What would be the ultimate office environment to cradle a developing dotcom? Start with zippy telecommunications, add handy technology support, broadcast studios, library, cafes, stores, residences and more, all in one spot. That was the proposed vision for Hong Kong's CyberPort, a 24-hectare site on the western shores of Hong Kong Island and estimated to cost HK$15.8 billion, James Snelling said. Mr Snelling, managing director of the Broadcast Design Group (BDG), helped create the plans for the project - meant to thrust Hong Kong into its future as an Asian hi-tech hub. He recently unveiled some of these plans at a Canadian Chamber of Commerce breakfast seminar. BDG, founded in Hong Kong in 1985, designs projects which combine broadcast and telecommunications components. The company has carried out assignments in Asia and the Americas and has several businesses, which include designing telecommunications networks and creating corporate e-commerce networks. Mr Snelling's long design career includes a citation on an Emmy Award given to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp for technical achievement in the large-scale digital broadcasting systems area. BDG clients include NOW TV's Web and television facility, Star TV and IBM. More than a year ago it was hired to help turn the CyberPort vision into reality. CyberPort already has attracted tenancy interest from 15 leading firms - including IBM, Microsoft and Cisco Systems. Each prospective tenant brings its own needs to the project, Mr Snelling said. 'You have to make some guesses and anticipations based on tenant interest. As the requirements change, you have to take your best shot at it,' he said. CyberPort began life as an idea on a napkin, and is presently just a piece of churned earth. The companies involved are working on the modest first phase and must turn it over to the Government in about a year. The officials guiding CyberPort have grand plans. However, critics have pointed out that it is mostly a residential property development, which will provide some office space. According to the master plan, housing space will occupy about 75 per cent of the 537,000-square- metre development. CyberPort officials are hoping that it will become a breeding ground for Hong Kong's next big companies by fostering small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) that will add to the area's cyber-economy. 'The real goal of CyberPort is to attract SMEs,' Mr Snelling said. As a result, the designers have attempted to build in a clustering environment along the 'backbone' of IT Street - a corridor along which most of the networks and facilities will be installed. These include two studios for television broadcasts - and so companies can create their own productions or training pieces with video over Internet protocol capacity - a computer-graphics laboratory and a 'cyber-library' with digitised information and its own printing facilities. CyberPort also is designed to lure some of the region's film-dubbing operations. Though Hong Kong was centrally located for film dubbing, a good deal of the work was done in Australia, Mr Snelling said. CyberPort also would have two network operations centres to enable all communications to be routed, monitored and controlled. As well, there will be an in-house maintenance and IT support team. Other facilities include conference rooms, chat-room hosting, tele-conferencing and Web hosting. Theatres for media conferences will be located alongside leisure spots, such as cafes, a performance centre, a multi-media artwork gallery and three levels of retail space. On the technology side, CyberPort eventually will house an end-to-end optical network for real-time streaming media and sufficient bandwidth for the next 25 years of demand. 'It is anticipated that this will be the first optical network in Hong Kong,' Mr Snelling said. CyberPort's complete wireless coverage for mobile telephones would be able to accommodate third-generation technology and streaming video. BDG will work with the Hong Kong Government to develop tenders for parts of the project's design and facilities. Project construction is to be completed by the end of 2007.