Call goes out for Irish architects
GERRY PATJE was in Shanghai to lobby the RIAI to send over architects and engineers from Ireland to help him meet demand in Guiyang, in southwestern China, where he has been based for the past three years.
“I work all across China, in Shenzhen, Nanjing, working on very large projects in Pudong in Shanghai, and in Nanjing. We work in all areas – interior design, architectural design, landscaping,” said Patje.
“I have work for people out here. I need people working here full time. My wife has a lot of contacts here, and I am inundated with work. It’s very hard to crack the market without connections. The government sells the land to the investors and I’m dealing with the investors,” he said.
He came to China after work dried up in Ireland and he was forced to close his business, which had run for 27 years. He has an engineering background but has been doing mostly architectural work since he pitched up in China.
“My wife, Zheng Yan, is Chinese and we had a house here as a holiday home that we were doing up, but after I had no work for seven months in Ireland, we decided enough was enough. I closed the business and came out here, and I wish I’d moved years ago,” said Patje.
He works for a Shenzhen-based company called SZ Art but his wife is from Guiyang, a city of 4.3 million that is capital of Guizhou, and Patje runs SZ Art’s business there.
He has just completed two five-star hotels, while another project of which he is particularly proud is the media area for a memorial to the great philosopher Confucius, built to mark his anniversary.
Patje has also just completed two tall buildings in Guiyang, an 86-storey building and a 67-storey building.
Work happens very fast and this is something that it takes European architects a while to get their heads around. Speed is of the essence.
Patje has approached the Irish Government and various state bodies looking for help in tracking Irish talent to work in China, but nothing happened. A similar to approach to the Dutch government – Patje’s father is Dutch – sparked immediate interest, and they dispatched a representative architect within three weeks, and are now working on a project.
“Eventually the Irish Embassy in Beijing put me in touch with the RIAI and I met them here in Shanghai. I want the RIAI to put forward a team of designers and engineers, especially interior designers,” he said.
“The clients want an international team. Chinese designers are very good but the clients want news ideas and they want European designers, they want the real thing,” he added.