SPARK is a Shanghai, Singapore and London based team of designers and thinkers working in the disciplines of architecture, urbanism, interiors and landscape design. Using the evocation of the studio’s name, they always try to produce stimulating, innovative, award-winning buildings and concepts that contribute positively to society. SPARK stays true to a set of core social values that steer the its design work.
SPARK has realised many high-profile quality commercial projects including the Clarke Quay Regeneration in Singapore, the Shanghai International Cruise Terminal, the Starhill Gallery Kuala Lumpur and the Raffles City projects in Ningbo and Beijing. Every year SPARK participates in design research or charitable causes for issues pertinent to society. SPARK’s charity projects include disaster shelter during the Chengdu earthquake in 2008; design curation for a green hope school in Leshan, Sichuan; and Fai Fah Prachautis, an after-class school for slum children that was shortlisted for the Aga Kahn Award in 2009. The design process of Fai Fah was collaborative, involving workshops with the children and volunteers from the local community. SPARK’s self-funded research projects Homefarm and BeachHut are the winners of the Future Experimental Category at the World Architecture Festival in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
SPARK believes that peoples’ right to a fundamental level of respectful humanity should never be placed in question. Design/architecture has profound social implications. For SPARK, design professionals must influence future environments using their experiences and sensibilities of the past – those experiences that make us who we are, the places we enjoy, the places that make us happy. SPARK believes we should resist the view of the profession as an arcane discipline that is left to the reserve of ‘the professional’. A platform is needed for the wider engagement of ideas beyond architects talking to architects, architects talking to planners, et cetera. Clarity is needed on the social and humanistic qualities that make for good socially sustainable design.
Perhaps what distinguishes the work of SPARK is the empathy for the people who use their projects. The work is not seen as an end in itself but a setting within which the users can occupy and influence the projects. Through their self-funded research projects and charity work, SPARK attempts to develop ideas that fill in the missteps of general commercial development. This is the fuel for the engine of innovation and growth within SPARK.
SPARK is a medium-size design practice run by partners Stephen Pimbley and Wenhui Lim. SPARK has studio leaders in each location that are supported by senior associates and associates. A relatively flat hierarchy encourages design discourse, helping seed project ideas and general knowledge across many different subjects.