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Speech by SDEV at ARCASIA Awards for Architecture 2016 Awards Presentation Dinner (English only)

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, at the ARCASIA Awards for Architecture 2016 Awards Presentation Dinner today (September 29):

Vincent (President of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects (HKIA), Mr Vincent Ng), President Sathirut (President of the Architects Regional Council Asia (ARCASIA), Mr Sathirut Nui Tandanand), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening.

It gives me great pleasure to join you at this presentation dinner for the ARCASIA Awards for Architecture 2016. My warmest welcome to all of you here, especially those who have flown thousands of miles to Hong Kong. I also wish to congratulate all the award winners tonight for your outstanding works.

Enhancing our built environment has and will always be one of the Hong Kong Government's top priorities and it is most heartening for me to see Hong Kong hosting the 17th Asian Congress of Architects. The Congress provides a perfect opportunity for experts and professionals from the architectural field to discuss and exchange ideas and to share professional knowledge and experience that can help raise building quality.

Good architecture not only has a positive impact on our physical environment but can also reflect the cultural values and identities of our societies. The ARCASIA Awards recognise the exemplary work done by architects in Asia. They encourage the enhancement of the Asian built environment and raise awareness of the important roles of architecture and architects in the social, economic and cultural life of the region.

I am delighted to see that this year's awards attracted a total of 369 entries from 19 jurisdictions, each with unique designs demonstrating excellence in one of 10 categories of buildings closely linked to our daily lives. I am sure the jurors must have had some tough decisions in picking the winners.

In recent decades, we have seen a shift in the momentum of growth from the traditional Western nations to Asia. Increases in population, urbanisation and industrialisation have led to consumption of natural resources at an unprecedented rate, resulting in increased economic and labour strains. Sustainable architecture not only creates a healthy and user-friendly living environment, but also contributes to preserving biodiversity and ecosystems by using limited resources more efficiently. Of course, it also beautifies the urban context and so forth - but I don't think I need to further elaborate on that in front of so many experts here.

It is the Hong Kong Government's mission to develop Hong Kong into a healthy, low-carbon, resource-efficient and smart metropolis that is in harmony with nature. To achieve this, we have formulated a green government building policy to encourage environmentally friendly design. You might be interested to know that the cruise terminal building where we are now, which was built by the Government, has achieved the highest grade in our local building environmental assessment system. It has incorporated a wide variety of green elements not only in its design but also in its construction. This building and some 8,000 other public buildings offer a valuable opportunity for the Government to showcase good green practices. I believe the commitment and leadership demonstrated by the Government, coupled with other incentives such as floor area concession, could provide the driving force for the non-government sector to take positive action to enhance the green performance of their buildings.

ln addition to encouraging environmentally friendly new development, we also strive to protect, conserve and revitalise historical and heritage sites and buildings to enhance and enrich Hong Kong's living environment for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations. Conserving Central, one of our major initiatives, includes several innovative projects to preserve many of the important cultural, historical and architectural features in our Central Business District. I know architects love to travel around the world and experience the spatial quality of different architecture. I recommend you take a walk through Central to experience some of the projects we have already completed. The former Police Married Quarters on Hollywood Road has been transformed into PMQ, a hub for creative industries. I am pleased to mention that this project won the Special Architectural Award - Heritage and Adaptive Reuse in the HKIA Annual Awards 2014. And that award last year was again won by our Architectural Services Department, for renovation and preservation of the former Legislative Council Building to provide a new home for the Court of Final Appeal.

We have also adopted a creative approach in preserving government-owned historic buildings and expanding their usage by working with social enterprises under a partnership scheme. Examples on this which you may also like to visit include the Tai O Heritage Hotel, transformed from a police station on Lantau Island. A visit there will also enable you to explore Tai O's exceptional natural and traditional treasures nearby. Another successful example of our partnership scheme is Mei Ho House Youth Hostel in Sham Shui Po, adapted from the only surviving Mark I H-shaped public housing block from the 1950s in Hong Kong. To address the threats to historic buildings posed by redevelopment, we have come up with incentives and administrative measures to help prevent privately owned historic buildings from being demolished. All these initiatives demonstrate our eagerness to preserve and make better use of our heritage, despite facing many challenges.

Ladies and gentlemen, with the increasing challenges and constraints of which we are all well aware, it is important that architects and all others involved in the built environment collaborate in exploring creative ideas and pioneering technologies for the betterment of our future and the preservation of our planet.

Let me close by wishing the Asian Congress of Architects every success for many more years to come, and my heartfelt congratulations again to all the winners tonight and gratitude to all of you here for your dedication and contribution to making this world a better place.

Thank you very much!
Ends/Thursday, September 29, 2016
Issued at HKT 20:27