I come from a long line of designers, architects and artists and cannot remember a time when I was not drawing or designing something. I am passionate about design, not just its essentials, but how it can be changed or improved and how the smallest detail can be subtly altered to create a difference in effect. Good architecture, for example, should be appropriate to its environment but also has the responsibility of being as much of a passive building as possible; i.e. that it supports its environment and synchronizes with it rather than being a drain on resources or environmentally antagonistic. For me, architecture – which I studied for my original degree - was where my 'obsession' with sustainable design was born. How can a space be people friendly, community friendly and, on the widest scale, globally sustainable? The way people function in a space or feel in an environment, and the common enjoyment of that experience, is all down to the vision and empathy of the designer. How an individual reacts to the space on a personal level and how a group or a community can take ownership, value or discard public spaces and even on the largest scale, how a city is organized and zoned, planned for growth and development, can encourage sustainability and sustainable thinking for present and future generations. I spent my pre-teenage years in an area that has known enormous change and re-creation: London Docklands. As a child I saw derelict space transformed into the modern commercial and financial hub of London and rat-infested alleys and dilapidated council blocks evolve into clean and modern spaces, interspersed with areas of green where once ships had shifted uneasily at anchor. Change like this is an ongoing pulsing heartbeat in a restlessly demanding environment driven by market forces but also by increasingly cultivated and sophisticated individuals in their demand for a defined reflective space.
Having lived in some of the major cities of the world, London, Paris and Dubai, and now having the opportunity to experience the buzz of Hong Kong, has made me evaluate the urban environment very differently and critically and from within. Development worldwide, but especially within Asia, due to increasing population and economic growth is an opportunity for designers to look at being more 'human’. Cities are not just buildings. They are about people. But they are also about people living, not just in comfort, but in an alliance with their environment in a sustainable outcome. I believe we, as designers, have the responsibility to make this alliance.