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Complex task of urban planning

Sunday, April 23, 2006
By: Joey Yap

Feng Shui has increasingly become a selling-point for property developers these days. From a marketing standpoint, it is easy to understand why property developers are paying more attention to Feng Shui issues - more and more buyers nowadays are placing greater emphasis on Feng Shui considerations.

As the public becomes more educated about Feng Shui, developers have to be more prepared to answer difficult questions when buyers approached them to buy property. Prospective buyers want to know where the entrances to the townships are, what direction the entire development faces, which direction the houses are facing, and some even bring their own Feng Shui consultants to survey the area. Well read prospective buyers may even come asking about the landform features of the property.

In response to buyers' expectations, property developers are increasingly conscious about Feng Shui considerations and some have even taken the initiative to involve Feng Shui consultants in the process of planning and developing property projects, from malls to theme parks to residential projects.

So what exactly does a Feng Shui consultant do when it comes to large scale property development projects? And how do you know if the Feng Shui component of a development is the 'real thing', or just another marketing spiel? This week, I'm going to share with you what it is that Feng Shui professionals do, when they work on a large-scale property development project. By understanding what goes on when it comes to the Feng Shui of a large scale property project, you will be able to understand what role Feng Shui plays in urban development. You will thus be able to know what are the questions you should be asking a developer, especially if a strong marketing point of their development is that it has good Feng Shui!

Bringing Qi into the Picture

Today, many property development projects have a strong urban or town planning component to them because developers not only have to pay attention to just the homes themselves and the recreational facilities, but are also responsible for building everything from the roads to the playgrounds, and from clubhouses to marinas!

Undertaking the Feng Shui for a housing project or integrated property development is quite a complex and long-term engagement for most Feng Shui consultants. They are often on-board even before the project gets off the ground - at the planning and land selection stage - and frequently, this involvement continues through the development of the project, the construction from the ground up to the sales and launch of the project.

Often, the first thing the Feng Shui consultant does when it comes to a large-scale property development is to select the land. Now, as most property development companies have a land bank, a proper Feng Shui consultation will involve the survey of all these properties, usually from the air via helicopter to gain an insight into the contours of the land, including the mountain formations, streams, creeks and natural ponds. It is not difficult to see the Dragon (land coutour or mountain ranges), how it turns, moves and flows on the land, from an aerial view. From there, the Feng Shui consultant will usually be able to determine which piece of land is most suited for the development the developer has in mind. Not every piece of land is suitable for a commercial residential venture, and using the land for the right purposes is the first step towards ensuring a good start for the development.


At this stage, the Feng Shui consultant may also start the process of troubleshooting and problem-solving. For example, what to do with pylons or other threatening features located close to the land the developer has decided to buy or has already bought? Most residential house buyers will refuse to buy a house near electric pylons, even if they know nothing about Feng Shui. But if the pylons are located in an appropriate sector, this danger can be reduced and prospective buyers can feel assured by the knowledge that this kind of problem has been correctly or adequately dealt with by the developer, in line with Feng Shui principles.

It is for this reason that you should make sure that when a developer says the property has been Feng-Shui-ed, to ascertain at which point the Feng Shui consultant was involved. If the consultant is only brought on board after the development has been built, then chances are any improvements are likely to be purely cosmetic in nature. One of the important questions to ask is whether the consultant has been involved in the process of the land selection.

Melding Aesthetic with Qi Principles

Once the land has been selected, then the next step is to work on the designs for the buildings, be it houses, apartments, office blocks or an office tower. Here, the Feng Shui consultant will look at the preliminary design of the architects, and look for ways to find a synergy between the artistic and creative vision of the architect and interior designer, and the Feng Shui principles that need to be applied.

