Ada Fung, Former Deputy Director of Housing, Hong Kong Housing Authority

An architect by profession, Ada Fung joined the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) in 1984 and retired at 2017 as Deputy Director of Housing (Development & Construction), whose role was to oversee all facets of public housing development. She has contributed to providing affordable housing for approximately 45 per cent of the 7.5 million population in Hong Kong, driving continuous improvement and sustainability on all fronts. Ada continues to serve Hong Kong with ardour and commitment in various capacities. She is now President of Hong Kong Alliance of Built Asset & Environment Information Management Associations (HKABAEIMA); Chair of Hong Kong Chapter of buildingSMART International; Chair of Committee on BIM of the Construction Industry Council (CIC) until the end of January 2023; and Distinguished Faculty Fellow of Faculty of Architecture at The University of Hong Kong, just to name a few. 

Construction+ spoke with Ada face-to-face at a daylit conference venue. Amidst a relaxed setting, she shared with us what she knows and has learnt about the public housing sector during her tenure in HA, and even some publications on the subject.  

Construction technologies such as building information modelling (BIM) and geographic information system (GIS) have been around for many years now, why do you think the uptake has not been as fast for the housing construction sector for example?
The application of information technology has already begun since I joined HA in 1984. We used computerised construction project management system for data input and update, and shifted from paper drawings to computer-aided design (CAD) drawings as we saw the need to adopt 3D programmes as a continuum. Entering the millennium, a new technology called virtual design and construction (VDC) or BIM emerged. We tried and examined the performance of various BIM products until we found a more suitable one. However, it’s hard for the public sector to promote or mandate any BIM brands to maintain fair competition in the market.

But it was definitely not an excuse for Hong Kong to give up the uptake of innovative technology. BIM and GIS can greatly enhance project management, planning, design and construction efficiency.

Tin Shui Wai is one of the new towns in Hong Kong; image by seaonweb/shutterstock

What are the main challenges faced by the construction sector today in terms of housing construction and design?
First and foremost it is a lack of land reserve. The Government announced in 1997 that 85,000 new flats would be built by both the public and private sectors each year—the goal was achievable because there was enough land for development. Land in new towns like Tung Chung and Tin Shui Wai was available, and some land was converted from industrial to residential. However, unlike Singapore where land can be acquired by reclamation, we don’t have sufficient land in recent years for housing construction.  

Secondly, housing should not be isolated for consideration in a vibrant liveable city. It’s important to plan and build healthy and liveable communities where people can live, work, learn and play in a balanced way.

This is an excerpt. The original article is published in
Construction+ Q1 2023 Issue: Housing Construction: Demand & Supply.
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