Chan Soo Khian of SCDA Architects
Under Chan’s leadership, SCDA Architects has become internationally renowned as a multi-disciplinary firm that provides clients a holistic experience in architecture, interiors, landscaping, and furniture and product design. SCDA has also won numerous awards including three from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) International and AIA NY Awards for Architecture, and the inaugural Royal Institute of British Architects Award for International Excellence. To date, Chan has taken on projects in 79 cities including New York where he designed Soori High Line, and where the local press has labelled him Singapore’s biggest export. He is also the winner of Prestige Titan Award 2020.
“Post-covid city planning must reflect how the way we live has changed. Architects must use an interdisciplinary approach as the traditional methods we were schooled in are not enough for building a resilient city.
The pandemic has highlighted the vast inequalities across different socio-economic classes. The low-income are more severely impacted in mobility, housing and education. in the absence of good governance, people in a neighbourhood must depend on one another for recovery. Therefore, urban designers must consider clustering more public support amenities.
For people who wish to escape isolation in their homes, city sidewalks and parks are an escape route. Sidewalks could merge with parking spaces to become shared, expansive spaces.
The community could be engaged on how public spaces could be put to use. In the meantime, a robust vaccine rollout may allow us to resume travel and social interaction at a new normal. Therefore, a repurposing of space will follow to enable these changes. However, I am not sure if all these will lead to a radical rethink of design. Who knows? Advances in vaccine development may see us returning to our old social habits, thus rendering any radical changes in architecture unnecessary.
I would like to revitalise the Orchard Road streetscape where most pedestrian activities have been diverted subterranean to connect with the MRT network. To have a successful commercial lifestyle hub, we need to bring human activity back on the streets in a sustained manner. We can achieve this by redesigning streets and sidewalks into public spaces where people can linger.
Currently, the 5-lane traffic at Orchard Road moves quickly and bisects the Orchard shopping zone into distinct halves. So I would propose broadening the Ngee Ann City sidewalk by an entire car lane. A second car lane will become curbside drop-off for passengers. All these measures will reduce Orchard Road to a three-lane thoroughfare. The enlarged sidewalk can then be zoned for food and beverage kiosks with al fresco sitting, so that people can dine late into the night even after retail has closed.
Landscape design will be consciously designed to create shade and shelter in our tropical weather. With increased human traffic, Orchard Road will become livelier. Of course, this will be done at the expense of traffic flow, which may seem counter-intuitive in Singapore where urban design is largely influenced by giving priority to vehicular traffic. However, it has been proven that cutting down on traffic in a major area improves the human experience. Traffic can be rerouted to other arterial roads. This trade-off is worthwhile for the revitalisation of the Orchard district.”
This story first appeared in the July 2021 issue of Luxe Living/Prestige Singapore.