The group was initially appointed by Chinese property developer Modern Green to create a brand strategy, signage and potentially a name, for a new city being built by the client under the working title Modern Moma. This has now been extended to all six cities, says Start chief executive Mike Curtis.
The win comes within two months of the design group opening up a Beijing office. Following a credentials presentation in July, the consultancy won a competitive pitch and was offered an extended brief based on its strategic proposal.
Five ‘cities’ have been completed by the developer and one more is under construction. The design group is now working on an ‘arching strategy’ to differentiate the developments from each other and their competitors.
The mixed-use environments will offer residential, office, retail, leisure and hotel spaces. ‘We’ll even have to look at branding individual cinemas and hotels,’ says Curtis.
Curtis stresses the importance of cultural considerations in the project. ‘We’ve got Chinese-speaking staff in Hong Kong and Beijing,’ he says.
All branding work on the project will communicate in Mandarin and English. ‘There are two core groups: the under-30s and over-60s,’ Curtis explains. ‘To target both properly, we need to communicate a strong Web presence in Chinese for the over-60s, and, for the under-30s, English is seen as cool and key to social status. It’s about balance.’ The new brands will also need to appeal to the Western world and ex-patriots.
One of the developments, known as Modern Moma, is situated next to the old city wall of Beijing. A 220 000m2 space, it will house 750 apartments, and public, commercial and hotel space. US architect Steven Holl has designed all of the new Modern Green cities, and describes Modern Moma, which has taken six years to build, as an ‘open city within a city’.
The Six Cities:
- Five of the ‘cities’ are in Beijing and have been completed
- International City Moma, Modern Moma (pictured) and Pop Moma are clustered around the Dongcheng district
- Moma Think Villa and Shangdi Moma are further out from the city centre
- Another city, Changsha, is under construction outside Beijing