Interview: Hans Brouwer, leading architect

“Architecture is a tough profession. The economics are getting tougher and the markets that are currently really active, the BRICS [the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa], are extremely competitive.”

That’s the opening gambit from one of Asia’s leading architects, 52-year-old Hans Brouwer. However, despite the fairly jaundiced outlook, and the fact that this is a man who has experienced the hell of bankruptcy, he appears happy and relaxed when we meet.

Last year, one of his designs, The River, a 265-metre-high masterpiece, won Best Luxury Condo development at the Thailand Property Awards, and in the last 10 years Hans has been steadily racking up the plaudits. His work has graced the front cover of Wallpaper magazine, and his company, HB Design, now has three offices in Singapore, Bangkok and Phuket. They have 20 skyscrapers under construction or due to begin imminently in India, totalling over 13 million square feet of saleable area.

No wonder he’s happy and relaxed, then; despite a hectic schedule, Hans’s company is going from strength to strength.

Fruitful beginnings

Born to a Thai mother and a Dutch father living in Hong Kong, Hans was schooled in Switzerland and opted to begin his university years there. He then transferred to the University of Southern California for the remainder of his degree

“Architecture just seemed the most interesting thing to do. I was really good at geometry, maths and physics, especially 3D geometry,” he tells me.

“After almost dropping out in my first year, I needed to catch up. I learnt that …

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