Most Feng Shui consultants would work with the design of the building, house designs or apartment layouts and suggest modifications to accommodate the Feng Shui needs of the structure. Now, these changes are often subtle and imperceptible to the untrained eye. For example, conventional wisdom states that residential properties should be square as that is the shape of the element of Earth. Earth stands for stability in the study of the Five Elements. However, very few people would want to live in a completely square house or apartment. So, obviously, the Feng Shui consultant has to see if a more aesthetic design can work based on the landform of the area. Odd shapes, be it for houses, apartments or buildings, are actually acceptable in Feng Shui if the large macro environment and the landforms support such a design. If you go to Hong Kong, there are plenty of buildings with features that seem to technically violate every rule on Feng Shui (sharp corners, sharp angles, pillars in strange places) in order to achieve a measure of aesthetic value. The Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai, the Louvre Museum in Paris and the HSBC building in Hong Kong all have unusual structural designs to accommodate aesthetic interests but they do not all have bad Feng Shui.

For buyers, often it is difficult to tell what extent the Feng Shui consultant's influence is on the design. Good Feng Shui consultants do not make their work obvious to the untrained eye - otherwise, it's not Feng Shui! Suffice to say that if part of the marketing plan touts the colours of the property as 'Feng Shui colours' or that every property comes with stone lions at the entrance, you should take the 'Feng Shui virtues' of the property with a pinch of salt.

From the Macro to the Micro Details

Aside from the design of the apartments, offices or houses, the Feng Shui consultant also looks into the layout and flow of the roads and the overall infrastructure in the development. This is because roads are virtual rivers, and thus, are carriers of Qi. It is essential to ensure that the roads are not aligned according to void lines, where Qi flow becomes discounted and that there are angles in areas where it is acceptable to have a sharp angle because it doesn't affect any of the properties in the development.

If the Feng Shui consultant has done his job well, then something as minutiae as lamp post placement would also be looked into and planned so that no prospective buyers is landed with a house that has a lamp post squarely in front of the main door, a big no-no when it comes to residential Feng Shui. The Feng Shui consultant will also ensure that each phase of the property is build to face suitable directions. For example, this may be done to avoid circumstances where certain phases of houses face a direction that is unfavourable or difficult to benefit from, based on the landform of the area. Or houses being inadvertently located facing a void line.

Water placement is also very important in Feng Shui. These days, it is common for many property developments to include recreational areas or playgrounds, with lakes, or man-made creeks, fountains and swimming pools. The Feng Shui consultant, taking into account the layout and design of the entire master plan, will make sure that the water is located in an area that benefits the residents overall, and is suitable for the location of Water.

Finally, the Feng Shui consultant will also select suitable dates for the ground-breaking work, to ensure the project gets off to a smooth start and there are minimal disruptions during the construction period, select dates for the hanging of the Main Door on the units, and also, select dates for the launching of the project, to ensure good sales!

Beyond Flying Stars and Eight Mansions

You might be wondering what techniques come into play when it comes to large scale development projects. For industrial and large scale size projects, like resorts, theme parks, large scale commercial residential projects or even town planning, Feng Shui consultants are not using simple systems like Flying Stars Feng Shui and Eight Mansions Feng Shui. It's just not feasible. A theme park or town may have more than one entrance and exit - how do you determine which is the facing? The Feng Shui consultant will use different techniques for large-scale projects, because the considerations and concerns, indeed, the scale, is quite different, from undertaking the Feng Shui of one house.

Also, for theme parks, towns and resorts, their demands are different. For homes and residences, the priority is the needs of the residents whilst for a theme park or resort, the developer may not only want to generate good revenues, but also to ensure lots of visitors.

So the next time you check out a property development project and are told that the 'Feng Shui' is good - make sure you understand the 'hows' and 'whys' of the property, and if the Feng Shui of the property is your paramount considerations, find out what are the 'Feng Shui features' that make the property so favourable. Positive Feng Shui is always a good thing to have when it comes to a prospective property investment but it's also important to make sure it's the 'real McCoy' and not just the marketing fluff.

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