How Does Architect Can Develop their Business in China ?

The urbanization of China continues at a rapid pace and many foreign architects have to find their way to enter in the country.


While in Western countries are still recovering from an important crash in real estate prices and that construction has slow down, China appears as an opportunity for many foreign architects. Opportunities lie mostly in the high-end of the commercial real estate sector, whereas Chinese architects dominate the low to mid-end of the market. Recently, the most opportunities to develop an architect business in China are in the fast-growing lower-tier inland cities, such as Chengdu in the Sichuan province. Indeed, these cities want to distinguish themselves from other cities with eye-catching or international allure architecture. Moreover, foreign architects have the reputation to create quality and creative building. Besides, China is still struggling with pollution and the government is looking for moving toward a more environmentally sustainable growth model. Using green technology in architecture is another advantage to developing your architect business in China.

The architect business in China

Why Foreign architects in China are Popular ?

According to a report, nearly 48% of China’s GDP is dominated by internal investment in infrastructure and city building. Consequently, for foreign architects, China has become the world’s experimental architecture lab. Indeed, having a foreign name represent labels of quality in China. Some high-profile architects and firms, such as Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster or Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates who have a great reputation thanks to their famous achievements, are hired to design the country’s new buildings. China’s main architectural stage is Shanghai with a long history of imported design influences. This city is one of the easiest to develop an architecture business in the country. Guangzhou is also an interesting place because of the world-class sophistication of the building culture and the elegant towers in its new central business district. The market is currently dominated by firms that have the technical expertise and have sophisticated mechanical engineers to design the buildings that embellish the largest cities of China.

Chinese Real Estate Companies love the international style of building

so this market will always be dominated by international architects and firms. Even buildings that have cultural significance, like museums or art centers, are also dominated by foreign architects. However, both state and private investments are going to start shifting toward markets like health care, education and housing and it will give new opportunities to develop your architect business in China. Therefore, a foreign architect will need to think beyond just working with commercial investment clients doing icon towers and be ready to work with social infrastructure clients.

How to Enter the Chinese Market

There are two principal models to enter the Chinese market with your architect business: set up and architecture firm in China or provide architecture services from abroad.

  • Set up an architecture firm in China

The first model is to set up an architecture firm in China. Because China’s corporate laws are strict, this is a complicated option for a company. Indeed, establishing a foreign-invested architecture company in China requires that one-fourth of the foreign have both foreign and Chinese certifications. Therefore, a part of the staff has to take the Chinese architecture exams. Moreover, these architects have to remain in the country for over six months each year. Finally, the company who wants to set up an architecture firm in China needs to acquire several licenses to work on a different project. For all these reasons, most foreign companies do not use this model to develop an architect business in China.

  • Provide architecture services from your own country

The second model, which is more efficient, is to provide architecture services from your own country. Indeed, it is not necessary for foreign architects to be physically in China to develop their business because, apart from realizing the marketing part, all the designs and other tasks can be done from an office abroad. It is also possible to receive payments directly in your home country. This solution avoids you to go through a long and complicated process to establish a company in China. Moreover, by delegating the marketing part to a specialized agency which knows exactly the expectations of Chinese clients, it will allow your company to save money.

One of the advantage to develop your business in China is that you will have more creative freedom and more opportunities to realize things that you could not do in your home country.

Architecture in China is a way to rethink your models of how cities work.

While developing your business in China, you will manage important projects in different areas of architecture and that will make you more experienced. The key to developing your architect company in China is patient relationship-building through an effective marketing strategy. China is good choice for business because the country will continue to a vital architect market over the long term. Besides, foreign architects are well-known for high-quality buildings and the use of green technologies. 

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