Awardee 得主 - Dr Donald Liao Poon Huai, CBE, JP 廖本懷博士
Dr Donald LIAO Poon Huai (b. 1929) has been instrumental in pioneering public housing design and masterminding public housing policy for the well-being of generations of Hong Kong residents. As one of the first cohort graduating from the University of Hong Kong with a Bachelor of Architecture, Dr Liao is best known for his planning and design of the renowned Wah Fu Estate, completed between 1967 and 1978. The “Twin Tower Blocks” became the adopted format for many housing estates in Hong Kong. The estate was designed as a living community with self-contained facilities, the concept of which has impacted decades of subsequent public housing developments. He has also served in a number of key positions in the Hong Kong Government and helped formulate new urban planning policies which have left a lasting footprint in the city’s housing landscape.
As the Commissioner for Housing (1968), Director of Housing (1973-1980), and Secretary for Housing and Chairman of the Housing Authority (1980-1985), he played a crucial role in the planning of self-sufficient public housing estates with self-contained units. This innovative planning marked a breakthrough in public housing design which enhanced the standard of living and benefitted a wide sector of Hong Kong’s community. This unprecedented initiative influenced social housing policies, not only locally but also in other jurisdictions around the world.
In 1972, the Government launched the Ten Year Housing Programme, which resulted in the provision of public housing on a massive scale. Dr Liao contributed significantly to its success.
In his works, Dr Liao demonstrated how an architect's vision and mission can be realised through professional expertise and dedicated leadership, which he contributed not only to the architectural profession, but also to the general public through his achievements at policy level, during his tenure as an official member of the Legislative Council (1973-1989), the Executive Council (1985-1989) and the Town Planning Board (1968-1980), and as Secretary for District Administration in the 1980s. He is a role model for all architects who wish to serve in public positions, to leave long-lasting effects in the creation of a liveable environment through professional knowledge. Dr Liao curated the Home Ownership Scheme, which offered an accessible ladder to low-income citizens to purchase their own housing units, and facilitated social mobility in the decades to come. He also pioneered the conservation of heritage buildings and trees, which inspired generations of architects and environmentalists on the importance of preserving our history and the natural environment. His ideas and works have a lasting impact on the community and will continue to inspire future generations to innovate for the betterment of Hong Kong.
We highly commend Dr Liao’s spirit and his lifetime achievements, which include innovative public housing designs, impactful housing policies, and general awareness of the significance of built and natural heritages. The award of Gold Medal will stimulate our fellow architects to continue creating a more inclusive built environment that can contribute to the thriving of future communities.