Shanghai to visit his family. When he learned about that fact he had decided to negotiate with the Chinese government to buy over 50 ancient buildings in several villages and ten thousand camphor trees just to move them away.
"My instincts tell me to save the most precious things, the physical entity that was attached to childhood memories. I know this is what I would do without hesitation, but at that time I didn't know what to do with a bunch of houses and trees after that."
Despite having a huge financial assets, even Ma did not expect that this would become a long-term, costly project worth millions of dollars needing a lot of resources.
"It's a huge and slow learning curve. Just like digging a well, we don't know how to go down to get water, but one thing is certain: without stopping digging, one day one will reach the groundwater."
Each of the ancient buildings was built from 200 thousand bricks and they need to be carefully dismantled and carefully preserved in a 200,000 square meter warehouse in Shanghai by 200 people to be assembled later. Seeking out rare craftsmen who are familiar with traditional construction techniques. Expert arborists were enquired to pick up 10 thousand roots of camphor trees over 1000 years old, with some trees are more than 20 meters high and 80 tons in weight, to preserve them, avoid excessive sun exposure and daily watering. Fuzhou is a remote area wrapping around the mountain with many narrow mountain passes, so super huge trucks can go through. Ma decided to build new roads and bridges, but during transport, the rainy season flood has overturned many vehicles and destroyed bridges and roads, even causing some casualties.
It was truly a race with time for many years, but in the end it was worth the effort. 80% of the camphor trees survived the 800km journey from Fuzhou to the outskirts of Shanghai. 1150 trees are planted around Amanyangyun now, the rest are made into national parks in public land for people to visit for free.
In 2005, Ma began assembling and testing a building and called The Concept House, adding elements of innovative aesthetics and modern-day features. In 2009, he organized a party at the test house, one of the guests being invited is the Indonesian billionaire Adrian Zecha, founder and former president of Aman now. Zecha with all his vision and enthusiasm convinced Ma to turn this project into a part of Aman's value and philosophy.
Day 1: Welcome Dinner at Bellagio Hotel
Day 2: Tea Ceremony at Bellagio Hotel
Day 2: Wedding at Amanyangyun
Hey friends! We're Tu & Tara, a wedding photographer & videographer duo. While splitting our time between Europe / Asia, we travel all over the world (40 countries and counting) capturing adventure elopement and intimate destination wedding. We love art, classic cinema, reading great fictions, good food, outdoor activities and seeking adventure in the wilderness. Join and let us tell your epic story in your own way through photographs and film, but first and foremost have fun while doing it!
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