New Era Developments, the company behind the emerging modern China-inspired district in the centre of Sheffield, has announced that it has commissioned a designer to develop plans for striking new public art to feature at the heart of the scheme.

The art will primarily focus on New Era Square – a new destination public space, currently under construction and set to be located at the centre of the development, which comprises new apartments, Grade A office space and vibrant East Asian places to eat, drink and relax.

David Wei, a UK-qualified Chinese design architect and co-founder of Hatch Architects – a practice with offices in London and Shanghai, has been commissioned to produce the art. David previously worked at renowned architects’ practice, Foster+Partners, and has led on the design of a number of iconic and ambitious projects for new hotels, business parks and visitor attractions in China, including the Shanghai Bulgari Hotel and Chengdu Cloud Valley.

Concepts for New Era’s artwork are currently being developed while discussions with Sheffield City Council take place to establish parameters for the public art. At least one piece is envisaged, but possibly more, with the aim of adding cultural interest to the planned new square and marking it as a unique ‘got-to destination’ in its own right.

On the proposed plans, Jerry Cheung, Managing Director of New Era Developments, commented:

“Our intention has always been to create something special for Sheffield and the wider city region. New Era will deliver a flavour of the excitement, dynamism and energy of modern China and East Asia, married with the best of Western culture.

“New Era Square will sit at the very heart of our plans. It will be a keynote public destination surrounded by activity, plugged into the city centre and neighbouring London Road, which has long been a focus of great Asian food and Sheffield’s historic Chinese community.

“David Wei and Hatch Architects truly understand both modern Asia and the UK. David has produced some inspiring design works for contemporary Chinese developments already and we are very excited about him applying this same flair and imagination to the planned public art for New Era Square.”

David Wei, co-founder of Hatch Architects, stated:

“What Jerry and his team at New Era are doing is exceptional in the UK. This will probably be the first true example of a destination based on modern Asia in the country.

“Equally, Sheffield has strong links with its sister city of Chengdu, and China more widely through world snooker. It’s a huge privilege for me to be working on this project and I can’t wait to see the result.”

The installation of the new art is being planned to coincide with the official opening of New Era Square, which is expected to be completed towards the end of May next year. The public will get a small taster of the new square earlier than that however, with a small section of the square due to be opened from the end of January to coincide with Chinese New Year as work progresses.

Grade A office space – including offices for the China-UK Business Incubator (CUBI), a project to facilitate Chinese investment in the UK and British investment in China – and quality places for food and drink are also expected to be complete by May, with a 200-space underground public car park already finished and located under the evolving New Era Square.

Already complete and occupied is Phase 1, featuring 686 student apartments and several private apartments, a Chinese supermarket and boutique Chinese retailers, including a hairdresser and authentic street food vendors.

Popular fine-dining Asian restaurant and leisure brand, Oisoi, has also recently committed to take space at New Era once the development is complete.