Meet Yanchee Lau, Associate, Hong Kong

Yanchee discusses his unconventional background in engineering and how it has taken him to the other side of the world.

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Hi Yanchee, please tell us about yourself.
I’m a structural engineer by background, but my experience has touched on the many facets of engineering consultancy for the built environment, particularly design communication. After about 14 years based in London, I relocated to Hong Kong at the end of 2017 to expand Eckersley O’Callaghan’s offering in Asia.

Why Asia and, specifically, Hong Kong?
We’ve been working on projects in Asia for over a decade from our offices in Europe and the US. As we currently have projects in China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, it made perfect sense to establish our presence as part of our commitment to our clients in the region. The local markets are very exciting, with the landscapes of many countries rapidly changing, and we are looking to do more in this part of the world through our high-quality engineering.

From our base in Hong Kong, we can reach half the world’s population within a five-hour flight. Hong Kong is one of the world’s great cities – that is, small yet perfectly formed, intensely busy and active, and ideally located. On a personal level, my parents were originally from Hong Kong and I wanted to experience the local culture. When friends in the UK ask what it’s like, I say there is a buzz like no other. And the food is great. It’s something you have to experience first-hand. 

How’s it different?
I think there are ever-growing expectations of experiences in work, life and play in Asia. For example, some of the concepts and standards in workplace, hospitality, retail, and food & beverage settings are very progressive, perhaps more so than in Europe. The markets are highly competitive, and clients are constantly finding new ways to delight consumers. We are fortunate to be working with forward-thinking developers such as Swire Properties, Wing Tai Properties and New World Development, who take that long-term view of how they approach their projects.

Where do you see Asia in 10 years’ time?
The key challenge is undoubtedly urbanisation. Coupled with this is the availability of space, the liveability of the urban environment, and the development of smart cities. The distinction between places to work and live will increasingly become blurred and integrated within each other. As consultants in the built environment, we will have to respond to changing ideas about how architecture creates new communities. With the emergence of technology, this is a critical moment as to whether we fully embrace its potential for the cities we live in.

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