08 Mar 24

Inspiring inclusion across W-B Asia

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2024, Woods Bagot China brings you the stories of 9 extraordinary women who have embraced the power of #InspireInclusion. These trailblazers come from diverse backgrounds, spanning the fields of architecture, interior design, project management, finance administration, and motherhood.

At Woods Bagot, inclusion is a spirit deeply ingrained in the DNA of every Woods Bagot member, inspiring us to embrace difference and diversity as sources of creativity. We encourage all designers to explore and innovate in their areas of interest, regardless of roles, geographic locations, or shifts in fields.

Each of these remarkable women has a unique personality that shines through, symbolized by a color or a powerful word that resonates with them the most. Their stories exemplify resilience, creativity, and determination, inspiring us all to break barriers and champion inclusivity.

See what ‘Inspire Inclusion’ means to the the Woods Bagot leadership across Asia below.

Winnie Kwok, Associate Principal, Hong Kong

‘Inspire Inclusion’ means transcending boundaries. I joined Woods Bagot Melbourne studio 15 years ago as a young architect looking for a new challenge and wanting to explore different projects and roles. Transitioning from being a designer to a project manager provides me with a more comprehensive understanding of the project lifecycle, enhance my leadership and communication skills, and enable me to contribute to the overall success of projects in a more strategic and holistic manner.

How do you view gender in the industry?

I strongly believe that gender is not a barrier; prejudice is. Even in the so-believed male-dominated field of architectural design, many women have faced challenges such as gender stereotypes and work intensity. However, they have proven through their exceptional work abilities and outstanding leadership that gender is not the measure of one’s capabilities. They have successfully showcased the value of female architects.

Fan Wu, Associate, Beijing

Jade Wang, Designer, Shanghai

Inspiring inclusion can be a profound philosophical statement, one that delves into the philosophy of human diversity. It can also be a small-scale issue, as small as a tactile paving or an elevator that is wheelchair accessible. Inclusive design has the ability to extend the lifespan of a building, which distinguishes architectural design from other design products. This requires architects to possess a deeper reservoir of knowledge and a greater sense of human empathy, to be mindful of the present and analyze the visible future, while considering the flexibility of design.

How do you adapt to new changes and transitions?

I am a naturally curious person, and I genuinely enjoy asking questions and listening to people. It is how I intuit the needs and desires of a place or a person. I then reflect, analyze or acquire new skills to respond in the best possible way. This is how I adapt and connect to every new environment, from architecture to interior design, from design to management, and from North American to Hong Kong and now Singapore.

Elena Ma, Senior Associate, Hong Kong

Karin Chow, Senior Associate, Hong Kong

Balancing work and family as a working mom with two young children can be challenging. Flexible work arrangements benefit working moms during challenging moments, making it easier to balance work and family obligations.

From a mother’s perspective, inclusive design in architecture and spaces is to incorporate accessible features for all users. During the project design process, specific considerations may vary depending on factors such as the age of the child, their individual needs, and the project’s overall goals. Consulting with parents/end users and understanding their requirements can help tailor the design to their needs.

When I think of inclusion, I think of the importance of integrating diversity and expertise. My education background at CAFA (Central Academy of Fine Arts) has granted me a unique artistic perspective, guiding me to approach each project with a refined professional viewpoint. It enables me to express and present brand culture in the most optimal artistic form.

Ella Bi, Senior Interior Designer, Beijing

Ning Tang, Designer, Shanghai

Embrace the technology. AI, as a new tool, has the potential to further enhance work efficiency and diversity, assisting designers in breaking free from the constraints of traditional design tools and greatly expanding the possibilities of design. From this perspective, advanced technology and humanism are not contradictory, but rather complementary, together shaping the architectural characteristics of this era.

The ever-changing roles in modern life inspire the inclusivity in space design. Designers not only consider the flexible transformation of functionality but also incorporate personal tastes and styles into the design. This allows for the inclusion of more personalized details in the space, such as colors, textures, artwork, and decorations.

Shadow Yang, Associate, Shanghai

Mia Yao, Finance Administrator, Shenzhen

The key is aiming for a collaborative spirit and shared values. As an integral department, although we may not directly participate in the design process, we need to engage in open collaboration and communication with the designers at every stage of the design process to ensure the smooth delivery of design outcomes. An inclusive environment can unlock the potential in everyone, and I am delighted to be doing what I love and receiving recognition at Woods Bagot.

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Shirley Hao
Content and Communications Manager (China)

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