• Lead8 Celebrates Fifth Anniversary

    31 December 2019

    Growing from a small design team to now over 200 based in Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and London

    A lot can change in five years as Hong Kong founded architecture and design firm Lead8 is demonstrating. After launching in 2014, co founded by a team of likeminded directors, Lead8 has cemented itself amongst the leading design firms both in the region and internationally. Now more than 200 in size, Lead8’s portfolio has expanded to more than 40 cities from studios across Asia and the UK.


    It’s not just the trajectory of their growth that is being noticed so early into the story, their work for some of the world’s biggest names in property and development is making headlines. SKYCITY in Hong Kong, One Bangkok in Thailand and the upcoming Commercial Landside Terminal at the newly opened Beijing Daxing International Terminal showcase the firm’s success.

    How did a small Hong Kong design firm build such a formidable record in its first five years of operation? Co Founder & Executive Director Claude Touikan says it’s all about relationships. “As designers, we want to influence change and bring new ideas to the industry. Having the trust and belief from our clients and partners, people we have worked with collectively for many years, is an important part of that process. Founding Lead8 gave us the platform to do that.”

    Influencers by design

    Lead8 first made headlines when it unveiled its conceptual design for a 23 km connected pedestrian and cycling network around Hong Kong’s famous harbourfront – HarbourLoop. Bringing a new vision to Hong Kong’s heavily debated waterfront, the team revealed their appetite for thought leadership from the outset. Going on to gain international recognition, from presentations to Hong Kong’s development leaders to winning awards, Harbourloop rightly positioned Lead8 as a design firm influencing positive change.

    “We are incredibly proud of Harbourloop and its role in the future debate of this world-class city and our hometown. It allowed us to profile the talent and creativity of our team as we began our journey and also lend our expertise to a cause we are passionate about. Since then, we’ve brought that thinking to bear beyond conceptual projects to work we have designed and built in our short five years,” said David Buffonge, Co Founder & Executive Director.

    Over the last twelve months, Lead8 has celebrated a number of successes with its portfolio. The firm’s first MixC development in Shenzhen Bay opened its doors and went on to win design awards with the International Council of Shopping Centres, MIPIM Asia and A&D China.

    The scheme also featured developer China Resources Land’s first luxury VIP cinema experience, MixC IMAX; showcasing another side of Lead8’s talents. The firm’s second MixC completion, this time in Jinan, opened in September to deliver a new destination for more than 500 brands in the city and place new thinking for retail-led destinations on display once again.

    “It is a privilege to have the trust from our clients to push new boundaries in the retail sector – both with the projects we have completed and those in the pipeline. Successful commercial design is about creating a sense of place – it is exciting to see how content is driving these projects,” said Chris Lohan, Co Founder & Executive Director.

    Charting new territory

    With an outlook firmly set on shaping new environments, it’s no surprise Lead8 has been commissioned to work on schemes looking to break the mold in their sectors, cities and countries.

    Evolving rapidly, the shift in the aviation industry has seen airport developers, owners and operators dramatically re-think the role of the airport in the 21st century. Winning the Lead Design Architect role for SKYCITY at Hong Kong International Airport has firmly cemented Lead8’s position as a world-leading designer for mixed-form aviation developments. A super regional connector, accessible by air, sea and land, this first-of-its-kind scheme for the city will feature a range of state-of-the-art facilities to enhance HKIA’s status as one of the world’s most successful airport developments.

    The scope at HKIA continues for Lead8 with the appointment to lead the renovation of Terminal 1, delivering a transformative upgrade to the passenger halls of the 21-year old iconic aviation hub.

    Heralding a new era for aerotropolis developments, Lead8 was also approached to bring their expertise to Beijing Daxing International Airport’s Commercial Landside Terminal. The 25,000 sqm development will support the world’s largest airport once it completes later this year, delivering next generation workspaces with integrated retail, dining and entertainment.

    Looking to the future, yet to be released plans for new aviation clients will see the firm take their expertise to new markets and regions in 2020, with appointments with Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia and a new airport project in Australia.

    Commenting on the growing aviation portfolio, Meeta Patel, Co Founder & Executive Director says, “The strength of Asia’s aviation sector is influencing markets around the globe. It is exciting to be at the forefront and evolve our expertise as we take it to new markets like Australia.”

    Smart design for the next generation

    The requirement to advance design thinking within and across all sectors is redefining the built environment. Lead8’s work with Shangri-La Group is one stand-out example. The team is delivering the smart transformation of a former single-purpose, high-end Shangri-La hotel into a mixed-use urban resort combining luxury hotel, business, retail, dining and entertainment.

    “A development such as this is a dream project for designers and we were delighted that Shangri-La Group entrusted us with this complex and high-profile scheme. We are delivering what we hope to be a first for this world-class hospitality brand and for the city of Fuzhou,” said David Buffonge, Co Founder & Executive Director.

