CHINA may provide some opportunities for Australian architects, engineers and project managers as it follows a trend toward the construction of steel buildings.

Beijing International Airport, for example, was constructed using 190,000sq m of steel cladding and 60,000 metres of purlins supplied by BHP Steel .

Now China plans to build more steel buildings for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

But China tends to rely mainly on its own expertise because it cannot afford to import expertise.

Architect Dr Ma Guoxin designed the $2 billion, 336,000sq m airport terminal and is master planning venues for the Olympic Games.

Ma says the airport project is starting a trend toward constructing more steel buildings in China. “China’s tradition is reinforced concrete and tile. So steel is very unusual. But that is all changing.

“It will keep changing with the venues of the Olympics,” he says.

“I think Sydney demonstrated that there are more contemporary materials and ways of designing and that confirms the direction in which we are heading.”

Ma says, “Chinese architects are still catching up with the West and, despite some problems, there are prospects for partnerships and collaboration.

“We are not interested in importing all the necessary materials and skills required for an event like the Olympics.

“If we use too much overseas technology, we cannot afford the investment or budget,” he says.

BHP Steel has manufacturing plants at Shanghai and Guangzhou in China.

Beijing Urban Construction Co built the new airport terminal.