Soo Khian has impressed the Jury with a wide repertoire of projects in Singapore and abroad. His design is driven by an interest in new ways of organizing space, resulting in the creation of distinctive forms. His work displays originality and skilful control over proportion, massing and the use of colour. The high level of ambition evident in his work is also complemented by his drive to experiment and constantly challenge accepted norms, yet within the framework of a consistent architectural language. Soo Khian’s work challenges us to remain modern yet rooted in the Southeast Asian context. His design solutions have demonstrated an awareness of wider urban design considerations. He is an excellent role model.
MR EDWARD LAU
ARCHITECT, SCDA ARCHITECTS PTE LTD
I am an architect who has been in private practice since graduation from an American university. The first 5 years of my professional practice were in Houston, following which I returned to Singapore, lured by the construction boom that was taking place in the region in the early 1990s. It was during this boom time that opportunities became available for small design firms to experiment and test out new architectural directions, language, details, etc. From a myriad of architectural direction and styles, there emerged one that, in my opinion, matched the aspirations of the new crop of younger, well-travelled, overseas-educated professionals and businessmen who were establishing their new homes. This was an architectural direction that is an adaptation of modern planar glass and steel architecture to the tropical climate - albeit still grounded in classical proportions - a meeting of the east and west of sorts.
Through the years, amongst the few architects known for this direction of work, Chan's was the most consistent and the most easily identifiable - from project to project. His projects were sought after for publication in design magazines and journals as they were well received not only amongst the public but also within the profession. This led to numerous design awards, recognition and publications, first locally, regionally and now internationally.
Locally, he has won 5 URA Architectural Heritage Awards, 1 Gold and 3 Honourable Mentions in SIA Architectural Design Awards and the Young Designer Award - Singapore 1991. Regionally, he claimed the Gold Award - ARCASIA Awards for Architecture 2005 - 2006, Bienal Miami Beach 2005 International Competition and the National Integrated Award, China for Lakeside Ville - a 350-unit villa development. Internationally, Architecture Record recognized him in 2003 as a Design Vanguard Firm and by Architectural Review - Merit Award for Emerging Architecture in 2002.
In 2005, he won his most prestigious award to date - the 2005 RIBA Worldwide Award for his Lincoln Modern project. The distinguished RIBA jury commented, "The jury was impressed that the architect could adopt such a degree of modernist rationality and not stray into pastiche. The overall structure, a layered and skilfully articulated sandwich of standard components, strikingly slender and vertical, is a fresh and authentic design".
This award places Singapore on the global architectural design map amongst past winners of which there were six including internationally renowned firms such as Richard Rogers, Fosters & Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects and Alsop Architects.
All these awards and recognition attest to the contribution that Chan Soo Khian has made to the field of design and the profession both locally and regionally. It is in light of the above that I think Chan Soo Khian deserves to be considered for the award of Singapore Designer of the Year.
MR ROBERT POWELL
BA Dipl Arch M Arch (RIBA MRTP) ARCHITECT
I have tracked Chan Soo Khian's progress since 1992 when he relocated to Singapore after completing his studies and architectural internship in the USA. At that time, I was Associate Professor of Architecture at the National University of Singapore. In 2004 I authored the first monograph of his work entitled "SCDA Architects: The Architecture of Soo Chan".
Chan set up a design studio in 1995 and two years later, he established SCDA Architects. He first came to my attention for the thoughtful restoration and internal transformation of a number of traditional shophouses. He made a vital contribution to conservation practice in Singapore introducing elements of a modern architectural vocabulary in order to radically rework the shophouse typology. Simultaneously he designed a number of detached residences that explore a modern language rooted in the Southeast Asian context. The resultant dwellings have been hugely influential. Chan is involved in a continuous exploration of the 'Choreography of Space' and his work displays an assured manipulation of Light, Space, Structure, Transparency and Texture. Almost imperceptibly, Chan moved up a gear and by the early years of the 21st century, has produced a number of stunning high-rise towers. His work displays originality and constantly challenges accepted norms.
Chan is the recipient of many international awards. In 2002, the Architecture Review (UK) Merit Award for Emerging Architecture confirmed his growing international reputation; a judgment endorsed by the selection of SCDA by Architectural Record (USA) as one of their Year 2003 Design Vanguard firms. In 2005, Chan received the Royal Institute of British Architects' Worldwide Award for the design of the Lincoln Modern and in 2006, he was presented with the Chicago Athenaeum International Award. An indication of the regard in which he is held is evidenced by the invitation extended by the French Society of Architects in Paris to address them in May 2006.
Chan has made a remarkable impact on the profession, initially in the context of Southeast Asia but more recently on the world stage. From the Singapore base, the practice is now building in India, China, Morocco, the Maldives, France and USA. In the process, Chan has made the difficult transition from the comfort zone of local practice to the international stage and is on the way to becoming an internationally acclaimed practitioner.
PROF PHILIP ROAD
UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE
Chan Soo Khian is a worthy contender for the 2006 President's Design Award. He is one of the new breed of Singapore architects – cosmopolitan, globally aware, overseaseducated, an elegant formalist, and with a practice base across the Southeast Asian region.
He is ambitious not just for his own architecture but also for discourse within the region. His choice of the term "Neo-Tropicality", for example, for the 2001 Tropical Workshop Series at the National University of Singapore, raised heckles amongst an older generation of architects who felt that such a term smacked of style rather than research into the idea of what a socially responsible tropical architecture might mean; but Malaysian-born Chan shrugs off such comments, arguing that "Neo-Tropicality" translates as a "new" tropicality. He continues to make provocative statements and demonstrates his virtuoso
design skills through active, commercially savvy practice.
Substantial one-off houses, apartment buildings and condominiums form the focus of SCDA, the practice he founded in 1995. And Chan can point to success through global peer recognition: the US journal Architectural record nominated him as one of 2003's "Design Vanguards" and he received the British journal Architectural Review’s "ar+d" 2002 highly commended award for an emerging young architect; rare achievements for an architect from the region.
Chan's talent has been to develop a distinctive interpretation of Modernism, emphasizing horizontality through dramatic oversailing eaves, exaggerated stone coursing, and hovering prismatic form, in a series of built works that range from houses such as Andrew Road House (2002) and Dalvey Estate House (2004), to most recently the interlocking apartments of Lincoln Modern (2003). Taken together, the qualities of SCDA's work – the material inclusions that denote wealth and luxury, the sachlich experiments in apartment type, and the poetic juxtaposition of the ultra-designed and the as-found – signal diverse new directions available to a concept of "Neo-Tropicality".