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Foster & Partners announce new property projects despite economic downturn

The firm, headed by internationally renowned architect Sir Norman Foster, is also diversifying into other areas. The company has designed a new luxury super yacht for fractional ownership company YachtPlus.

The 41 metre Ocean Emerald can up to house 12 guests with a crew of seven and is the first of four being built. Investors can buy a one-eighth share for €1.87 million which includes 30 nights on board each year and use of a private jet and helicopter transfers.

Among the new projects that the company is working on is the Hermitage Plaza, a new mixed use development to the east of La Defense in Paris that extends down to the River Seine. It incorporates two 323 metre towers which will be the highest mixed use towers in western Europe. It is hoped that work will start in 2010 and be completed by the end of 2014.

'Hermitage Plaza will create a 24-hour community that will regenerate the riverfront and inject new life into a predominantly commercial part of the city. A light catching addition to the Paris skyline, the development will also provide a public piazza that leads down to the river's edge to create a new destination for the city,' said a spokesman for the company.

Foster & Partners have also been appointed to design four stations for a new high speed railway line in Saudi Arabia in a joint partnership with Buro Happold. The line will link the cities of Mecca and Madinah via Jeddah.

The company's design for a new five star hotel close to Heathrow airport in London has also been given approval. It will be the only five star hotel in the area and is expected to offer the most extensive conference facilities when it is complete.

The rooms will be within six pavilions that are linked by bridges and wrapped in a glass envelope that acts as a barrier to aircraft noise. The entrance will have a floating glass deck with views down to a sunken restaurant, shallow pool and waterfall.