The name, "Ninu Nina" stems from the alien language spoken by Robin Williams in "Mork & Mindy" ( a popular 1970's comedy show).

Chan Soo Khian Architecture

Chan Soo Khian Architecture

It was around the age of 7 that Chan Soo Khian began to be aware of design. He had to choose a bike and he chose one on the basis of aesthetics. He then had the stickers removed and the tires changed.

Chan Soo Kian founded Singapore-based SCDA Architects in 95 and their design of Alila Villas Hadahaa in the Maldives has earned it the coveted International Architecture Award 2010 from The Chicago Athenaeum and The European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies.  Soo Khian's signature style is evident here, in the way he engages with nature. It is a philosophy that seeks to bring out the best of a locale and its essence.  The design and construction blueprints were guided by environmental impact studies prior to implementation. Chan Soo Khian was born and grew up in Penang, Malaysia. He studied architecture at Washington University and Yale.

Greatest inspirations or influences-

"Engaging the new environment, culture and people often inspire new creative directions. I draw my inspiration from reading, from art, from nature. Passionate and committed people motivate me, politics and bureaucracy do the opposite."

  • Otto Wagner, the late 19th century Austrian architect, who pioneered uses of new construction technologies and materials,
  • Mies Van der Rohe,
  • Le Corbusier
  • and Louis Kahn as his design heroes.
  • Professor Leslie Laskey, Emeritus Professor of Architecture "He taught me to be true to the materials I was working with and to design with an economy of means. Good design is a direct expression of its utilitarian nature."

After more than 10 years away during which he worked with Kohn Pederson Fox in New York, he returned to Asia, where the motivation then tended to be very regionalist, and "tropical" in style. He set up SCDA on the principle of combining the constraints of each site and climate with a strong overall concept to fulfil the needs of the client.

Favorite projects?

The Heeren Street Shophouse project in Malacca remains one of his  favourite projects. "It is small, low budget and conceptual. The project allowed me to express an idea freely about the use of a found ruin.

At the other end of the spectrum is his design for Lincoln Modern, a 30-storey residential development in the heart of the city. Contemporary architectural lines rendered in glass and metal are complemented by natural materials like polished beech timber and honed limestone making it a distinctive landmark. This project caught the attention of the Royal Institute of British Architects, who presented their Worldwide Award 2005 to SCDA. There have been only six other winners, which include Richard Rogers, Fosters & Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects and Alsop Architects.


"The artistic portion of a design is in the poetic response to a site or design brief. The challenge in today’s practice is to continue to be true to one’s design philosophy whilst adapting it to the cultural, climatic and aesthetic nuances of the place. There is a need for universality balanced by regional specificity."

Despite a hectic schedule of working on projects all over the world Soo Khian still finds time to travel, to visit new places for both leisure and work.

"Dream, read, travel, persevere and broaden horizons beyond Singapore."

Rajinder Singh Art

Gung Hay Fat Choy