Founding principal and director, SCDA Architects
Chan Soo Khian has mastered a modern design language that remains rooted in a South-East Asian context
As a child, Penang-born Chan Soo Khian would often drop by construction sites in the Malaysian city to visit his father, who worked in the building industry. Chan also displayed an early interest in modelling kits, which would be a sign of his budding love of design and construction.
Today, Chan is known for devising architectural solutions that demonstrate an astute awareness of wider urban-design considerations and has commissioned projects in over 70 cities in five continents. Passionate about discovering new ways of organising space, he has always had a strong inclination to experiment and challenge norms. One such example of his work is the Tenda project in Bali, a fascinating modular eco-retreat driven by a non-profit initiative to generate income from demountable, self-sustaining container cabins whereby visitors pledge to buy rice for local farmers. Gaining wider recognition at Archifest 2022, the sustainably built project is also honoured for its innovations in social, cultural and environmental sectors and how it has contributed to the ongoing Plastics for Rice Program, which allows for monthly rice distribution across six villages on the island.
Additionally, Chan has picked up ongoing commissioned projects alongside leading Italian lifestyle brands to design furniture and sanitary fitting lines. Some of these products has already been distributed internationally and featured at the Salone del Mobile fair. He is also part of the renovation and expansion of the historic Singapore Art Museum that is slated to be completed by 2026.
Chan’s multi-disciplinary firm, SCDA Architects, has worked on projects in Singapore, Mumbai, Tokyo and New York, picking up several international design awards including three American Institute of Architects Design Awards, two Royal Institute of British Architects Design Awards and nine Chicago Athenaeum International Architecture Awards along the way. Founding principal Chan himself was an inaugural recipient of the Singapore President’s Design Award, as Designer of the Year in 2006.
President’s Design Award Designer of the Year
Did You Know?
Chan Soo Khian started to become aware of design in his childhood. Tasked with selecting a bicycle when he was just seven, he chose one based on its aesthetics—and later removed the stickers and had the tires changed.