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[IMGCAP(1)]NANJING, CHINA-Construction is underway on a 2.3-million-sf mixed-use development overlooking the Yangtze River in the capital city of China’s Jiangsu Province. The project, known as Venice Water City, will include 10 high-rise residential towers and 53,000 sf of retail space. Its projected cost of $63 million dollars is about one-tenth of what a similar development would cost in the US, according to architects with Rothenberg Sawasy Architects, the Los Angeles-based firm creating the design.

The developer of the project is the real estate arm of Suning Corp., a major Chinese appliance manufacturer. Upon completion, the towers, ranging from 11 to 31 stores, will contain 1,867 units.

[IMGCAP(2)]“Because of the site’s proximity to the Yangtze River, our primary goal is to harmoniously integrate this urban development with the natural beauty afforded by this nautical amenity,” says Mitchell Sawasy, RSA principal of design. “To achieve this goal, RSA’s plan calls for an elegant and sophisticated array of towers enhanced by surrounding gardens and a marina. In effect, Venice Water City will establish a new paradigm for the area’s future urban renewal program. Green belts will abound in the new project in contrast to the densely populated older adjacent developments.”

In addition to blending with the natural environment, architects sought to blend western design concepts with Chinese cultural and household patterns. Part of the design challenge stemmed from incorporating “feng shui”, a major factor in Chinese housing design, which influences the direction in which the buildings face. “The planning calls for lots of open green space, which is enabled by the high rise densities. The adjoining areas have buildings lined up like soldiers in formation with very little space between them,” Mark Alan Rothenberg, managing principal of RSA, tells GlobeSt.com.

Architects with RSA say that the “construction cost price differential is mainly attributed to labor,” Rothenberg says. “There are no trade unions and wages are low. In addition, the construction timetable is expedited by workers sleeping and eating on the work site.”

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