“Through my design, I’m bringing a lifestyle resort concept to New York.” Soo K. Chan, founder SCDA Architects
Soo K. Chan, is a practicing architect based in Singapore. He is the founding principal and design director of SCDA Architects Pte Ltd which he established in 1995. Soo Chan was born in 1962 in Penang, Malaysia. He obtained his Master of Architecture degree at Yale University in 1987 and is a registered architect in Singapore and the United States. He has taught part-time at the National University in Singapore and was visiting professor at Syracuse University in Fall 1998. Soo Chan has also lectured at Tamsui University, Taipei, University of Paris and Notre Dame University.
Soo Chan was the winner for the inaugural President’s Design Award, Singapore Designer of the Year 2006 and was the recipient of the SIA-Getz Architecture Prize for Emergent Architecture Asia, 2006. The practice was one of the Design Vanguard firms for 2003 selected by Architectural Record in December 2003. Soo Chan was awarded the Royal Institute of British Architects Worldwide Award for the Lincoln Modern in 2005 and was highly commended at the ar+d 2002 World Emerging Architecture Award for the House in Malacca. In 2008 and 2010, four of his entries were shortlisted for the world architectural award in Barcelona. The works of the Practice have been published extensively in international journals and books including Architectural Review, Architectural Record, Interni, Lotus, Monument, World Architecture and other International Architectural Journals. Soo Chan’s portfolio of projects includes master planning, resorts and hotels, high-rise apartments, commercial and institutional buildings, and private homes, spanning several continents including Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia and USA
THC: What inspires you and why?
Soo: The context, culture, and site of my projects inspire me. I design holistically, with the community and the landscape in mind. Space, light, and structural order are also very important to me.
THC: How did you get into your business?
Soo: I took a few undergraduate courses that inspired me to pursue architecture. I received a graduate architecture degree at Yale, then worked at Kohn Pedersen Fox. Eventually, after gaining enough experience, I returned to Singapore to start my own firm. I established SCDA Architects in 1995.
THC: What are you working on right now?
Soo: I’m working on two new residential projects in New York. Soori High Line, my debut property in the city, is my second Soori-branded property, following Alila Villas Soori in Bali. This project will include 16 pools for 27 residences. 515 Highline is distinguished by its wavy exterior and a façade that will feature art by a rotating list of contemporary artists. Through my design, I’m bringing a lifestyle resort concept to New York. I’m also working on several hotels and resorts internationally, from the Philippines to China to the Maldives.
THC: How do you see your space evolving?
Soo: I’m beginning to design and develop in North America. I’ve already worked in 30 cities around the globe, and I’ve just started working in New York. I hope this will lead to many more projects in new locations. My design language is universally modern, and I am able to adapt to the context and cultural nuances of place.
THC: Who’s your hero or icon?
Soo: One of my undergraduate professors, Leslie Laskey at Washington University, was particularly influential. He conducted the design modules in the curriculum of the Bauhaus. What stayed with me were lessons of the utilitarian nature of design achieved through an economy of means and a concern for materiality.
THC: Where’s your favourite spot around the world?
Soo: The land in Bali where I built Alila Villas Soori is both sacred and beautiful. The beach contains the softest volcanic sand, and there’s a peacefulness that envelops the property. It’s an amazing place to rejuvenate and become inspired.