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A perfectionist whose passion inspires everyone

Credit: Sasha Belavokaya

RISING STARS 2016 COHORT

Director, Spheron Architects

Part 2 completed 2006

Tszwai So was nominated by Samuel Bentil-Mensah, his business partner at Spheron Architects, the practice So founded when he was just 29.

As well as the typical young practice fodder of small extensions, So has developed a fascination with Belarusian timber architecture. After he was commissioned 
to design the Belarusian Memorial Chapel in north London, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, So spent a year researching the vernacular timber churches of Belarus. Convinced of timber’s importance as a building material in the country’s culture, he proposed a wooden form for the London site. 

  • Belarusian Memorial Chapel.
    Belarusian Memorial Chapel. Credit: Joakim Boren
  • Belarusian Memorial Chapel.
    Belarusian Memorial Chapel. Credit: Joakim Boren
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So used his research and an emotional appeal to convince locals and his clients. We have highlighted the project’s promise in the RIBA Journal and judge Lucy Tilley of Adjaye Associates was impressed with the detailing and craftsmanship in construction shots. For this year’s London Festival of Architecture So created an installation to draw attention to the moving experiences of Chernobyl.

His colleague is candid about So’s way of working but delights in its effects. ‘He is a perfectionist... Although at times frustrating, his passion has inspired all his colleagues, collaborators and clients.’

  • Remembering Chernobyl exhibition.
    Remembering Chernobyl exhibition. Credit: Joakim Boren
  • Urban Hermitage.
    Urban Hermitage. Credit: Hélène Binet
  • Remembering Chernobyl exhibition.
    Remembering Chernobyl exhibition. Credit: Joakim Boren
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What would you most like to improve about the industry?

I believe in architecture that communicates feelings, triggers memories and evokes emotion. This is compatible with financial prudence and sustainability in a free market economy. It should not only be for affluent clients or high profile projects, but the most ordinary projects with limited resources.

Who would you most like to work with?

Peabody and all housing associations; humanitarian architect Diébédo Francis Kéré. 

 

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