Rebecca Lai Har Chiu is an urban specialist, with major focuses on housing policy and housing regime, sustainability and livability, spatial planning and urban governance in high-density Asian cities, particularly Hong Kong, prime cities in China and the One Belt One Road region.
She obtained her bachelor degree from the University of New South Wales, and the doctoral degree from the Australian National University with a dissertation looking into the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone as a driver for China’s modernization endeavour in the 1980’s. She is Professor and Head of the Department of Urban Planning and Design (2014/15 – 2019/20), Director of the Centre of Urban Studies and Urban Planning (2013 – 2021) and the One Belt One Road Urban Observatory of the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Hong Kong. She was appointed to government committees and boards related to housing, planning, land, urban renewal and environment. In recognition of her public and professional services, she was awarded honorary memberships/fellowships by urban professional institutes and honorary appointment and Medal of Honour by the Government. She was elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of U.K. in 2017.
Key Research Activities
A key research endeavor of Rebecca Chiu is to promote housing research in and on the Asia Pacific Region. She founded the Asia Pacific Network for housing Research in 2001, which has been holding biannual conferences well attended by housing academics from Asian and other countries. She (co-)edited three journal special issues and two books with a main theme on Asian housing policy within the social and economic contexts, theorizing and explaining housing policy and development in Asia.
Another key research area is sustainability, notably the application of socio-cultural sustainability concepts to construct analytical and evaluative models to assess housing policy design and outcomes. The publications attract attention beyond the housing and urban disciplines, such as cultural studies, construction, real estate, and ecological economics. Springing from this are investigations into urban livability, high-rise housing estates as sustainable residential models for rapidly urbanizing Asian cities, housing in ageing communities, and health and the built environment.
A recent research endeavor is the setting up of the One Belt One Road Urban Observatory (OBORobs) in The University of Hong Kong to investigate urban development and management in the region, which are going through rapid economic and urban development consequent to the launch of mega infrastructure projects. The research team of the Observatory has built up research connections and established research projects in South and South-East Asia, investigating various urban issues. The idea of setting up a research program on the urban issues of developing countries in OBOR is in fact grounded in her earlier work on the urban forms of China’s leading cities, the nexus among politics, planning and housing supply in Australia, the U.K. and Hong Kong; state space and urban development strategies, urban and rural governance, rural land rights in China, and urban policy and development in Bangladesh.