Aug.14 - More and more firms are turning to the ancient Chinese practice of feng shui when planning where to build their next skyscraper, hoping to entice rocketing numbers of cash-rich Far East buyers. Hayley Platt reports.
Since the first brick was laid more than three decades ago Canary Wharf has become a magnet for the financial industry. It now has more banks than anywhere else in Europe. And, says feng shui master Michael Oon, its success is no accident. SOUNDBITE: Dr Michael Oon, feng shui master, saying, (English): "All the businesses in Canary Wharf are doing well, there is not such as thing as some businesses do well, some locations are really a dead spot, there is a very even distribution of energy and therefore distribution of good business. The energy flows directly from the river through this path straight towards the colonnades to the tower block over there." Feng shui means wind and water and although it's been around for centuries, western firms are increasingly using it for competitive advantage. With more and more Asian buyers and a difficult market every advantage helps. Architect Paul Simovic from Kohn Pedersen Fox has used it on a number of his projects, including London's multi-million pound Heron Tower. SOUNDBITE: Paul Simovic, director, Kohn Pedersen Fox, architects, saying (English): "It's relevance is increasing because the number of Far Eastern companies coming into London is increasing and large commercial developments like this one at Heron Tower need to have the widest appeal possible." Michael has worked with hundreds of clients around the world. And says others would benefit from his advice. SOUNDBITE: Dr Michael Oon, feng shui master, saying, (English): "Marks and Spencers were the market leaders when they had their headquarters in Baker Street. They moved down to Paddington Basin and that was a very very modern building and there's very little energy. It is built on two triangles, so they are missing the south west which is the lady, the woman, the other part missing on the south east relates to communication, so what Marks & Spencer is missing is communication with their lady customers." M and S may not be so convinced. But many in property market are taking note. Last year a third of new-builds in London were bought by Far Eastern buyers - a rise of 4 percent in 2 years. SOUNDBITE: Paul Simovic, director, Kohn Pedersen Fox, architects, saying (English): "Given that London is a hot spot for foreign investment, a lot of Far Eastern investment is coming not just coming into the office market but into housing as well it would seem the practice of using Feng Shui to inform design is here to stay." Feng shui followers believe the ancient Chinese principles are crucial for health, wealth and happiness - something that's in short supply in many countries at the moment. Hayley Platt, Reuters.