Veanna Chan, director at PLP Architecture, on how she got started in the property industry, her favourite film and song recommendations, her best and worst purchases and the superpower she wishes she had.

Veanna Chan

Veanna Chan

How did you join the property industry?

As an architect in Hong Kong since the early 2000s, I have had the opportunity to work on different projects, including the Landmark Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hong Kong and the Dubai Metro. At PLP Architecture, I have been fortunate enough to advance my architectural career over the last 18 years while in the UK. During this time, I have contributed to projects including the Four Seasons Hotel at Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi as well as London’s Chiltern Place, One Bishopsgate Plaza and Arbor at Bankside Yards.

What does your job entail?

At the moment, I am engaged in the facade construction for the WLA Artificial Intelligence (AI) Lab in Shanghai, which is set to be finished by the end of the year. It is a fascinating project, as it is the world’s first speculatively built AI lab. Additionally, we have embarked on a sizable mixed-use undertaking in the heart of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, featuring a mix of luxury hotel and retail components.

As someone with a keen interest in design co-ordination and team management, I am motivated by clear goals and deliverables, which are big parts of my role. My primary responsibility is to ensure we meet our clients’ expectations in terms of design, timeline and budget.

What do you like most about the property industry?

A well-designed urban building can make a huge difference to the community. It will have a lasting positive impact and benefit generations to come, and it is a true privilege to be able to contribute to that in communities around the world.

And what do you dislike most about it?

Unlike other crafts, visualising urban or building design takes years. For example, PLP Architecture and Native Land’s Bankside Yards project, which we started on in 2011, is still undergoing design refinement.

It is an ongoing process that can take a long time to come to fruition, but that is the nature of the built environment.

What would you change about the property industry?

Architects are often typecast into their areas of expertise early on in their careers, limiting their potential. As an industry, we need to let our team members have exposure to different aspects of building design, from vision to post-construction.

What barriers or challenges have you overcome?

As a female Asian architect, I was fortunate to receive wonderful support from my colleagues and superiors, and my unawareness of minority issues early on in my career proved to be an advantage.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Being appreciated by the people I work with. Architecture is a collaborative effort.

What do you value in people?

Timekeeping and honesty.

What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?

Try different things, and ask questions – there is never a silly question.

Top recommendations

Something to watch:

The film Everything Everywhere All at Once stars the actress Michelle Yeoh, whom I have watched since I was a teenager. I am so proud of the representative for Asian women that she is. It shows that women should not be bound by their age. We can do anything if we believe in ourselves. 

Something to listen to:

Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now by Starship is so 1980s and always puts me in a good mood. There is also a Chinese version, which reminds me of my childhood. 

My best purchase:

The best thing I have spent money on is my Peloton bike. It rescued me from what could have been an unhealthy lifestyle during the various Covid-era lockdowns. Worst, collectively, are all the things I thought I needed but didn’t, especially during lockdown, ranging from kitchen gadgets to random midnight online purchases.

If I could have any superpower:

If I could have one superpower, it would be the ability to pause time, as there is never enough time for a working mum. Or, on the flipside of that, the ability to be in two places at once. That would be a big help when I have to travel abroad for work.