Tony Wong Hong-wang, a pioneer in transforming old factories into innovative offices, was sick of working at high-rise, glass wall buildings. Four years ago, the former Hong Kong-born project manager of Xintiandi decided to set up his own business after working for different developers including Kerry Properties and Shui On Group for 19 years. He had been involved in project developments including Shanghai Kerry Centre, Kerry Everbright City and Xintiandi. 'At first, I leased an abandoned school with an outdoor playground as my office. In a spacious environment, we constantly come up with fresh ideas which we could not do in a cramped office,' Mr Wong said. His bold idea took him to a new career path. The opportunity presented itself when he saw and immediately fell in love with a row of seven obsolete factories at 8Jianguo Road Central, Jingan district in 2003. He proposed to the Luwan district government to transform these buildings - the workshops of the Shanghai Automotive Industry Group Corp - into an innovative design office integrated with cafe and entertainment facilities without changing the architecture. With the full support of the district government, Mr Wong managed to secure a 20-year lease for the buildings and completed the renovation in a year. These buildings, now called the Bridge8, have become a model of loft-style commercial complex in Shanghai. He said the renovated buildings linked the past and the present. The complex has helped bridge the gap between East and West and has been leased to many overseas firms such as the United States architectural firm SOM, Canadian architect Bregman + Hamann Architect (B+H) and US Web game designer Red5. 'The project will probably break even in five years,' Mr Wong said. The success of the Bridge 8 has prompted the government to encourage private participation in the reconstruction of under-utilised factories to enhance their commercial value. He believes the recent release 50 old industrial buildings with a potential of 100,000 square metres in gross floor area for renovation would not create an oversupply problem. 'The market should digest the new supply as long as these spaces are not put on the market at the same time,' Mr Wong said.