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Special Report - Greater Bay Area

Lai Sun Group’s Novotown project will turn Hengqin island into a major player

Lionsgate Entertainment World and National Geographic Ultimate Explorer ‘edutainment’ centre are highlights of first phase of 18 billion yuan project

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 May, 2018, 9:03am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 May, 2018, 9:03am

Hengqin island in Zhuhai is being transformed into an entertainment hub, pegged to be the Orlando of China, as part of the Greater Bay Area development project in the Pearl River Delta, and set to rival other progressive bay areas such as San Francisco and Tokyo.

One of the main tourist attractions on Hengqin is Lai Sun Group’s Novotown, an integrated tourism and entertainment project. Phase one has been completed, and features two indoor attractions – Lionsgate Entertainment World, with interactive experiences and immersive theme rides from blockbuster films The Hunger Games, Twilight, The Divergent Series, Now You See Me, Gods of Egypt and Escape Plan; and a National Geographic Ultimate Explorer “edutainment” centre, allowing virtual tours of science explorations and wildlife. It has a 494-room Hengqin Hyatt Regency Hotel and mixed-use shopping centre with a host of restaurants and bars.

With phase one having cost about 5 billion yuan (HK$6.16 billion), Lai Sun Group is ready to invest in Phase 2.

“With major construction work of Phase 1 done, the group is ready to pour in more investment on Phase 2, where an interactive football experience centre and automobile experience centre in partnership with Real Madrid football club and Porsche respectively will be located,” says Larry Leung, Novotown’s managing director.

Phase 2 includes Harrow International China, one of Britain’s best-known private schools.

“The entire project covering all five phases is expected to account for an investment of no less than 18 billion yuan,” Leung says.

“Gathering top-notch brands from around the world, the project brings even more positive financial and social impact to the Greater Bay Area,” he says.

With major construction work of Phase 1 done, the group is ready to pour in more investment on Phase 2, where an interactive football experience centre and automobile experience centre in partnership with Real Madrid football club and Porsche respectively will be located
Larry Leung, managing director, Novotown

“With the immersive entertainment offered by Lionsgate Entertainment World, National Geographic Ultimate Explorer and many other offerings in Phase 1, we foresee that Novotown will attract 5 million visitors to Hengqin per annum after its grand opening next year. Phase 1 alone is expected to create 1,200 to 1,500 job openings in the Greater Bay Area, with more opportunities to come in Phase 2.”

“Fostering the young generation has become a key mission for Novotown. The mission of nurturing young leaders has already begun. A University Business Case Competition was held in April by the project team, with the objective of increasing youth’s understanding on the central government’s vision for the Greater Bay Area,” Leung says.

“The three winning teams are entitled to exchange trips in Australia, the United States and Taiwan with full sponsorship.”

Hengqin itself is being developed as a compact and intelligent city and all Aedas projects within Hengqin are intelligent, sustainably designed and maximise connectivity to other sites and to the transport system
Keith Griffiths, chairman and global design principal, Aedas

Catherine Chan, senior marketing manager (Hengqin) Novotown, adds: “We are pleased that the University Business Case Competition held in April received great response with more than 180 students’ taking part. The three winning teams will go on overseas trips with full sponsorship. On return, suitable students will have the chance to become Novotown’s management trainees. We look forward to the launch of the summer internship programme targeting Hong Kong students in the next step, bringing them exposure to the work in the Greater Bay Area.”

Despite all the developments taking place on Henqin island, 70 per cent of the island still consists of forest and wetlands that have a construction ban or limited construction to be ecologically friendly. One aspect of redevelopment on the island is that all buildings must use low carbon materials on construction projects. Aedas, the design project architects for Novotown and other projects on the island, adheres to these stipulations.

“Hengqin itself is being developed as a compact and intelligent city and all Aedas projects within Hengqin are intelligent, sustainably designed and maximise connectivity to other sites and to the transport system,” says Keith Griffiths, chairman and global design principal at Aedas.

He says of Novotown Phase 1: “The development features many sustainable and energy saving features including district cooling, grey water recycling, optimal orientation to reduce solar heat gain, low energy LED lighting, extensive greenery and smart building automation technology.”

Aedas designs in Hengqin have been recognised with the Global RLI Awards for Hengqin MCC Headquarters Complex (Phase II), MIPIM Asia Awards for Hengqin International Financial Center, International Property Awards for Main Building, Macau Traditional Chinese Medicine Science and Tech Park.