Queensland-based architecture firm, DBI Design has won a $3 billion tender to masterplan and project manage the development of a new financial district in Shantou, 300 kilometres north-east of  Hong Kong - billed as a new 'micro city'.

The project will include 10 commercial buildings, 16 apartment and residential towers, two hotels , a shopping centre, cultural precinct and marina.

Once complete, it is expected the new micro city will house more than 7,000 permanent residents, accommodate more than 2,000 tourists and support a working population of more than 22,000.

The new community, which is being developed on the 68 hectare site of an abandoned theme park, will be known as the Shantou Overseas Financial Centre.

DBI Design director Raith Anderson says Shantou Overseas Financial Centre is the company's next headline international development, following on from the $1.5 billion Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi, which was completed in 2012 and has won accolades in the 2011 World Travel Awards and 2012 Emporis World Skyscraper Awards.

Anderson says Shantou Overseas Financial Centre is one of the Guangdong region's largest urban renewal projects on reclaimed land, and would take about eight years to develop.

"This clearly shows that it is a two way street in terms of Australian-Chinese property development.”

“While we have seen a lot of Chinese-led projects in Australia recently, the Chinese are very receptive to high quality design proposals from Australian firms," he said.

"When it comes to large scale masterplanned projects like this, they are not just looking for economy of scale. They want a team that has a demonstrated ability to deliver a signature project, as China is increasingly moving away from design conformity and embracing creativity.”

"It's all about big picture thinking - creating a whole new space where people can live, work and play. While this project is branded a financial centre and the emphasis is on the two signature 380 metre high commercial and hotel towers, the vision is to attract permanent residents and tourists too - it will be a new destination in its own right," he says.

The inspiration for the design says Anderson, was the “fluid and ephemeral forms of moving water and the way it interacts with landforms the design draws influence from the gentle curves of a shoreline, the meandering edges of a riverbank and the undulating, dendritic flows of the stream.”

“The flowing underlay of gently curving paths, walkways and waterways creates the beautiful natural landscape setting out of which rise the stronger architectural forms,” he says.

‘Continuing the use of fluid inspired forms in the architecture will ensure harmony and integration between natural and built elements, creating a spectacular master planned precinct.”

“Using forms which simulate the ebb and flow of water will help provide a unifying and cohesive underlay to the entire development and will create a distinct design language that will become iconic to this unique precinct,” he says

“In nature, water flowing over the land creates fertility at its edges, and the design ethos intends to embrace this concept by providing an abundance of lush, tropical ribbons of water, gardens and landscape spaces that flow throughout the development and promote health and well-being,” says Anderson.

“This development will be highly sustainable and be very technically advanced,” he says, adding that, “It will be seeking a Gold to Platinum Level Leeds Sustainability rating.”

The completion date for the project is expected to be 2026.