EMOTIVE SPACE

Written by root. Posted in IN PERSON

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Published on March 10, 2017 with No Comments

From Bali to New York, architect Soo K. Chan comes full circle and returns to the city that kickstarted his career to design a bespoke New York residence.

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Please relate your journey to becoming an architect and the milestones/challenges of your career.
From the time I was old enough to play with Lego I wanted to be an architect. After finishing school, I travelled to the US and studied architecture at Washington University and obtained my Master of Architecture from Yale University. I began my architectural career in New York City before returning to Singapore, where I founded SCDA Architects in 1995 with only five members of staff. Over the years the practice has grown steadily, now employing more than 100 staff.

A major milestone, both professionally and personally, was designing and building my own resort, Soori Bali. I’ve designed hotels and resorts around the world and yet with Soori Bali I’ve been deeply involved in all of the decisions, from conception to operation, and the result is the most honest of my creations as you have to be honest because you don’t have a client to blame.

Another profound achievement has been developing and building Soori High Line, a luxury residential building. With this development, I strived to create the most bespoke residence in NYC by marrying crafted luxury with resort-style living. Located on West 29th Street, adjacent to the famed High Line park. Soori High Line has 31 one-to five-bedroom apartments, with custom finishes, high ceilings and indoor saltwater pools. They also include my line of Soori Living furniture for Poliform.

What are the dynamics and philosophies that drive your artistic vision and aesthetics?
I strive to design well-detailed spaces. The design language of SCDA Architects refers to fundamental elements such as light, space, structural order, transparency and materiality, all in the service of tranquility and beauty.

Please explain some of your inspirations.
I am inspired by holistic approaches. With my projects, I’m not just at the controls of architecture. For Soori Bali, for example, I also did the landscaping, interiors and the furniture, down to the staff uniforms and the cutlery. With all projects I like to oversee the architecture, interiors and landscaping and, where possible, the cabinetry and furniture. Mies van der Rohe has inspired me throughout my career. His Barcelona Pavilion has taught me so much for its structural order, free flowing plans, precision in its details and the expression of materiality, it is a rational approach to design. I also appreciate Louis Kahn’s work for its use of light, space and structural order. His works express the integrity of the natural materials featured.

New York and Bali are polar opposites. What drew you to create a lifestyle condo in NY and what are the differentiating qualities of this project?
Soori High Line is the synthesis of 25 years of architectural practice. When I graduated from Yale, I started my architectural career in New York so Soori High Line has seen me come full circle; it’s the first building I have designed and built in the dynamic city where my career began. For Soori High Line, I was inspired by what makes a remarkable house. A fireplace, pool, terrace, high ceilings, good natural light – all of the factors you associate with a great house – we have compressed into a dynamic apartment in the city. As highlighted earlier, I strived to create the most bespoke residence in NYC by marrying crafted luxury with resort-style living. The residences’ private indoor saltwater pools are definitely one of Soori High Line’s differentiating qualities.

How will your project affect the New York skyline and what do you look forward to with this project?
Soori High Line’s facade is distinctive and adds to New York City’s iconic skyline. On the facade, even though the building is all glass, we have a series of vertical fins, each about 20 feet tall. Those fins cut across the whole facade of each apartment’s living room. Inside, you get all of the natural light and yet you still feel enclosed, protected. So what you see on the outside is what you see on the inside. Most of the time architects want to do the big poetic space but when you are planning something like Soori High Line, where people are going to live, it’s very important to get down to the details. In that way I consider myself a humanist in design and the goal is to evoke emotions. You are creating a lifestyle for someone and that is such a privilege.

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