Fusing a global perspective with commitment to sustainability

Yang Di
Gerard Evenden is senior executive partner and studio head of Foster + Partners, where he has worked on a diverse range of projects over the past 30 years.
Yang Di
Fusing a global perspective with commitment to sustainability
Courtesy of Foster + Partners / Ti Gong

Gerard Evenden

Who is he?

Gerard Evenden is senior executive partner and studio head of Foster + Partners, where he has worked on a diverse range of projects over the past 30 years. A graduate of the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology, his interest in innovation, materials and new building techniques is evident in his global experience and award-winning projects across the world. He has developed pioneering urban master plans, high-rise towers and transportation buildings. Evenden named his children Florence and Sydney, after cities where he won competitions and lives in Wiltshire, United Kingdom.

Tell me about some of your works, and name the one you are most proud of?

I have led teams on the design of a number of towers in Asia, North America, Australia and the Middle East. Some of our award-winning, high-rise projects include Lumière Apartments and Deutsche Bank in Sydney and The Troika, a residential development in Kuala Lumpur.

My previous work in China includes the UAE Pavilion at the 2010 Expo Shanghai, Bund Finance Center and Hongqiao Vantone Sunnyworld Mixed Use project.

I have worked extensively on projects in the United Arab Emirates, including the Reem Island Residences, Sheikh Zayed National Museum, The Index, World Trade Center Souk and Masdar City. The theme of sustainability that runs through these projects is demonstrated by two UAE Pavilions designed for the Shanghai and Milan World Expos, which were constructed in China and Milan, respectively, and subsequently dismantled and relocated to a permanent home in Abu Dhabi.

Some of my experience entails contemporary interventions in old buildings as seen at the Capella Resort Sentosa, Singapore, which integrates two 1880s Tanah Merah military buildings with a new hotel, villas, extensive event spaces and a spa. Other early projects include Sarriko Station on the Bilbao Metro, the master plan for Imperial College London, the ITN Headquarters and a house in Corsica.

It's the combination of all the work we do that I'm most proud of. There's something in every project that makes it exciting and extraordinary, and I'm always looking forward to the next one.

What project are you currently working on?

I'm involved with several projects across the world, including mixed-use developments in Shanghai. Other current projects around the world include Coral Bloom, an ambitious regenerative tourism project on the Red Sea coast, Circular Quay Tower in Sydney and the recently completed 'Alif – The Mobility Pavilion' at Expo 2021 Dubai.

What's your design style?

Innovation plays a key part in all our projects. We love to push the boundaries of research and collaboration to bring something new to every project. Sustainability has always been a key focus for us since the inception of the practice more than five decades ago. We try to encourage our clients to embrace the highest standards of sustainability in all our projects. And lastly, our projects are always rooted in history and local heritage, embodying the spirit of a place.

Where are you most creative?

It is the creative atmosphere of our studios and the collaborative nature of our team that drive the creative spark for me.

What does your home mean to you?

From a designer's perspective, your home is where you have the first-hand experience of design, as a space that you have created for yourself. I have found it to be a great learning experience and a space for experimentation and creativity.

What do you collect?

I have a passion for cars – it's the integration of style and engineering that appeals to me the most. I recently acquired a Land Rover Series 1, which is a complete design classic. In many ways, it is a very sustainable vehicle. It was created 63 years ago, but you can still refit and rebuild it, which extends its life even further – much like retrofitting an old building.

Where would you most like to go in Shanghai?

Before the current travel restrictions, I was in Shanghai regularly as we are working on a number of projects in the city. I enjoy the varied culture of the city, especially the areas where the old parts of the city have been restored, such as the Bund and the Xintiandi area. It's a rich mix of old and new and how the two come together that makes the city truly unique.

What will be the next big design trend?

The global experiment in working from home – spurred by the pandemic – has dramatically accelerated the shift toward flexible working that was already underway.

The traditional workplace will survive and be even more appreciated for its social and creative opportunities, but it will be used far more flexibly and balanced with time spent operating out of home or a third place, such as a neighborhood office that will sit somewhere between the head office and the home office. The neighborhood office will be a place to access robust IT infrastructure, ergonomic furniture, meet with colleagues and simply create a divide between home life and work life. It will be more easily accessible by walking and cycling.

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