For Ar. David Chan, principal and founder of Design Collective Architects and EDI Architects, architecture offers the opportunity to explore and experiment different ways to create spaces that facilitate a higher quality of life and better human interaction. In this Q&A, we find out more about him and what he thinks will help to improve the architectural scene in Malaysia.
Can you share with us how you come about building a career in architecture?
My career in architecture started after I stumbled upon small projects and after a stint as a lecturer in a local design institution. From there, I realized that there is more control over project in idea implementation and concept realization; the small work allows the realization of ideas with less compromise.
What’s your source of inspiration?
Places that connect people together and places that allow elements of events to take place for people to interact and connect inspire my work.
What are some of your most memorable projects and why?
“Ambi House” and “J House”. Ambi House was our very first project that we tried to create a new typology for a community house bringing together 9 adults and 2 teenagers living in a communal way. The J house on the other hand revolved around redefining an intermediate link into a ‘one room – bungalow’.
What is your design philosophy and approach?
My design philosophy is to create bespoke architecture, ie. tailored to the wants and needs of end users/clients. We also explore ideas on the ‘what if’ as a way to push end users’ perceived needs. The approach we use is a procedure of methods focused on meeting end users’ needs as close as possible. For example, intimate customization. The process begins with accumulating a synthesis of site, programme and people through a comprehensive Q&A sheets filled in by the client.
What are some of the projects in the pipeline?
We have been building a particular 130k sq.ft house for the last 14 years which is surrounded by 1000 thousand trees.
In your opinion, how can architecture in Malaysia be improved further?
Currently there are many projects that architects are not commissioned to do. For instance, bus depots, shelters, factories and temporary buildings which are taken up by engineers who generally utilize a more pragmatic approach to them, thus delivering most of which are similar. Architects who are better trained as designers should take up more projects that are deemed unworthy. Temporary buildings are a good example.
To improve Malaysian architecture, I believe we should create more diversity of projects for Malaysian architects to experiment ideas with rather than the tested typology that are commissioned by developers. Diversity of projects improves the built environment and people interaction. We should think diversity in terms of approach and the different types of projects.
Design Collective Architects
EDI Architects Sdn Bhd