China offers work opportunities

The pace of regeneration in China could provide opportunities for landscape architects and designers as the UK market shrinks.

That is the view of Sheffield landscape architect Mike Browell, whose firm Weddle Landscape Design has won work in China.

The firm has recently completed its first project in China - the landscaping of a £200m, 1,000-bed hospital for women and children in Qingdao, the city that hosted the Olympic sailing events last year.

Now it is about to start work on a second major project in China, landscaping a £100m retail outlet.

"I have never seen development of that pace going on," said Browell. "There has been a lot of neglect so there is a large backlog (of work). China is looking to the West so we are giving them green roofs, green walls and sustainable urban drainage."

The work has resulted from a lecture tour by Browell on how landscape could be a catalyst for regeneration.

Scott Wilson's head of landscape and urban design Paj Valley said: "Other countries are faring better under the global recession than the UK and if we look at developing nations, such as India and China, there is huge growth. Irrespective of the downturn, the number of opportunities for landscape architects is great."

But Browell admitted it was not an easy option to find work in China, as many contracts were based on building strong relationships, which could prove difficult for overseas firms. "Personal connections are everything - it is about who you know and doing things a certain way," he said.

Whitelaw Turkingston senior associate Guy Protheroe agreed: "It can be difficult to get a good foothold and then make that sustainable."

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