23 JUN 2019
It's been a year of outstanding achievement so far for professionals in the built environment, exemplified by the projects and people honoured at the RICS Awards 2019 in Hong Kong, mainland China, and Australia.
The RICS Awards showcase the most inspirational initiatives and developments in land, real estate, construction and infrastructure. Across several categories, the awards are regarded as one of the premier built environment awards in Asia Pacific, celebrating the most innovative projects and RICS professionals, and their impact on local communities.
So far this year, we have already seen RICS Awards ceremonies take place in Hong Kong, mainland China, and Australia. Read on to learn about some of the winnings projects and teams that have demonstrated excellence across the region.
It is a sign of Asia's new-found sense of self and placemaking that The Mills is one of the projects recognised in the RICS Awards Hong Kong 2019. Hong Kong's award winners often harked back to the city's history in creating new contributions to its cityscape.
The Mills is a revitalisation project in the gritty industrial district of Tsuen Wan. It dates back to Hong Kong's heyday in the 1960s as one of Asia's vital hubs of textile production. That form of manufacturing at one point employed more than half of Hong Kong's workforce. But it decamped across the border in the decades since.
The Nan Fung Group has taken its own former factory complex, Nan Fung Cotton Mills, which formed the roots of the company back in 1954, and transformed it into an innovative, contiguous space. The project houses the incubator Fabrica, a heritage centre for the textiles industry, "experiential" retail space devoted largely to hand-made goods, and artisanal restaurants.
Nan Fung Development took home the prize for "Refurbishment/Revitalisation Team of the Year" for its efforts. The Mills is a project estimated to have an economic impact of HK$3.34bn (US$425m) in a HK$14bn (US$1.8bn) regeneration of the Chai Wan Kok district.
It is noteworthy that the Jury's Award for Sustainability Achievement at the RICS Awards China went to a bamboo bridge. The Yi Xin Qiao Project, in Dujia Village near Chongqing, is a bridge to the past, of course. Using freely available local materials such as moso bamboo, processed with pesticides and preservatives for durability, it's intended as a model project for isolated villages in China's often mountainous hinterland.
But it is equally a bridge to the future. Four Chinese universities combined to build the bridge at a breakneck pace of two months. It's the longest bamboo bridge ever built in China, at 21 metres, and a breakthrough in the construction technology of this fast-growing renewable resource. Bamboo typically cracks easily, is not that durable and is hard to build with structural integrity. Those are issues that the project, backed by the State Forestry Administration of China and the China Bamboo Industry Association, has worked to resolve.
Further recognition for Sustainability Achievement of the Year went to TaiKoo Hui Guangzhou for a project that uses glass and steel to give an airy and open feel to an innovative retail mall. Also, the Shanghai Engineering Research Center of Existing Building Function Enhancement, where an R&D team did a deep dive into the science behind building renovation technology.
In the highly-competitive Sydney CBD office-leasing market, it is noteworthy that JLL's Corporate Advisory Team managed to take home the Corporate Real Estate Advisory Team of the Year for the second year in a row. This is testament to the relationships they have fostered across a growing portfolio and the world-leading projects they are involved in.
While the RICS Awards 2019 Australia were inundated with a large number of high-calibre submissions, JLL's achievements received particular recognition this year. "Their entry was a fantastic submission," said our judging panel. "They clearly articulated how they had achieved their targeted objectives for customers whilst still achieving a balanced outcome for owners".
Of particular note is the team's handling of the Suncorp Offices project where the team went above and beyond the customer brief to achieve excellence. They sought a future-focused workplace, which was flexible, had a high environmental rating, and went beyond the standard Building Code of Australia requirements. The professionalism of the team helped provide confidence and assurance for the client and their stakeholders.
Officiating at the awards, Tai Lee Siang, Executive Director, BuildSG, BCA, delivered the opening address, where he highlighted that keeping abreast of global trends helps the industry remain relevant and competitive. He also called on all stakeholders to play their part in driving sustained transformation in the built environment industry.
"It was a real privilege to have been one of the judges this year," said Will Myles, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, RICS. "These awards are not just a platform to celebrate the achievements of individual companies but, more importantly, are a benchmark of industry's progress as a whole."