I-Factory is a cultural creative park that aims to be the birthplace of a new urban culture. It has been home to fashion shows, film shoots and art exhibitions, plus has hosted large-scale events such as Design Week and TechCrunch.
It’s a free and open space for cultural and creative practitioners to exchange ideas – from inspiration, to production, testing and display. According to World Cities Culture Forum, “I-Factory is housed in a reclaimed industrial heritage site, retaining massive concrete silos, chimneys and a machine hall.”
Image via Joe Macpherson
Creative spaces housed in old industrial areas have become popular in China. From the creative vibe of OCT-Loft, to the sprawling art community of 798 Art Zone in Beijing, these kinds of areas are not uncommon, but how does I-Factory compare? Well for starters this is a far more open and empty space, in fact it felt like I was walking around a ghost town. I only saw one person in the entire time I was there, and he was the guard! I’ve been here during design week and it was thriving and full of energy, but on a standard non-event day, its far, far different. This is changing however, with the introduction of an events space which has housed comedy nights, drama performances and more.
But this is not a bad thing. It gave it an authentic, gritty feel. It actually felt like an old industrial factory, and makes it very, very photogenic. When you enter the space, you are completely free to walk around and explore at your leisure. There are huge empty buildings, dark and dirty, which are interesting to look around but don’t really provide much to see or do. It’s the exterior which provides the fantastic views and great photo opportunities. Huge chimneys, rusted buildings, steel staircases, and cold hard cement give this a heavy urban feel, a lot different to the modern skyscrapers you’ll see on a day-to-day basis in Shenzhen.
Image via Joe Macpherson
The star of the show is the graffiti that is dotted around. Make sure to look everywhere, because some of it is hidden in amusing places. From an angry hippo, to a girl with a gun, and even shared bike art, there will be something that makes you smile. Great for a quick snap, or even a selfie or two, the graffiti murals give this a kick of creativity and raises it above a decaying relic into something more, something out of the ordinary, something intrinsically Shenzhen. So, whether it is worth making the trek out here is up to you. I think it’s worth it – after all, seeing new and interesting places is why we live in Shenzhen, right?
I-Factory. 8 Haiwan Lu, Shekou Industrial Zone, Nanshan District 南山区海湾路8号蛇口价值工厂 Free entry. You will need to sign in on the visitors’ log at the front gate and give your passport number and phone number.
Joe Macpherson, also known as ‘Shenzhen Guide’ is a Welshman who has lived in Shenzhen for six years. He is the go-to person for Shenzhen advice on food, hiking and more. Check out his blog at wanderlustwelshman.com for more in-depth guides, plus other hidden gems in Shenzhen.
[Cover image via Travel Qunar]