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Shenzhen launches OCT-LOFT
Latest Updated by 2007-02-08 10:28:07
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AFTER two years' renovation with a total investment of more than 30 million yuan (US$3.9 million), the city's new community art park, OCT-LOFT, was inaugurated in Overseas Chinese Town (OCT) in Nanshan District at the end of last month.

 

The first phase of the park, which has been created from renovated factory buildings in the eastern part of OCT, covers a total area of 55,465 square meters. More than 95,571 square meters has been reserved for further development.

 

So far, more than 20 companies and organizations, including designers, architects and avant-garde artists, have joined the community.

 

As the first institute to open in the park a year ago, the OCT Contemporary Art Terminal (OCAT) is celebrating its second anniversary with the Magic of Danish Design exhibition, which is open free to the public through March 28.

 

The term "Loft" began in New York City in the 1940s when renters and owners began turning old industrial buildings into living spaces.

 

The original tenants were artists who craved the high ceilings, large windows and open floor plans typical of converted warehouses and factories.

 

Over the last decade, many major cities throughout the world have begun to welcome the idea of loft living, which is a way of bringing life into what were previously deserted parts of a city.

 

Located in the eastern industrial zone of the Konka Group in OCT, the OCAT used to be a block of factory buildings, which were built at the beginning of the 1980s and remained in operation until the late 1990s.

 

At the beginning of 2004, the OCT Real Estates Co. Ltd. announced its plan to transform the abandoned areas into a new modern art and cultural center.

 

"In OCT, where land resources are scarce, this block of abandoned industrial buildings could certainly have been torn down for real-estate development or other commercial uses," said Chen Jian, CEO of the OCT Real Estates Co. Ltd.

 

"However, we decided to transform it into a district much like New York's Soho, while preserving its original appearance," Chen said.

 

The OCT Real Estates Co. Ltd. sent a team of experts to visit the loft area of Vancouver, Canada, which restricts buildings' use to people who are engaged in a precisely defined list of artistic activities.

 

The OCT Real Estates Co. Ltd. finally decided to renovate the abandoned industrial zone by modeling it on Vancouver's loft zone.

 

As the designer of the OCT-LOFT, the Shenzhen Urbanus Co. Ltd. was also among the first batch of companies and organizations to enter the park. "We were very excited when our company was commissioned to undertake the renovation project," said Meng Yan, one partner of the Shenzhen Urbanus Co. Ltd.

 

"But when we first saw the factory buildings, we were disappointed. They had no big chimneys or huge spaces, just simple roofs, nothing like the 798 art factory in Beijing,"Meng said.

 

"So, during the process of renovation, we decided to give the buildings a style, distinct from the 798 art factory in Beijing, by trying our best to preserve their original structure and workshops," Meng said.

 

"We didn't even decorate the original spaces, leaving that to those who rent them," he said.

 

Three years ago, when Hong Kong designer Kenneth Ko first moved to Shenzhen to develop his business on the mainland, he had only five employees. Today, he employs more than 80.

 

Ko not only moved his Shenzhen offices onto the park, but also opened a coffee house there.

 

A true loft is a conversion of a vintage factory or warehouse. They have a harder edge as they are usually constructed of concrete, exposed brick, original wooden pillars, beams and floors. Typically, they have an open floorplan and unfinished ceilings that are at least 10 feet high with exposed ducts, plumbing and electrical wiring.

 

"I like this place because there is nothing here except a large roof," said Ko. "This has enabled the park not to have a fixed style unlike its counterparts in Beijing or Shanghai."

 

"The OCT-LOFT is like a dry sponge, which can absorb anything you put into it," Ko said.

 

Editor: Wing

By: Source: Szdaily web edition
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