Breaking the mould of a traditional Hong Kong education led to a well of creativity being tapped that opened the world of architecture to the son of a Mid-Levels family of businesspeople. At the age of 15, Karl Shiu attended the Waldorf School in Sussex in England, where he completed secondary education before starting an art foundation course in St Albans, Hertfordshire, just north of London. The spell at Waldorf gave Shiu the leeway to pursue his dreams. He says the Shius were the first family of Chinese to attend the progressive school system established, by Rudolf Steiner, which is aimed at integrating arts and academia while encouraging creativity. 'They teach architecture very differently from how it is normally taught. They look at the structure of the universe and how it applies to physical structure; they look at flowers and plants, why they stand upright.' After England, it was off to New York to study environmental design and architecture. After graduating in the early 1980s, he studied under Swiss architect Mario Botta at the Open Atelier of Design and Architecture in Manhattan. Botta is best known for such structures as the National Bank of Greece and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. 'I was 23 to 24 years old, living between the East and West Village. It was very artsy, a good environment for artists and designers,' Shiu recalls.