One Small Voice: Richard Ho

Published on 16 August 2016

Architect Richard Ho elaborates on the 4Cs that guide his approach to designing award-winning buildings and spaces.


I wanted to be an architect because of the opportunities it provides in improving the lives of people, be it through a public space, a building, or a garden.


If you think about it, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, you actually pass through so many spaces and objects designed by architects — your bedroom, your bathroom, your kitchen, your bus stop, your train station, your office, your table, your chair, the hawker centre where you had lunch… it is very rare nowadays that someone can go through a day without experiencing the work of an architect.

Buildings are more than just concrete structures. In Singapore, they have become signs of our times. When the old and the new co-exist, they help us appreciate that our city was built over a period of time with sweat, toil, and an indomitable spirit.


Over the past three decades as an architect, I have refined my approach to be guided by what I call the 4Cs.


CONTEXT The location of the site and the nature of its surroundings that must inform the project that I am working on.


CULTURE This informs me how I should even think about approaching the design while considering the cultural practices of the people I’m designing for.


CLIMATE Designing for our tropical climate is very different from a temperate climate.


CLIENT Not necessarily the one paying my fees, but the people who would be using the building.


The local architecture scene has matured over the years and received recognition internationally. By local architecture, I mean work put out by our own local architects and not so much those so-called “iconic” buildings designed by foreign architects. Such buildings with their excruciating forms only serve to propagate these star architects’ egos by looking flashy on the outside, but the spaces inside are dismal and boring.

I prefer projects by local architects — Kent Vale National University of Singapore Staff Housing, PARKROYAL on Pickering, and The Oliv along Balmoral Road. These buildings epitomise a genuine search for our interpretation of Southeast Asian tropical architecture.

National University of Singapore

Park Royal Hotels

The Oliv @ Balmoral

RICHARD HO has been practising architecture for over three decades. He is an architecture professor at the National University of Singapore, as well as a council member of the Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA) and an elected member of the Board of Architects, Singapore. He was named Designer of the Year in the President’s Design Awards 2013. His firm, RichardHO Architects, has won six SIA Design Awards, four Urban Redevelopment Authority Architectural Heritage Awards, and a Gold Medal in the Architects Regional Council Asia Architecture Awards, the first Singaporean firm to be accorded this honour.

Scroll Up