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VIEWS


ASK THE ARCHITECT


Joyce Chan is head of sustainability at HOK’s London studio. A champion of innovative sustainable design, she has applied her 12 years plus experience to a range of UK and international projects. She tells ADF why sustainability needs to remain a top priority


WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART OF YOUR JOB?


There are some fantastic new ideas out here, such as building technologies that open up possibilities to use greenery to design a facade that will also provide a carbon absorption role. However, the challenge is always to champion the ‘outside the box’ thinking against practicalities such as cost, and trying to find a balance. It is however always very rewarding to work with clients that are committed to making a difference in terms of sustainability. I’d also add that finding a work and life balance is also an ongoing challenge, thanks to my two demanding boys who never sleep!


WHAT DO YOU SAY TO CLIENTS WHEN THEY ASK FOR A CLEAR DEFINITION OF SUSTAINABILITY?


I think it is always important to pose the question back to the client, to find out what they mean when they reference sustainability. Do they have a clear commitment to carbon reduction, or are they looking to reduce energy bills? We’re always passionate that commitments to sustainability should eventually lead to other great initiatives, such as wellbeing and health benefits.


WHY DID YOU ORIGINALLY DECIDE TO ENTER THE PROFESSION?


I took a slightly unusual path into architec- ture. My first degree focused primarily on environmental and sustainable design, and this provided me with a different perspec- tive and training for when I subsequently shifted over to architecture. I was driven to become an architect because I wanted to be the person who draws and manages the projects, and who ensures that the green objectives are followed through.


WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT YOUR JOB THE MOST?


The sheer variety of my role is very appealing. The opportunity to work as project architect on a range of hugely different projects, from a townhouse renovation to a west end office, is something that has attracted me to my current role. I enjoy the variety each day brings, whether speaking at a conference on smart cities or WELL, or heading up R&D into a fascinating sustainability and innovation topic such as community isolation and how we can create spaces that actively engage communities. I also travel a lot with my role, and really enjoy visiting different cities.


ADF JANUARY 2018


IS THE TERM SUSTAINABILITY OVERUSED AND MISUNDERSTOOD?


It’s not overused, and in fact given its importance I don’t think we shout it loud enough! However, it can certainly be


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I wanted to be the person who ensures that a project’s green objectives are followed through


Joyce Chan, head of sustainability at HOK’s London studio


misunderstood. Sustainability isn’t simply about introducing more trees or photovoltaics into a development; it is an evidence-based approach that uses the power of environmental design to inform analysis. It can also have many meanings. It’s not something that is solely measured by carbon.


WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT AND WHY?


I think, for any architect, nothing can beat the delivery of a completed project that you’ve designed. I’ve worked on the delivery of many exciting and challenging projects during my career, including on the very first BREEAM airport terminal and on


HOK’s office retrofit project at Park Street, Mayfair, London


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