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EVOLVED ARCHITECTURAL ECLECTIC AN INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS WOO-HYUN CHO OF THEEAE BY VIKKI LEW

Chris Woo-Hyun Woo-hyun Cho, AIA has over 14 graduated from years Virginia of experience Polytechnic in Institute diverse with building a Mastertypes, of Architecture. including He has overcommercial, transport, 14 years of experience religious, cultural in diverseinstitutions, building types government, including transport, interiors, residential commercial, and master religious, planning. culturalCho institutions, graduated from government, Virginia residential interiors, Polytechnic Institute and withmaster a Master planning. of Architecture A licensedand architect is a licensed in New York, he founded architect in New York. TheeAe He founded Limited in TheeAe 2011. Limited in 2011.

As U.S. architects expand the reach of their professional services abroad, it is not uncommon to find young architects trained in the U.S. establishing practices overseas. CONNECTION talked with Chris Woo-Hyun Cho, a native Korean and New York-licensed architect, who found TheeAe in Hong Kong. Cho founded the firm in 2011 to broaden his view on "good architecture" -- a context-driven design process that begins with finding the values embedded in our surroundings that ultimately enrich our lives. His projects include Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport; the Dulles International Airport expansion; Bellagio & MGM Grand Mumbai Hotel; and various cultural, religious and government projects in Korea, China and Europe. Vikki Lew (VL): Can you tell us a little bit about your firm THEEAE? What inspired you to start your own practice? Chris Woo-Hyun Cho (CC): While it sounds nice to create a firm based on "inspiration,� my story happened due to personal circumstances. My various experiences led me in a direction I never knew existed. In 2010, before starting my own practice, I was working in an established U.S. firm as a senior architect. After moving from

New York to Hong Kong, I found myself not fitting in well with the local working culture. It was quite stressful for me to overcome the office cultural differences between what I had experienced in the United States and what was happening in Hong Kong. At the time, I felt the only choices were to establish my own firm or to relocate back to Korea or the U.S. Coincidentally, right after I registered the firm in Hong Kong, I received an email from my acquaintance in Korea, and it led me to my first project. "TheeAe" is an abbreviation of The Evolved Architectural Eclectic, which is an idea I came up with long before I started my own office. It was derived from my thesis, and I always wanted to develop this idea further. In short, it is derived from a thought that good architecture should respect places, history, and culture. Eclectic is a mixture of elements. The elements we find from the surroundings, in relation to people’s physical and emotional realms, are linked to the environment in the past and present. From this contextualized understanding, I believe a unique yet memorable space can be made. VL: What motivated you to work as a cross-country firm? Why did you choose to base your firm in Hong Kong? CC: In addition to the circumstances and timing which led me to start my own practice, Hong Kong was quite an international city, and the process of setting up a new office was relatively easy. All you had to do was apply for a visa and register your office. Many tax-related issues could be solved by hiring a local accountant at an affordable price. Furthermore, Hong Kong is centrally located in Asia. It is easy to travel to Korea and mainland China. It is also very close to Macau, which offers opportunities for hospitality projects. Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan are in close proximity to Hong Kong. Given the geographical advantage, Hong Kong is a good place to explore new markets in Asia.

ABOVE: PC CHURCH - COMMISSIONED DESIGN PROPOSAL FOR A CHURCH BUILDING IN DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA. - Courtesy of TheeAe

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THE ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN JOURNAL OF THE YOUNG ARCHITECTS FORUM

RIGHT: IN THE COMPETITION ENTRY FOR THE VARNA CITY LIBRARY, BULGARIA, THEEAE PROPOSED A BUILDING FORM IN RESPONSE TO THE RAIN AND SNOW SEASONS. - Courtesy of TheeAe

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