Introduction: Jason Chia, Perkins + Will

The natural landscape should be a fundamental factor when it comes to design according to 27-year-old Jason Chia.

Born in Singapore Chia is a leading member of the urban design team at Perkins + Will which is based in Dubai and currently involved with the creation of the city’s Design District.

“It used to be that architecture came first and the green or environmental concerns were an afterthought,” he said. “But now that is changing, there is a shift towards putting the environment before the building.

“At first I wanted to be just an architect, as designing something that is beautiful and has an impact on people is very important. But when I looked at the study options I decided that a landscape architect was the role for me. It is because it has so much more to do with the environment.

“You can create a building over a period of, say, two to three years but a landscape evolves over a far longer period of time. Certainly it can be planned but it will evolve naturally and organically and the most you can do is manage it. You cannot really create or design a river, but you can make a stream and watch as it grows naturally.”

Creating a lifestyle is also an important factor in Chia’s philosophy.

“The Dubai Design District is a good example,” he said. “It should not be just a collection of buildings – it should be a place people want to come to and live there. To me design is becoming more and more landscape orientated. Instead of developing what you want on a site – the site itself should tell you what it needs.

“This should encompass things like the height of buildings, the distance between them and how they make an individual person feel. All these factors need to be related to the existing landscape.”

Born in Singapore but with family roots in China Jason Chia took a landscape architect diploma in the city for three years before working for German-based Atelier Dreisetl, a company which specialises in landscape design.
He then spent six months with Aecom before undertaking two years of National Service in the Singapore military. “It marked the transition from teenager to adult,” he said.

After studying urban landscaping in London he now works for Perkins + Will and looks to balance the environment, nature, design and lifestyle in his projects.