London, United Kingdom
New York, New York
Masdar City, Abu Dhabi
Auckland, New Zealand
You have recently been honored the WELL Changemaker Award by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) and on top of that, you are leading Woods Bagot’s journey toward a sustainable future as the Global Impact Group (GIG) Studio leader for Hong Kong & Shenzhen – what does that mean?
I am honoured for IWBI recognizing my work as a WELL faculty member, delivering key training for the WELL Accredited Professional (AP) exams in 2022 for hundreds of WELL AP hopefuls globally.
The achievement means I can contribute to more WELL projects and support more WELL professionals in the future. This is vital more than ever because we need to design for the future and for human health and wellness in buildings and communities. You can find more information on the WELL AP credential here.
What is the Global Impact Group (GIG)?
At Woods Bagot we are deeply committed to creating measurable impact in all our work through the lens of the climate emergency. As part of our commitment to a proactive response to Architects Declare and our focus on climate change initiatives, we launched the GIG in 2020. We will be socially committed, brave leaders, using technical excellence and collaborative alignment in order to create a sustainable, resilient legacy for future generations.
As part of GIG, we are developing strategies to ensure that we become actors of change to fight climate change through the design of compelling architecture and communities. Russell Fortmeyer, myself and the rest of our GIG team are integrating a toolset such as WeatherShift to measure and quantify that impact in all our projects. We are also partnering with our clients, other professionals, and stakeholders to deliver sustainability in the most effective way, targeting ESG metrics and aligning our work with the best in the industry. Woods Bagot’s GIG continues to research to reimagine the communities of tomorrow for a more sustainable, equal, and engaged future.
Funan, Hong Kong led by Associate Principal Katsuhiro Ozawa and the Hong Kong Woods Bagot team completed in 2019.
Designing with sustainability has been a huge part of the practice, what have you learnt that you’d like to share with others?
We aim to design every project in the most sustainable way, often targeting international green building certifications such as LEED and WELL. One important lesson from early on has been the need for early coordination and engagement with all stakeholders; working on a project that has all major stakeholders appointed from before design, and aligning the whole team around a strong, defined, coordinated sustainability ambition allows for the whole team to move ahead at full speed and avoid abortive work. Additionally, it creates a very strong identity for our narratives that permeates all aspects of the project.
One example of this has been Funan, designed and delivered by Associate Principal Katsuhiro Ozawa and the Hong Kong team completed in 2019. Funan is a large, unique mixed-use project that combines cutting-edge design with strong sustainability and wellness design drivers. The project integrates a number of exemptional features within its public space, such as a 24/7 open bicycle lane crossing the atrium, and a three-storey-high climbing wall. On the podium’s rooftop, we located a 5000sqft urban farm, and here is where the magic happens: the farm’s operator fully adopted our sustainable vision and turned it into a regenerative urban farm that grows native historical crops that were part of Singapore’s diet long ago and were lost in times as the city developed. The farm also partially employs people with mental disability, providing them with a simple job and some respite to their care takers, as well as educational and community workshops, delivering a very strong social and wellbeing impact to Funan’s community.
As part of Earth Day and in celebration of Climate month, Woods Bagot’s GIG team will be creating an art installation. Can you tell us more about this initiative and why it is so important?
The Woods Bagot Asia GIG team will be creating an art installation called “浪 Wave” to stimulate the sea level rising situation. This installation will be part of an exhibition curated by Shanghai Tongji University and Shui On, opening on April 21st at the Pudong Library in Shanghai. Woods Bagot’s participation is the result of two research papers submitted to Shui On Innospace 10×10 competition, developing a narrative around Net Zero design and regenerative urban agriculture respectively.
Woods Bagot is designing the main exhibition located at the center of the main atrium, a sculpture entirely made of recycled materials depicting the impact of sea water levels rising in Shanghai during the next few decades if action is not taken. The different levels are represented through a composition of cardboard seats that not only visualize the impact of climate change, but also creates seating and gathering spaces at the heart of the library, a simple yet impactful design that integrates our GIG mission with People Architecture.
Woods Bagot will be speaking at the opening ceremony’s event and share our GIG story and the release of our Climate Playbook.
“We aim to design every project in the most sustainable way, often targeting international green building certifications such as LEED and WELL.”
Avatar Hong Kong, a concept design by Woods Bagot and Buro Happold, received the Merit Award at the Advancing Net Zero Ideas Competition organised by The Hong Kong Green Building Council with Swire Properties. Can you tell us what makes Avatar Hong Kong so important especially when it comes to designing for Net Zero?
Woods Bagot teamed up with Buro Happold to enter the ANZ competition – Existing Building Category, which was focused on the renovation of Oxford House as Net Zero Carbon by the end of life. The submissions required specific environmental performance reporting and a definition of the circular economy integration strategy.
Our scheme, AVATAR HONG KONG, adopted a co-design approach founded on rigorous analysis of form, materials, and systems, based on the evolution of existing building systems that progressively extend the building’s life far into the future.
We imagined our project to pave the way for Hong Kong’s existing high rise building stock to decarbonize and renovate for a net-zero future. We developed it in three phases, which can be imagined as different goals for any high rise buildings depending on different ambitions:
Full energy, carbon and life-cycle analysis has been carried out through the whole design phase in constant collaboration and interaction with the engineering team.
The design included a range of innovative yet feasible technologies, including basements converted to urban farming facilities, heavily landscaped open air ground lobby and sky-deck parklands, a progressively upgraded façade strategy, atrium climate cells, and a range of clever ventilation, energy generation, and operational performance systems.
Avatar Hong Kong render.
As a true ‘WELL Changemaker’, what would you like to see for the future?
I am truly honored for being awarded the WELL Changemaker award this year, and I believe that integrating our projects with more focus on health and human-centered solutions like the WELL standard outlines is an important part of our work.
This said, I believe that I am just one person within a much larger team, and that Woods Bagot needs to become a world Climate Changemaker, an engine for change and impact through design. We are perfectly placed at the intersection of people, nature, and the built environment; we are extraordinary designers and trained creative collaborators with a strong focus on how behaviors change the places we live in.
Therefore, we have the opportunity to lead the way and show how leadership in architecture design equals unapologetic and complete commitment to the reversal of climate change, the design of resilient and regenerative spaces, and the advocacy for a more just, equal, and sustainable future for all.
Stefano Tronci has been recognized for his advocacy and training in the WELL standard and the WELL AP system. He will be running multiple global WELL AP training sessions for IWBI in April (link & date to be announced). Stefano will also be awarded at the WELL Summit in September 2023, in Washington, DC.
Follow the WELL certified event link to find out more.
If you want to connect with Stefano Tronci or have any questions about GIG, send us a message.
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