Born in Hong Kong and raised in the UK, Roger has worked as an architect for a number of practices in both markets on large-scale master planning, commercial and mixed-use developments. With extensive experience leading complex restoration projects in the UK, China and Hong Kong, Roger has put his knowledge, experience and interest in the regeneration of historical buildings, including Peter Jones, Kings Cross Station and the Royal Military Academy in London. Roger is currently the Chief Executive of the Haw Par Music Foundation Limited, working on the revitalisation of the Haw Par Mansion in Tai Hang, Hong Kong, into a music academy.
You have extensive experience in the regeneration of historical buildings, what originally ignite your passion in heritage conservation?
I haven’t been to this position by chance. I have never been trained as a conservation architect or in this field. But the story started when I was very young and studied in a historic city Bath in the UK where there were all of the amazing Georgian and Victorian buildings. To some extent, it was also a negative experience so far as there is very little creativity for the contemporary buildings as everything has to be preserved and has to be in the pretty same manner as it was before. Everyone loves Bath and it is a tourist attraction. Everything is mock Georgian, even though it is built in a contemporary manner it has to be Georgian. But as a student, we were all looking for creating something contemporary and modern.
It got me thinking that conservation isn’t necessarily about keeping old building. I think there must be a way to cope with new things in a historic city. So it was sort of my formative years for some of the ideas I have now. At that time I was strongly against prestige and conservation for the sake of it. After graduation, I had worked in London for almost 20 years. London is a city with great history and British people are especially good at keeping old things and heritage. Even when we were doing new buildings, it would probably be in the conservation area or next to the historic building which made you consider all of those things. So it was an organic and specific training to think in a certain way about history, heritage and context.
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