SHANGHAI'S RE-EMERGENCE as one of the world's most dynamic cities has been an exciting transformation to witness. The city will be hosting the 2010 World Expo, and this has given a further boost to metropolitan growth. Large sections of the city are either being developed or redeveloped as China's business capital gets ready for the big event. And playing a lead role at the centre of the spectacular transformation is visionary property developer Shui On Land. The company is in the throes of creating exciting, large-scale building projects that will help Shanghai grow and enrich the lifestyle of the community. These projects are innovative while remaining true to the city's heritage and architectural flavour. Projects include the Shanghai Xintiandi Plaza entertainment complex, the prestigious residential project The Lakeville Regency, and the hi-tech Knowledge & Innovation Community (KIC). Xintiandi is so well known as an entertainment hub that most visitors to Shanghai head there almost as soon as they arrive in the city. Xintiandi, the first phase of Shui On Land's Taipingqiao Redevelopment Project, just south of the Hua Hai Road in Luwan district, opened in 2000 and has quickly become an important part of the city's social and cultural scene. The complex features unique old shikumen (stone gate) houses that have been restored to their former glory and now house upscale shops, bars and restaurants. Those who like to be at the heart of the action can stay at 88 Xintiandi, a boutique hotel that has drawn rave reviews from the world's top travel publications, and dine at the Villa du Lac, a beautifully restored shikumen house serving cuisine from Yangzhou. The glamour of Xintiandi, however, is just one part of the much larger Taipingqiao development. The 52-hectare project, which will take 15 years to complete, has transformed an area of old structures into a modern commercial and residential zone. At the centre of the project, a stone's throw away from Xintiandi, is Taipingqiao Lake and Park. This scenic spot has become a popular meeting and relaxation spot for residents and office workers. Overlooking the lake to the south is The Lakeville Regency, an upscale residential community. The 277 units of phase I sold out fast when it was launched three years ago. Phase II, which has a total of 645 units, is now on the market. Tang Ka-wah, Shui On Land's general manager of projects, said the luxury properties were ideal for those who desired the best in life. With a series of grade-A office towers on Corporate Avenue right next to the Taipingqiao development, The Lakeville Regency property brings together home, work and recreation. Facilities include a clubhouse of 7,000 square metres with a swimming pool and an indoor tennis court. When the Taipingqiao project is completed in 2012, it will include three five-star hotels, a serviced apartment tower, an international school and a medical clinic of international standard. Famous Dongtai Road will be given a facelift, and there will be a theatre strip with four Broadway-type theatres. A 66-storey tower shaped like a white magnolia, the flower of Shanghai, will house Shui On's mainland headquarters. Mr Tang said Shui On believed in enhancing the environment wherever it had a project. Some of the projects reflected the historical background of the sites. He said Shui On founder Vincent Lo Hong-sui had a vision to convert the area, and it was his idea to raise the land value. The residential and office buildings in Taipingqiao are among Shanghai's best locations. 'The whole Taipingqiao concept is a city centre mixed-type development,' Mr Tang said. 'Expatriates working in the office towers, chief executives and directors can live in The Lakeville Regency apartments, and their travelling staff can stay in our future five-star hotels. 'At night, they can go over to Xintiandi and eat and socialise. And in the future, they can take in a show at a theatre. We have created an environment that we believe is very important, and also very special.' Equally unique is the KIC development, designed to generate technological innovation and entrepreneurship to the standards of California's famed Silicon Valley. Located in Shanghai's northern Yangpu district, the area boasts 14 universities and more than 100 educational institutions. The district is home to the famous Fudan and Tongji universities. What KIC essentially creates is a college town hub for all of these centres of higher learning situated next to Jiangwan Stadium, a historic 40,000-seat venue that has been restored. Near the stadium, the first phase of Soho comprises a batch of 673 units that will be put on the market by year's end. The ultra-modern, loft-style flats combine a work and living environment within the same space. 'This is a new idea for our company,' said Hui Shing-sui, director of projects, Shui On Land. 'The government said: you take the lead. So we built a technology park, a hub and Soho. It's a new concept for Shanghai, one that promotes innovation, science and technology.'