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Architects fear Chinese slowdown

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UK architects have been warned to be selective about the locations and sectors they target in China after fresh fears about the country’s local government debt

The China Banking Regulatory Commission has ordered banks to improve the credit worthiness of loans made to local governments, according to reports this week.

It is feared that a move to allow the banks to extend loan maturities for up to five years could destabilise the financial system in the fast-developing country.

China has been a magnet for UK architects suffering with the downturn in the Western hemisphere over the past few years.

London-headquartered practice Terry Farrell and Partners opened its first mainland China office in Shanghai just before Christmas.

The company is still looking to open an office in Beijing in the near future but warned that selectivity would be crucial as China battled with its debt.

Director Max Farrell told AJ this week: “Our workload in China remains high and we anticipate our key projects will continue moving ahead.

It looks like tighter times ahead

‘Opportunities should remain in certain sectors and in some key cities, but it looks like tighter times ahead.’

Atkins last week said it was chasing luxury mixed-use work in China as construction of the company’s 300,000m² Pacific Dream Plaza scheme commenced in the north of the country.

Gareth Kirkwood, Atkins managing director for mainland China, told AJ: ‘We are continuing to target the high-end mixed use sector, with a particular focus on very tall developments and those that involve linkage to complex transport nodes such as metro, rail or large bus stations.’

‘The tourism and leisure sector is also particularly appealing to us in China and continues to show excellent growth.’

The RIBA is also targeting China’s luxury homes, hotels and shopping sector with a trade mission to Hong Kong and nearby Shenzhen later this month.

Seven small and medium-sized architectural firms from the south-east of England 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.

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