    Denser urban environments are also calling for developers to utilise their space more effectively, sustainably and meaningfully. Lead8 has been steadily growing its portfolio with projects known as ‘mini cities’ – neighbourhood-scale schemes which prioritise three-dimensional connectivity, digital and physical integration, multipurpose environments and a strong sense of community.

    In Shanghai, this comes in the form of Shanghai ITC, currently one of the largest sites under development in the city centre which boasts more than 700,000 sqm of development spread across four plots. In Bangkok, Lead8 has joined the internationally renowned team to deliver the multi-retail component of the 1.83 million sqm mixed use scheme One Bangkok.

    “We currently have more than two million sqm of development under design which is putting the ‘mini city’ approach into practice. Cities today are more complex than ever before, their design needs are quickly shifting. This poses many challenges and opportunities which are some of the most exciting and fulfilling to explore as designers,” said Simon Chua, Co Founder & Executive Director.

    Looking towards 2020

    The last twelve months have been momentous for the architecture and design firm and aimed at building a strong foundation from which to launch their next chapter. Following a rebrand, a new online presence at www.lead8.com was unveiled to complement to the firm’s new and expanded headquarters in Hong Kong.

    As summed up by Co Founder & Executive Director Christine Hau, “2020 is the start of another exciting chapter for Lead8. Many of our designs on the drawing board are coming to completion, we are moving into new geographies and creating the next generation of our portfolio. We have come a long way in five years and the best is still to come.”




    More Features
    BENOY’s APAC leadership: their views and vision for the future
    Benoy is a world-class architecture and design firm, with over 70 years of history, having been established in 1947. In 2020, Benoy will be celebrating 20 years in Asia. In these 20 years, Benoy has collaborated on the architecture and design of some of the most iconic commercial buildings and landmarks across the region, such as Jewel Changi, ION Orchard, Iconsiam, Elements, IFS, iAPM and a [...]
    Build a Sustainable Future – HKGBC 10 Years in Hong Kong
    Each city tackles climate change in its own way. Hong Kong sits in the sub tropics and has the densest population on the planet and the most skyscrapers of any city in the world. Our buildings and related activities account for 90% electricity consumption or 60% greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing building’s carbon emissions is of critical importance. (按此浏览简体中文版) The Hong [...]
    Façade design in China by VS-A
    After qualifying as an architect in France in 1986 van Santen began his career in Paris with Renzo Piano. It was here that he journeyed into the world of façade technology and developed his passion for the industry. He went on to establish VS-A in Lille, France in 1989 and over the past thirty years has worked with some of the biggest names in architecture. His portfolio includes iconic [...]
    Hongkong Land’s Yorkville – The Ring by PHA: Merging nature with technological advancement
    World-renowned international architectural design studio PH Alpha Design (PHA) has always been in the vanguard of the delivery of top-notch architecture design to its clients and the community. With Hong Kong as its Asia Headquarters, PHA has extended its reach across the globe, establishing solid presence in London, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing. Over the past 10 years, the practice has [...]
    Services at Great Height
    Born from the fiery collision of two great civilisations, vibrant, dynamic, industrious Hong Kong, Asia’s World City, has championed the rise of countless titans of industry. First the traders and fortune hunters and eventually the Fortune 500s drawn in waves as the city grew relentlessly into one of the world’s preeminent business centres. However, few individuals have ever made quite [...]
    Building on a Legacy
    This year marks the 145th anniversary of one of the longest-running architectural practices in Hong Kong. From 1874, the founders of Leigh & Orange (L&O) brought their design talent and skills to bear on the early urban development of Hong Kong shaping the city through infrastructure, public and civil works that addressed the needs of the community. L&O’s early projects include [...]
    Through Urban Eyes with UNStudio
    When Amsterdam-based UNStudio, founded by Ben van Berkel, took on the design of CapitaLand’s Raffles City in Hangzhou, China, it marked the beginning of a new chapter for the design studio that prides itself on creating high value projects that combine aesthetics with human-centric solutions turning them into architecture and urban planning designs. (按此浏览简体中文版) For Hannes [...]
    Shape the World with “HP Z Workstation”
    Work today emphasises collaboration, instant communication, efficiency and top range equipment. Therefore it is necessary to use high-end computers, especially in professions that require rigorous and errorfree processing, such as finance, media and entertainment as well as design and construction. This makes high-performance computers the most indispensable working partners. [...]
    Shanghai’s New Maritime-Inspired Gala Mall
    JATO Design International Limited is a creative, multi-disciplinary and award-winning international design firm based in Hong Kong, specialized in Master Planning, Architecture, Interior Design and Graphic Design. JATO was established in 2013 as a subsidiary of Jiang & Associates Creative Design Company Limited (ranked 25th in Top 100 giants 2019 of Interior Design magazine). With years [...]