Urban Designer & Environmental Planner,Habitat for Humanity Vietnam | Vietnam
At age 26, when most young people are still busy figuring out their lives, landscape architect Lucinda Hartley has already been shaping other people's lives—namely the poor—through her professional and volunteer work.
For the past five years, she has split her time between private practice in Australia and Asia-Pacific and grassroots initiatives, pursuing an active interest in socially and environmentally responsible design.
Coming from an environmental science background, green efforts have always been a priority for Hartley. She aims "to foster a design culture that is innovative and inclusive, demonstrating initiative in social responsibility and climate change resilience and leadership in sustainable urbanisation".
So what drives this young crusader in her quest to make this world a better place, besides "coffee and running"? She says two quotes have been keeping her motivated.
The first is her favourite quote by Dr Paul Polak from International Development Enterprises: "The majority of the world's designers focus all their efforts on developing products and services exclusively for the richest 10 percent of the world's customers. Nothing less than a revolution in design is needed to reach the other 90 percent."
And the second is the UN Millennium Development Goal "to improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020" (Target 11, Millennium Development Goal No. 7).
Hence, it is with these realisations that Hartley wants to lead the change in helping the underdog.
"It's the communities which least contribute to climate change which will be the most affected. We're facing an urbanised future where the majority of the world's urban population will live in slums and informal settlements so perhaps the greatest impact we can have in terms of sustainable development is to focus on the low income."
"I hope to work to change the culture of the built environment industry to be pro-poor, and to shift the 90:10 ratio of the world's design resources to a more even balance."
Founding Director, Vietnam Green Building Council | Vietnam
Starting out as a writer in a different field and from a different country did not stop Jalel Sager, the Founding Director of Vietnam Green Building Council (VGBC), from taking the leap and diving into environmental issues, which he sees are "the most important issues humans will have to deal with in the next 100 years".
This consciousness was triggered no less by climate change that has "more or less haunted" him for the last decade. And with it came the realisation that "the issue of the environment is deeply tied to other aspects of humanity—all of them. It reflects social injustice, modern psychology, cultural disintegration, even war and peace. It reflects our tremendous societal and technological changes."
"Resource scarcity and ecological damage will cause a fundamental revision of the way we live, consume, and interact with one another. No other issue is even close in its potential impact."
Born and educated in the US, Sager has always been "strangely attracted to the concept of green building", and that fascination grew when he learnt six or seven years ago that buildings "might someday produce more energy than they consume".
Also, being a writer, he is constantly interested in human affairs and progress, and due to his eclectic background, "which spans several continents", he feels like a "global citizen" with a "naïve desire" to help humanity as much as he can. "[A] desire to protect the extraordinary natural world we've been endowed with and [yet] are trying our hardest to ruin. [A] desire to preserve a civilised and habitable world for my future children or, the way things are going, perhaps for myself."
SEEKER OF PARADIGMS
TAY KHENG SOON
Principal Architect, Akitek Tenggara | Singapore
More than a renowned architect, Tay Kheng Soon is an activist and a powerhouse of ideas who is not afraid to make himself heard. It is not surprising then this multi-hyphenate, with countless awards and accolades under his belt, is well-known for his outspokenness and strong opinions since the 1960s. He has spoken against conforming to Western architectural designs—both in practice and education—and advocates an "unlearning process" to bring about tropical architecture models that are climatically and culturally suitable to Asia because "the tropics is not solids and voids but shade and edges". Tay's building projects in the 1980s and 1990s (e.g., the KK Women's and Children's Hospital) are reflective of his own brand of tropical building language of "line, edge, mesh and shade".
Today, Tay is still constantly challenging and rethinking existing paradigms, and coming up with new ideas. And he is not one to do something just because someone else says so.
"I think of new ideas. I don't believe in waiting to be commissioned. I create situations."
Motivated by "self belief", he embarks on projects not by considering the personal benefits that such endeavours would bring him but more so because they relate to "the great issues of our time".
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