Every year, we scope out 18 women who are driven by a desire to bring positive change and have achieved success in their chosen field as part of the Great Women Of Our Time awards. Meet 2019’s Design & Style nominee, Vivien Leong, Consultant, Ipli Architects:
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Meet Vivien Leong – Great Women Of Our Time 2019 Design & Style Nominee
If you have ever stopped to admire the honeycomb-like structure known as The Hive at Nanyang Technological University, then you have Vivien Leong to thank for it.
She was the project lead for the multi-use building at the time while working with CPG Consultants.
A trained architect in London, she relocated back to Singapore in 2011 to “use my professional skills to help improve lives” but says there are still many misconceptions about the industry.
In particular, she and many women like her have faced gender discrimination in the workplace that she believes can have devastating effects on one’s morale, self-confidence, and future career prospects.
“There is the age-old cliche that an architect should be a man. I even know someone who believes that testosterone makes men better architects! I do not agree, obviously,” laments Vivien.
“Don’t assume that the man in the room is necessarily the boss and the woman is his assistant.”
The fact is that discrimination against women happens in all industries and at all levels but Vivien has some advice for women who feel they are being undermined at the office.
“Do not think that you are not good enough,” she affirms, “and do not undersell yourself.”
But aside from this, Vivien is still enthralled with her profession saying, “I think going through the rigorous process of designing a building is very good for the mind and soul as there is a good balance between science and art, humanity and functionality.”
From young, Vivien always knew that her life would be shaped by creativity but did not know that it would lead her to pursue architecture.
“I had always imagined that I would pursue some kind of creative profession, perhaps in art or music. During the time I was deciding what to study, there were not many choices at the local universities relating to creative fields. Architecture stood out as an obvious choice,” she recalls.
“I remember my watercolour teacher saying to me that while it is enjoyable to paint pictures of buildings, designing one is a totally different matter; maybe that made me curious so I decided to jump into it.”
While she says she didn’t exactly enjoy the long hours and rigorous learning methods employed by her lecturers in architecture school, she grew to appreciate the discipline over years of practice.
“There is great satisfaction in being able to use my professional skills to help solve people’s problems and improve their lives,” she shares.
“It might not have to be an expensive project, sometimes just moving a piece of furniture from one place to another results in a big improvement in the way space is used or experienced. Beyond the bricks and mortar, I like the human aspect of architecture.”
Photos: Vee Chin & Tan Wei Te
Fashion Direction: Aaron Kok
Styling Assistants: Juliet Suen & An Lyn Chee
Hair: Jason Wong/Salon Nu, Grego & Ash Loi/Sonder Salon
Makeup: Keith Bryant Lee, Hongling Lim, Rina Sim, Wee Ming & Jyue Huey (for Shann Sok)
Location: 89NR, The Working Capitol, Botanico at The Garage & The Summerhouse
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