The eyes of the world will turn to Hangzhou, Eastern China in September 2022, for it is to be the host city of the 19th Asian Games, second only to the Olympics in terms of its size and global profile.
It is the moment when this rapidly growing capital of Zhejiang province, 180km southwest of Shanghai, will repay the faith placed in it to deliver both a Games to remember and a long-lasting legacy for the city; all part of a wider Chinese government drive to create a sports industry set to be worth some $730 billion by 2025, bolstering both GDP and national pride.
A Transportation Transformation
Construction highlights include an $8.3 billion, 446km-long urban rail transit system, new expressways compatible with 5G technology and driverless vehicles, as well as major expansion of the city’s Xiaoshan international airport, 27km east of downtown Hangzhou.
Such glittering new infrastructure is designed to ensure both visitors and athletes can move seamlessly between the various venues, as well as around the city and beyond, with over ten new metro lines and two intercity links to be constructed in total.
Meanwhile, the city’s rapid transformation continues with construction of a new airport express reaching out to Wushan West Station, a flagship project with major long-term benefits for the 10 million inhabitants that call Hangzhou home.
Steel and Concrete Legacy
As to the facilities for the games itself, the jewel in the crown is the stunning Hangzhou Olympic Centre, an 80,000-seat lotus-shaped stadium currently under construction, which sees 56 entwined steel petals making up its framework. The sheer scale and ambition of this venue makes it the largest stadium being built in China over the next decade, while the complex engineering techniques being applied mean an array of specialised machinery must be brought to bear.
Meanwhile, in addition to visually arresting new tennis, aquatic and convention centres being built nearby, the Athlete’s Village, a 3.26 sq km site connected by monorail, subways and cable cars, is taking shape along Hangzhou’s Qian Tang riverfront.
Situated 3km from the main stadium and linked to it by striking water-themed parkland, it is sure to leave a beautiful and lasting legacy of steel and concrete, for it will feature as part of Hangzhou’s expanded Central Business District once the Games conclude. Defined by its mixed-use nature, buildings will be purposed for the full spectrum of commercial, leisure, retail and residential activities and connected by a stunning array of sky bridges.
It is worth stating that these headline projects are just the start of things to come for the city, for its strategically significant location means it is set to further benefit from ongoing One Belt One Road and Yangtze River Delta infrastructure mega projects to the tune of several billion dollars.
Equipment Owners: Kings of Construction
Perhaps the biggest challenge confronting the authorities is in ensuring there is enough material handling and earth moving industrial equipment for the many construction tasks at hand, for while the demand for these machines is huge, supply lags far behind. This means those that own the machinery are able to command the highest rates when renting them out to contractors desperate to get their hands on such kit to win and fulfil the numerous lucrative contracts on offer. Equipment owners also know what a source of national embarrassment it would be should everything fail to be ready in time for the Games, and that they are the key to ensuring all the construction is delivered on time.
So extensive and intense is the building work, it feels like payday every day for these investors, and with China leading a global industrial equipment rental market set to be worth $75.2 billion by 2024, there will be no shortage of work for their machines right across China for many years to come.