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China, once an exotic land, is known for several architectural wonders such as the Great Wall of China, and countless impressive temples, including the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. Chinese architecture has undoubtedly influenced architecture the world over, specifically in countries such as Japan, Korea and Vietnam.

Although the influence of Chinese architecture is limited in Pakistan, China has impacted its real estate industry substantially, mainly because Chinese construction materials have taken Pakistan – and the rest of the world – by storm.

Only 10 years ago, we sourced construction materials from USA and Europe, while Italy and Spain were the premier choice for high-end construction materials. This has changed and today China is producing materials ranging from construction chemicals, tiles, paints, sanitary ware, roofing materials, and UPVC windows to customised kitchens and wardrobes. Needless to say, almost anything can be imported from China.

However, it is important to understand that materials produced in China cater to several different markets. Although some give value for money, others are indeed very high quality; this is very apparent in Chinese porcelain tiles (Rs 600-4,000) and sanitary ware (faucets: Rs 3,000; washbasin and W/C set: Rs 20,000;) to name a few.

The decorative market in stone works is also dominated by the Chinese manufacturers in Pakistan. Not only is China a major supplier of marble and granite at approximately Rs 300 per square foot (nearly half the price of those made in Europe) it also  manufactures artificial stone crafts for interior and landscape design.

Additionally, most of the laminated wooden flooring for the Pakistani market is made in China and sold under different brand names for approximately Rs 120 per square foot. Not only are the construction materials imported from China popular but interior fittings and furnishings are widely available at very competitive prices.

– Adil Kerai
The writer is an architect and partner at Habib Fida Ali, Architects.

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