BE—150 Hong Kong Launch and Alumni Function

With nearly 400 alumni living or working in the territory of Hong Kong, the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning has a significant network active within the region. For the international launch of BE­—150, Professor Julie Willis, Dean of the Faculty travelled to Hong Kong alongside several colleagues to highlight and celebrate this connection.

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Landing on a hazy, damp afternoon in the middle of March, it’s easy to understand why design graduates seek opportunities in Hong Kong. Rising out of the ancient, undulating terrain is one of the most spectacular skylines in the world, split apart by Victoria Harbour and enclosed by mountains covered in dense greenery. Hong Kong is a city with one foot set firmly in the future.

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A tour of Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts marked the beginning of formalities with alumnus Joe Lui, a Hong Kong native and former student of Professor Willis, guiding the tour group and offering insight through his local lens. Situated in the restored Central Police Station compound, Tai Kwun is comprised of three declared monuments – the former Central Police Station, Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison. The compound acts simultaneously as a repository for heritage, a cultural space to exhibit art and a place for socialising. Between the severe history of the prison, the colonial influence in architecture and the modern art of the JC Contemporary building, Tai Kwun provides a broad introduction to the diverse cultural influences that inform Hong Kong’s identity.

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The alumni programme culminated in a reception at the Mandarin Oriental with the BE—150 Hong Kong Alumni Function. Hosted on the 40th floor overlooking the neon lights of the CBD, the Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning was proud to host approximately 50 University of Melbourne alumni with the span of graduating years stretching across multiple disciplines from the 1950’s through to the 2010’s. Professor Willis was honoured to be joined by Hong Kong alumni, including ABP’s first Hong Kong based graduate, Andrew Lee King Fun, Roger Ma and others who, through their generous contributions to the Faculty, are recognised in our award-winning Glyn Davis Building through integral features like the Andrew Lee King Fun Gallery, the Douglas & Joaquina Lee Room and the Hong Kong Studio.

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The BE—150 program celebrates 150 years of built environment education at the University of Melbourne and provides an opportunity to reflect on the history within built environments disciplines and professions, using that discourse as a lens through which to interrogate both the present and future. Professor Willis expressed her gratitude to guests for their contribution to that history: 

“You have helped young alumni returning home here to Hong Kong. You have helped Australians and others moving here pursue their careers, and provided leadership and enthusiasm. This global exchange of ideas and practice is transforming our disciplines, our practice, our ways of work and the urban forms of our cities for the better.”

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The event concluded with Professor Willis reflecting on the wonderful experiences she had shared with our Hong Kong alumni and outlined a desire to continue to build on these invigorating connections in the coming years.

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