HY William Chan

HY William Chan has done some inspiring work in the built environment and elsewhere that hasn’t gone unnoticed. So what drives this innovative young urbanist?

Sydney urban planner and circular economy innovator HY William Chan has become the only architecture practitioner to be listed globally in the Forbes Magazine 30 Under 30 Lists for 2019. He has also made the GreenBiz 30 Under 30 List in partnership with the World Business Council for Sustainable Business.

Currently working for Cox Architecture in Sydney, Chan is busy scaling up a project with UNICEF using plastic waste for 3D printing, providing STEM education in refugee camps and contributing to architectural research and advocacy on the international stage as a Cities Fellow for the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

This has a local focus, he explains, including exploring housing affordability in Sydney from a social sustainability viewpoint, and looking at alternative models for new developments.

This involves looking at where community “fits in” to affordable housing models, and whether there is a need for “community excellence”.

Circular economy and the role of cities in addressing sustainability are driving passions.

Chan, who is also a Global Shaper with the World Economic Forum and this year headlined a sold-out session at TEDxSydney, says a “startup” attitude is required for the urban planning profession.

“Cities are powerful incubators for innovation towards addressing the pressing global challenge of rapid urbanisation,” Chan says.

“We need more entrepreneurship within urban development so that Australian cities have the foresight in environmental resilience and social inclusion.”

Chan’s sustainability advocacy includes championing the architecture and urban planning professions at the UN General Assembly in New York and the International Union of Architects (UIA) General Assembly in Durban on behalf of the Australian Institute of Architects alongside Jill Garner, Victoria Government Architect, and Graham Burrows, Jackson Clements Burrows.

He sees a clear role for his profession in spearheading change.

“I believe that it is a no-brainer for architects to be involved in city making. It is in our cities that the most pressing global sustainability challenges of our time, particularly the climate emergency, can be addressed.”

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