Just west of Hong Kong's bustling Tsim Sha Tsui tourist district, bamboo scaffolding stretches like a web over a swathe of reclaimed land surrounded by tower blocks.
It's a seemingly unpromising piece of real estate, but by the end of this year should be home to a massive new complex devoted to Hong Kong's favourite obsession -- shopping.
A decade ago when Britain was handing the territory back to China, sceptics predicted an end to its decades-long shopping spree with a wealth exodus from communist Chinese rule.
It didn't happen. In fact, although its international reputation is often centred on global finance, Hong Kong's economy is actually driven by consumer spending. Lots of it.
Last year, residents and tourists spent 219 billion Hong Kong dollars (28 billion US dollars) in the city's shops, principally on retail goods.
Consumer power pulled Hong Kong from a seven-year recession sparked by the Asian financial crisis, and the subsequent economic boom has combined with an influx of bargain-hunting tourists from the Chinese mainland to keep the tills ringing.
In an indication of the city's cachet, Louis Vuitton has opened six stores here since the handover, more than it has in Paris or New York.
MTR Corporation, the company running Hong Kong's underground rail network, is hoping to cash in on the boom with a giant shopping centre beside Tsim Sha Tsui, to be called Elements.
It will provide the retail portion of a sprawling new development that will also include the city's tallest building, the International Commerce Centre.
Elements was designed by the architects behind Britain's Bluewater shopping centre. All but two of the spaces have been let, principally to international retailers including high-end British brands Mulberry and Pringle.
It will also house a 12-screen cinema with VIP suites and a martini bar, a 700,000-squaPage: 1 2 3 Related medicine news :1
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