Polifactory China | This is an on-going research project in Shanghai developed by Polifactory and directed by Alvaro Leonardo, the Spanish architect who in summer 2009 discovered the first clues about Abelardo Lafuente’s exploits in Shanghai. Since Leonardo’s first presentation in September 2010 at the Shanghai Expo, he continues to share findings with Shanghai citizens and the Spanish community about the previously unknown Lafuente’s works, businesses and life.

Alvaro Leonardo’s goal is to uncover and shed light on the cultural ties between China and Spain during one of Shanghai’s golden ages, he was working with Spanish Ceramic Tiles in his projects in Shanghai and introducing the Mozarab Spanish style. He is preparing a publication that will unify all the original and unpublished information from this period describing Spanish culture in China.

Abelardo Lafuente Garcia-Rojo Architect (Madrid 1871- Shanghai 1931)

Abelardo Lafuente, who was the only Spanish architect to practise in Shanghai between the years 1913 and 1931, constructed a wide range of magnificent architecture in, and around, the city. His most important works included cinema buildings for Antonio Ramos, a Spanish businessman who introduced the cinema to China, and hotel projects commissioned by The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited. Lafuente undertook the conversion of the former McBain family home into the Majestic Hotel in 1923, adding a magnificent ballroom and modelled the ballroom at the Astor Hotel, which survives to this day. He also built churches, mosques, garages, luxurious villas, apartment buildings, office buildings and at least one public hospital. Lafuente also won a competition for a new American Consulate on Suzhou Creek in 1917 and introduced the ‘Mozarab’ architectural style to China, using modern concrete slabs as building materials. Before establishing his own architectural practice he worked as a partner with the American architect, G .O. Wootten, and in his later years was associated with the renowned Russian architect, A. J. Yaron. Lafuente died in Shanghai in December 1931.

Intrigued by a review on the architect in an old Spanish newspaper, Mr. Leonardo’s investigation into Abelardo Lafuente’s life and work began in autumn 2009. His voyage of discovery was a truly remarkable journey, with twists of fate leading a path to an undisturbed Lafuente family archive in Spain. Text based on our lecture and discovery in Shanghai 2010.



– GUÍA DE SHANGHÁI 2010. Produced by Cervantes Institute and Spanish Pavilion. May 2010. Pg. 11. HERE. (Language: Spanish)

– MIRADAS al exterior. Journal of Diplomacy Information of Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. Oct-Dec 2010. Núm 16. Pg. 62. HERE. (Language: Spanish)

– HOLA CHINA. Negocios y Cultura. Journal for Iberoamerican Information in China (Shanghai). Feb 2011. Pg. 19 (Language: Spanish & Chinese).

– ORIENTAL MORNING POST. Chinese Daily Journal. 8 March 2011. Pg. B3 Culture. (Language: Chinese).

– CHINA NEWS WEBTV. 13 March 2011. “上海市民领略百年在沪西班牙建筑风采”. HERE. (Language: Chinese).

– THE BUND Magazine. Shanghai Weekly Magazine. 11.03.24-11.03.30. “阿贝拉多·拉富恩特的上海往事”. HERE. (Language: Chinese) and THE BUND_On line Magazine HERE, pg 42, 43 and 44.

-SINA Daily.Specialized chinese website in daily stories. 27 March 2011. “阿贝拉多-拉富恩特的上海往事” . (Language: Chinese). HERE.

– ICS CHANNEL TV Shanghai. Friday, 1st April 2011. “Abelardo Lafuente discover in Shanghai”. Program: City Beat. Duration: 5 min. (Language: English). HERE.

> SHANGHAI DAILY : Shanghai Newspaper. Feature Section B4. 11.05.11 “Shanghai´s little-known Spanish style”. Language: English. HERE.

– Radio Nacional de España. Radio Exterior.”La Hora de Asia” by Eloy Ramos. 20th May 2011. “Abelardo Lafuente arquitectura española en Shanghái”. From minute 5:00 to 23:25. (Language: Spanish). HERE.

BABELIA. Saturday Weekly Cultural Issue by El País. 25th June 2011. Num. 1.022. “Un español en el Shanghái precomunista”. (Language: Spanish). HERE.

TERRITORIOS. Saturday Weekly Cultural Issue by El Correo. 3th December 2011. “El gran pionero desconocido”. (Language: Spanish). HERE.

– EL MUNDO. Spanish National Newspaper. 20th December 2011. “Un arquitecto español trabajando en la belle époque china”. (Language: Spanish). HERE.

– TERRA TV. Spanish language web TV of ONLINE videos “Abelardo Lafuente el arquitecto que llevó España a China”. 20th December 2011. (Language: Spanish). HERE.

– BABYLON MAGAZINE. Bilingüal Spanish-English Cultural Magazine “Who is Abelardo Lafuente?”. January-February 2012. (Language: English-Spanish). HERE.

– ABC Y LAS PROVINCIAS. Spanish National Newspapers. 14th February 2012. “Localizado un cine español de 1914 en Shanghái”. (Language: Spanish). HERE.

– EL MUNDO. Spanish National Newspaper. 14th February 2012. “Un siglo de arquitectura española en Shanghái”. (Language: Spanish). HERE.

– TERRA TV. Spanish language web TV of ONLINE videos “Rescatado del olvido un cine español de los años 20 en Shanghái”. 14th February 2012. (Language: Spanish). HERE.

– Shanghai Pictorial Magazine (上海画报). Shanghai Monthly Magazine. “Shanghai´s little know Spanish Style” (Language: Chinese). HERE. pg 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41.

– QUÉ Culture. Spanish National Newspaper. 21th August 2012. “Editan los primeros mapas de Shanghái con los edificios del español Lafuente”. (Language: Spanish). HERE.

– Creative Hunt Shanghai.  Most popular Shanghai Cultural Website. Weekly Cultural Articles. 31th August 2012. “Abelardo Lafuente’s Shanghai Legacy…”. (Language: English). HERE.

El Viajero. Travel and Entertainment blog by El País. 24th September 2012. Viajeros Urbanos. “Huellas españolas en un Shanghái insólito”. (Language: Spanish). HERE.

– Plataforma Arquitectura. Worlwide architectural website in Spanish Version (Archdaily in English). Daily Architecture News. 5th October 2012. “El legado de un arquitecto español en Shanghái”. (Language: Spanish). HERE.

– Traveler Conde Nast Spain. Worldwide Travel Magazine Spain website. Daily destination proposals.  15th January 2013. “¿Qué hace una Alhambra en Shanghái? Exploramos la ‘Little Spain’ china” . (Language: Spanish). HERE.

– CALLEJEROS VIAJEROS. Channel CUATRO (Spain). Documentary program showcasting cities all over the world and its hidden places. Year 5. Program 171. 24 February 2013. “Boda China” Showcasted on minute 41:00 to 41:40. (Language: Spanish). HERE.

CONTUNEGOCIO.ES Spain.Specialized website for entrepreneurs and small local business. Internationalization Section. 11 March 2013. “Tras la pista del primer emprendedor en Shanghái” . (Language: Spanish). HERE.

-Agencia EFE. Article written by Spanish News International Agency and published in different media as: EFE, El Confidencial, ABC, etc… 6 June 2013. “Descubierto en pie uno de los últimos edificios del español Lafuente en China” . (Language: Spanish). HERE, HERE, HERE.

– OTHER WEB NEWS: Metalocus, Scalae, CityWeekend, Cervantes Institute.