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 Imu Chan’s approach to architecture and design is nothing short of enlightening. Photos Courtesy of f s o a r k
Imu Chan’s approach to architecture and design is nothing short of enlightening. Photos Courtesy of f s o a r k

Avessel is often used in ancient thought as a metaphor for spiritual cultivation — a ship transporting a passenger on a tumultuous journey to enlightenment, hallmarked by strength and stability despite the crashing waves of life. Vancouver’s beloved architect and designer Imu Chan, however, has a fresh take on the concept.

“In the bottommost of our hearts, we want the users, by being in the space, using it, spending time with their families and friends in it, growing old in it, that they can see the world a little differently from where they started off, and perhaps be in a better place physically, psychologically and emotionally,” says Chan, founder of FSOARK Architect Inc. “That is why we see our architecture as vessels. They are the vehicles for our aspirations, shelters for our healing, containers of our dreams. It is with this belief that we hope one finds a deeper meaning and a higher purpose in life, by spending time in the space we have created.” FSOARK is an ingenious team of “thinkers and activists,” using its cross-disciplinary creativity and love for humanity to build a wide range of projects, from residences to public art to product design. 

“What we aspire to create in architecture is humanistic space — space that puts human values, well-being and dignity in the forefront of consideration,” says Chan. “There are different paths to go about doing that, one of which is to bring tradition and culture into the design, adapting them to the tasks at hand.”

Chan emphasizes the importance of balancing tradition with innovation, a harmony forging a new culture of beauty, functional design, and good vibes. 

 FSOARK’s Eyepiece, the pavilion designed for the Britannia Sukkot Festival in partnership with the Jewish Museum and Archives of BC, Grandview Woodland Food Connection, and the Britannia Community Centre. Photos Courtesy of f s o a r k
FSOARK’s Eyepiece, the pavilion designed for the Britannia Sukkot Festival in partnership with the Jewish Museum and Archives of BC, Grandview Woodland Food Connection, and the Britannia Community Centre. Photos Courtesy of f s o a r k

  Chan’s multi-disciplinary creative team finds harmonious design solutions for homes to parks to products. Photos Courtesy of f s o a r k
 Chan’s multi-disciplinary creative team finds harmonious design solutions for homes to parks to products. Photos Courtesy of f s o a r k

  Circles create unity within the family, a needed quality for a healing, rejuvenating space.  Photos Courtesy of f s o a r k
 Circles create unity within the family, a needed quality for a healing, rejuvenating space.  Photos Courtesy of f s o a r k

Imu Chan’s Favourite Things:

A keen sense of nature marks Imu Chan’s work and leisure. He turns to the ocean’s call for inspiration, roaming the waters on a sailboat in lieu of hotels; delves into natural history at Vancouver’s Museum of Anthropology; or takes a walk through the woods to soothe his spirit. His artistic tastes lean to classics, old and new: from Giorgio Morandi’s easy still lifes to Myron’s dynamic Discobolus sculpture, or the simple lines of Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s mid-century Paulistano chair. He keeps his personal style no-frills and practical for his active life: a classic white shirt and iconic 511 Levi’s are complemented by sporty Converse Chucks, a leather belt, rugged Filson Original Briefcase, and a topcoat to brave blustery days. His Comme des Garcons’ “Hinoki” cologne emanates Zen-like freshness, a pleasure the architect enjoys alongside the sweetness of wild strawberries and the taste of freshly baked sourdough bread. And when embarking on travels, a sturdy Herschel duffel is a must, as is a great read like T.E. Lawrence’s captivating Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Text by R.L. Hart  Produced by Many Ngom

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