RIBA trade mission: small practices bid for Chinese foothold
The RIBA is flying seven practices from the South-east of England to China this month to target the country’s luxury homes, hotels and shopping sectors
The institute is running a trade mission to Hong Kong and nearby Shenzhen to help small and medium-sized architectural firms make contacts in the fast-growing nation.
Patel Taylor, Dexter Moren, Ambo, Stuart Forbes, Hester Architects, the Manser Practice and Sybarite will spend six days from Saturday 25 February meeting local architects and clients as well as practices that have set up in the country recently.
RIBA London policy manager Owen Wainhouse told AJ: ‘UK architects need to show something different to the domestic competition and we believe the luxury market is one in which they can justify charging Western prices.
‘We will be looking at luxury hotels and retail, and boutique housing. It is a growing market, and in such a huge country, you do not need a large proportion of people to be rich to support it.’
Wainhouse added that the Pearl River Delta region the mission was visiting had several medium-sized cities in the market for flagship buildings.
With the built environment sectors in the UK and Europe continuing to struggle post recession, an increasing number of UK architects are looking to the East for work.
‘Practices are having a hard time at the moment and looking overseas is one way they can combat this, especially with the reputation UK architects have abroad,’ said Wainhouse.
The aim of the mission was to allow UK architects to size up the market in China and meet potential clients, rather than to win immediate work, he added.
UK Trade and Investment, which is supporting the RIBA China trip, awarded Manchester-headquartered BDP the Greater China Rising Star Award this week.
The practice was recognised for its commitment to China, having 20 staff based in its Shanghai office and having won 95 commissions in the country.
UKTI director for the North-west Clive Drinkwater said: ‘Greater China continues to be of major importance on the global stage.’