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Cooperation across borders pushes boundaries of design

By Li Wenfang in Zhanjiang, Guangdong | China Daily | Updated: 2013-07-22 08:20

Cooperation across borders pushes boundaries of design

Residential developments dot the coastline of Zhanjiang. Provided to China Daily

Prominent real estate developer Huang Xiaojun is with a delegation from Zhanjiang on a trip to Australia to inspect buildings designed by its partner.

Huang's company, Zhanjiang Huaxin Real Estate Development Co, has teamed with Melbourne design company Peddle Thorp Melbourne Pty to build two property developments in Zhanjiang, including a complex that functions as a hotel, shopping center and residential facility.

"I have been to Australia, but it's better this time to have Peddle Thorp's people showing us their work rather than just to see it by ourselves," Huang said.

Huang is interested in energy conservation, environmental standards, advanced technology, new materials and greening, which are elements that feature prominently in Peddle Thorp's work.

The company was founded in 1889 and has designed many of Australia's landmark buildings, including the Australian National Tennis Centre, the Melbourne Olympic Park and Velodrome, ESSO Headquarters and the Melbourne Underwater World Aquarium.

Energy efficient designs, such as systems to collect rainwater and harness solar power, have significantly helped lower the costs of property management by cutting water and electricity bills, he said.

The semi-basements in Huaxin's developments are a selling point, providing natural light, fresh air and greenery through the use of special designs, which are also applied to garages and shopping areas.

Energy-saving designs may reduce electricity consumption in a semi-basement by up to 60 percent, he said.

In five years working with Peddle Thorp, Huang has come to learn that his partner is adept at quickly turning his ideas into designs.

"It takes only one or two rounds of communication to produce a proposal that meets our demands," he said.

With offices in Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai, Peddle Thorp Asia, founded in 1998, has established business in 26 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in China.

"With China's ongoing urbanization, its cities will accommodate 1 billion people by 2025. With this rapid urban process, cities have ceased to evolve organically and require sustainable planning," according to a statement on Peddle Thorp Asia's website.

One of the largest developers in Zhanjiang targeting the middle and high-end property market, 10-year-old Huaxin has completed or is building 2 million square meters of space and sold 400,000 square meters of space last year.

With a registered population of 7.85 million people, Zhanjiang has created significant real demand for housing, Huang said, adding that major investment projects will bring more people to the city.

"Zhanjiang has the vitality (to take up property developments)," he said.

Investments into the real estate sector in Zhanjiang rose by 7 percent year-on-year to 11.5 billion yuan ($1.87 billion) last year, according to the city's statistics bureau.

Commercial property sales topped 2.07 million sq m, or 10.74 billion yuan, in the city last year.

Huaxin will take a steady approach in its business amid the nationwide policies to curb the housing price, Huang said.

He spies opportunities in Zhanjiang's investment-heavy Donghai Island, where mammoth complexes for steel, petrochemical and papermaking are taking shape.

The company is identifying land on the island to be the location of a new hotel that will be marketed to the personnel who will accompany major projects.

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