Five years after its inception in 2014, Lead8 has jumped from a start-up with a staff of eight and a single office to a company employing more than 200 people. With its network of studios in Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and London and a portfolio of work covering 40 cities, Lead8 epitomises the can-do spirit of its home city – Hong Kong. Christine Hau, Co-founder and Executive Director, believes the collective strengths and experience of the founders – Chris Lohan, Claude Touikan, David Buffonge, John Denton, Meeta Patel and Simon Chua, whose expertise spans master planning, architecture, interior design, graphics and branding – have helped the firm build a reputation as a respected international design brand.
“Not so long ago, aviation developments were seen as mainly transport hubs,” she said. “Today, we are seeing them transform into much more. Air travel presents huge opportunities for owners and operators of airport developments to capture the interest of an increasing cohort of passengers, visitors and their own airport communities. As such, you are seeing the aviation sector call upon expertise from designers like Lead8 who know how to create destinations which engage with visitors, are commercially successful and deliver an experience.”For the Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Group, Lead8 is transforming the existing Fuzhou Shangri-La from a high-end hotel into a mixed-use urban resort in the southern mainland city of Fuzhou. The project, due to open in 2022, converts the property into a transport-oriented, multi-dimensional development with an emphasis on the wider community, featuring public green spaces and a broad mix of uses. Similarly, Lead8 announced its appointment this year to work on the One Bangkok project, a highly anticipated future development that will deliver 1.83 million square metres of integrated mixed-use development on a 16-hectare site in the heart of Bangkok. As Thailand’s largest integrated development, and its first LEED Neighbourhood Platinum development, the scheme is expected to accommodate up to 200,000 people per day following its completion in 2026. Lead8 is working with a local and international consortium to complete the multi-retail component. With the retail industry continuing to push its boundaries, Lead8 has also been engaged by leading developer Hongkong Land to deliver an innovative concept in Chongqing city in the southwestern mainland for a retail development called The Ring. The project will feature one of the largest indoor botanic gardens in the mainland, uniting people with nature in a dynamic and living retail experience.
Hong Kong is Lead8’s largest studio and a hotbed of talent, Ms Hau said. “The city has always been a dynamic place to live and work and it has for many years been a great talent pool, attracting many people from all over the world. I believe Hong Kong will continue to be a platform for talent, design thinking and a gateway to Asia,” she said.The founders also believe culture is a big contributor to why Lead8 has been so successful. “In our company, we see success as fostering leadership and collaboration – giving the opportunity for our teams to grow both personally and professionally,” Ms Hau said.“Our commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility and being known as not only great architects and designers, but also model corporate citizens, is also a true passion of our team – and an important ethos. Our CSR philosophy is to contribute to design through education and thought leadership, creating ideas for the built environment and a pathway for a better community for the next generation of architects and designers.”