The Director of Architectural Services (DArchS), Mrs LAM YU Ka-wai, Sylvia, retired in December last year. In her 30-odd years with the Government, from an architectural graduate to the head of a department, she had handled projects of all scales. In each project, she served the public wholeheartedly and worked closely with her team to respond to people’s views and needs. Seeing more and more women and young people joining the architectural sector, she feels happy and believes that they will carve out a niche for themselves. So, do you want to know what messages the former DArchS has for her colleagues? Let’s hear her talk about it.
Mrs Sylvia LAM joined the Government as an Architectural Graduate in 1986 and was promoted to Chief Architect in 2010, to Government Architect in 2013 and to Deputy Director of Architectural Services in 2016. She took up the post of DArchS in December 2017, leading the department in providing a comprehensive range of professional advice and services to the Government and other related institutions regarding the design, planning, construction, maintenance and development of buildings and public facilities.
Witnessing district transformation
Mrs Sylvia LAM shares with us that the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) implements about 30 construction projects every year, many of which are public facilities such as libraries, sports centres and parks. Over the years, it can be said that she has witnessed the transformation of districts. She particularly remembers that, since the 80s, quite a number of residential buildings have been built on reclaimed land in the Eastern district, giving rise to the demand for corresponding community and government facilities, including the Siu Sai Wan Sports Ground that Mrs Sylvia LAM took part in building back then. She finds it very satisfying and meaningful that residents can enjoy these community facilities.
Unforgettable experience: emergency response to typhoon damage
The Siu Sai Wan Sports Ground, opened in 1996, has a spectator stand with a capacity of about 12 000. In 2018, the sports ground was severely damaged by super typhoon Mangkhut, with the cover destroyed and sea water rushing into the spectator stand. The scene was so shocking that Mrs Sylvia LAM can still vividly remember it. Colleagues from the ArchSD and the Civil Engineering and Development Department immediately took a number of temporary measures. Later, to strengthen the sports ground’s capability to withstand wind and waves, colleagues built additional protective facilities and carried out beautification works such as painting on the wave walls and setting up additional seating. She appreciates the efforts of colleagues and hopes that the public can also feel the thought they have put into the work.
Proper local consultation on works projects
Besides large-scale works projects such as the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal and the Children’s Hospital, a number of small-scale district projects have managed to impress Mrs Sylvia LAM with the feeling that “minor works projects have major significance”. Taking the Eastern District Cultural Square in Shau Kei Wan as an example, she says that apart from its unique design, the ArchSD consulted the Eastern District Council and local residents during the construction process. Particularly, in order to help residents understand the situation better, they used Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology to simulate the actual sound level during stage performance that would be held after project completion. The square, opened in 2019, has become a good destination for local residents to visit.
More women joining the construction sector
In addition, Mrs Sylvia LAM is impressed by the Eastern District Cultural Square project because there was a media report saying the project was led by “three female generals”, including the former Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Ms LI Mei-sheung, Michelle, the Director of Home Affairs, Miss TSE Siu-wa , Janice, and her, which has made her feel very proud of women’s contribution in the areas of pubic affairs and construction field. She says that she is very pleased to see an increasing number of women joining the building and construction sector, so that there will be more different voices in the industry that may complement each other.
Completing quarantine facilities with high speed
Regarding her most memorable experience, she says that it is definitely leading the team to fight the virus. She recalls that at the onset of the outbreak last year, i.e. on 25 January (the first day of the Lunar New Year), she received a call tasking the ArchSD and other departments to collaborate in constructing quarantine facilities at the fastest speed. In February, she led a team to commence the works using the innovative Modular Integrated Construction (MiC) technology, and it took just 26 days to complete the first batch of 118 quarantine units at the Basketball Court of the Lei Yue Mun Park. From February to the end of last year, over 4 000 quarantine units were completed to address the needs arising from the anti-epidemic work.
The seemingly impossible has become possible with the completion of additional quarantine camps within a short time. She would like to thank in particular each and every one of her colleagues, the contractors and engineering consultants for joining this war against the epidemic. For her, the most touching moment was her team members working day and night in the construction site for early completion of the works in their endeavour to protect Hong Kong.
Aspirations for young people to create more extraordinary projects
Having just retired, what are her messages for her colleagues? “The young generations will supersede the old ones”, as the saying goes. She has full confidence in the younger generation. Looking back on the happy moments when she was working with younger colleagues, she could deeply feel their vigour and enthusiasm. She believes that the collaboration of senior and younger colleagues will bring out more extraordinary projects.
As Mrs Sylvia LAM says, as a government department, we should do our best in a humble mind to construct suitable facilities for the public. Also, let me wish Sylvia a happy retirement and hopefully, she will visit some of the projects she has taken part in so as to enjoy them as a user. Certainly, she will get a different feeling from the experience.
3 January, 2021Back