ABOUT

Our Founders

Our practice began in Singapore in 1967 as Design Partnership, just two years after the country’s independence following a century of British rule. Koh Seow Chuan, William SW Lim and Tay Kheng Soon set up the practice at a time when the young nation was struggling with teething problems including a dire need for major infrastructural developments. With an aspiration “to produce an architecture that uplifts the human spirit”, the studio of 15 practised consensus-based design to deliver solutions for socially relevant spaces that improved the lives of people in cities.  The Deed of Partnership embraces the founders’ shared ideals and values; these cornerstones upon which the firm was built continue to guide us to this day. 

With an aspiration “to produce an architecture that uplifts the human spirit”, DP practises consensus-based design to deliver solutions for socially relevant spaces that improved the lives of people in cities. 
 

The architectural scene in Singapore in the late 1960s and early 1970s was transformed by government invitations for private sector participation in the country’s renewal programme. It was during this period that DP completed the People’s Park Complex and the Golden Mile Complex – these two projects introduced Singapore to new modes of modernist architecture, private-public programming of unprecedented scale, and a series of innovative public spaces.

In 1975 Design Partnership was renamed DP Architects, led by partners Koh Seow Chuan, William Lim, Gan Eng Oon and Chan Sui Him; Tay Kheng Soon had left the partnership during a transition in 1974. With new leadership came expansion and growth.

By the early 1980s, the reputation of DP Architects was firmly established. The firm had gained considerable peer recognition and garnered numerous design awards, and the practice was recognised for its capacity to deliver high-quality, large-scale projects. Our works were innovative and socially meaningful, and had helped Singapore’s architecture evolve beyond the stranglehold of a colonial legacy. We had helped give rise to a new tropical regionalism.

Through the 1980s a new generation of directors became groomed for leadership. The belief that the collective strength is more important than individual talent continues to guide the firm. This new set of leaders – Francis Lee, Ti Lian Seng, Vikas Gore, Wu Tzu Chiang and Teoh Hai Pin and later Chin Thoe Chong, Angelene Chan, Lesley Lim and Dadi Surya – possessed a shared design approach aimed at enriching the lives and experiences of people; in this way, we formed a continuum in our philosophy and design methodologies from the 1960s. 


The founding partners of DP Architects. From left, Koh Seow Chuan, Gan Eng Oon, Chan Sui Him. Another founding partner, William Lim, is not in the photo.
Koh Seow Chuan, William Lim, Gan Eng Oon flanked by staff during an office celebration in the 1970s. To the far right is Design Partnership co-founder, Tay Kheng Soon.
 
Koh Seow Chuan, co-founder of Design Partnership which continued as DP Architects in 1975, retired in 2004; the founding principles and values he put in place continue to guide and define DP until today.