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SOO K. CHAN - SCDA Architects

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Guest of this appointment is Soo K. Chan, founding principal and design director of SCDA Architects, a multi-disciplinary firm integrating architecture, interior, landscape and product design. The practice, established in Singapore in 1995, has realized projects across five continents, from master planning, resorts and hotels, high-rise luxury residences, commercial and institutional buildings, and private homes, receiving prestigious awards, three Royal Institute of British Architects International prizes (RIBA)
including for International Excellence, three American Institute of Architects (AIA) International and AIA NY Awards, the Singapore President’s Design Award, the SIA-Getz Prize for Emerging Architecture, and nine Chicago Athenaeum awards. The works presented also at the International Venice Architecture Biennale, have been extensively published in international magazines, collected in several books and monographs. Designer also for famous companies, as Poliform, Soo Chan has created the brand Soori, embracing a line of refined furniture, and identifying a new lifestyle for hospitality and residence, whose pilot project is the tropical resort Soori, in west Bali. Extremely elegant architect, grown up in Asia and educated in America, on several occasions developer of his realisations, he has interpreted Eastern culture and aesthetic with particular, modern sensitivity, introducing a new-tropicalism, able to adapt to globalism.

After a consideration about the different geographical and academic environments that have shaped his cultural growth, with experiences between Asia and US, leading to find his own architectural language, we linger on features and criteria that distinctively characterize, even evolving, his architecture, aiming to re-create in verticality a lifestyle peculiar of single houses, since Lincoln Modern, one of his first residential high-rises in Singapore, built in 1999.

Indoors and outdoors mostly merge together, through porous interventions that blur boundaries and encourage interaction between the parts: Soori Bali resort, on the edge of the ocean, in a magic corner between mountains and rice fields, expresses this aspiration of Soo Chan, translating though its formal language, reduced to the essentiality, the authentic soul of the place. One question concerns why he felt the need to play the role of developer, in addition to that of architect, interior designer and landscaper, another regards how the design emphasizes the sensorial experience, reinforcing through a hierarchical composition of ambiances the tension towards the powerful, magnificent presence of the ocean.

[email protected], a re-conceptualization for social housing, commissioned to SCDA in 2006 by the Singaporean Government, recipient of prestigious recognitions, suggests other interesting considerations. Five residential towers, ranging from 40 to 43 storeys, linked by sky landscaped bridges and featuring lush greenery, offered a sustainable and high-quality environment and an innovative multigenerational opportunity of life, setting a paradigm for later low-budget public housing. Deepening Soo Chan’s lifestyle ideal embracing natural elements, even in cold climate, we dwell on his elegant and refined recent residential condominium Soori High Line, a few blocks from the prominent New York High Line, in the art district of West Chelsea. The conversation concludes on Tenda, one of the last projects, apparently the counterpart of Soori Bali, a series of simple, sustainable accommodations.

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