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Job requires a verdant touch

For landscape architect Angie Au-yeung, one of the most fulfilling aspects of her work involves being able to blend functional buildings and facilities into aesthetically pleasing structures the public can enjoy.

As a landscape architect with the Drainage Services Department who specialises in greening associated with drainage works, the scope of Au-yeung's duties is wide. These include channel greening, ecological conservation, landscape planning and design, rooftop and vertical greenery planning, landscape enhancement and rehabilitation, research and development and vegetation management.

Au-yeung's responsibilities include spending a considerable amount of time outdoors making site visits and getting a feel for the local surroundings as part of her research and conceptualising process. "I really enjoy being outdoors and working on projects that benefit the Hong Kong community," she says. "But I do have to remember to apply extra sun block on hot summer days!"

Among the standout projects she has worked on, the development of the sewerage treatment works in Sha Tin - which are surrounded by high-rise buildings - may be the most notable. Once the focus of frequent complaints from nearby residents, the facility has had no negative feedback since greening works were completed a year ago.

The project has since received high praise from several district councillors, one of whom even suggested turning the large area into a park with access for the public.

"We planted about half a million shrubs and more than 2,000 trees. We also turned more than 3,000 square metres of roof space into plant-covered green-roofs," says Au-yeung, who previously spent about five years training and working as a landscape architect in a private practice.

The sewerage treatment works project received a Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects Gold Award, as well as first prize at the 2011 Hong Kong Institute of Engineering's Civil Engineering Paper of the Year Awards.

Au-yeung notes that the project is a prime example of civil engineers and landscape architects working together. "There is a sense of achievement working with other professionals to create something that benefits the public at large," she says.

Another example Au-yeung points to is a retrofitting and greening scheme she undertook in Sai Kung, which involved covering a nullah running through the town to create a new tree-lined public space.

Greening of the Tai Hang Tung flood pumping station is also high on the list of successful projects Au-yeung has been involved with. The pumping station, a large box-like structure built near a sports facility, was transformed from a white intrusive monolith into an attractive foliage-covered structure that blends into its natural surroundings.

"People who live nearby tell us how much they like the building, which is where a lot of the job satisfaction comes from," says Au-yeung, who studied construction as an undergraduate and completed her two-year, full-time master of landscape architecture programme at the University of Hong Kong.