Architectural firm Hassell Pty Ltd has won a contract to design the new headquarters for one of China’s most successful online trading companies, with the help of Austrade.

“Austrade’s Hangzhou office worked closely with Hassell, calling on local knowledge and relationships to help them win the Alibaba contract,” says Austrade’s Shanghai-based senior trade commissioner, Christopher Wright.

“There are many opportunities for Australian architects in China, not just in the main centres such as Beijing and Shanghai, but in the second tier cities and regional centres.

“The opportunities range from large commercial buildings through to residential projects and master planning,” he says.  

The Alibaba headquarters will be based in Hangzhou, which is located in Zhejiang Province, which together with Shanghai and Jiangsu Province forms the Yangtze River Delta region; home to one third of China’s GDP, 40 per cent of exports and 50 per cent of foreign investment.

Hassell’s managing director in China, Peter Duncan says the Alibaba project has taken two years to come to fruition after Austrade’s Hangzhou team identified the opportunity.

“The focus of the Alibaba project was on a quality workplace with a corporate campus style form of architecture¯this means Alibaba was called upon to design a low-rise campus, rather than a high-rise commercial complex.

“Another advantage was the ability Hassell has to provide the whole package¯an integrated design which brings architecture, interior design and landscape together,” he adds.

Duncan says working in China enables Hassell to work more closely with clients and deal more effectively on-the-ground instead of managing the project at a distance.

“Hassell with its offices all around Australia has numerous projects of this large scale going on at once, with the average length of each project taking two to three years through to completion of construction. Due to China’s rapid growth, projects need to be implemented more quickly, so the strength of the architectural idea needs to be strong, simple and resilient,” he says.