Starchitect Steven Harris talks architecture today and working in Taiwan

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The multi-award winning architect joins colleagues in Taipei’s The Master Collection

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As well as sharing the honour of sitting on AD100 with fellow The Master Collection collaborators – Jim Olson, Annabelle Selldorf, Richard Meier and Calvin Tsao, Steven Harris is the recipient of multiple AIA awards as well as Interior Design magazine’s ‘Best of Year’ awards.

Known for his ability to contrast minimalistic modern elements – clean lines and clear volumes – with the natural landscape, his portfolio ranges across residential, commercial and retail projects.

Harris has designed eight of the 28 luxury villas at The Master Collection – the most of anyone. Each is integrated into the hilly terrain with horizontal or L-shaped designs.

His love of cars is also reflected in his designs with separate car and pedestrian entrances.

We caught up with Steven to ask him a few questions about The Master Collection and his thoughts on architecture today…


What appealed to you about the Master Collection?

There were several appealing factors about the project. First of all, it was an exciting proposal to be able to work in Taipei with an amazing group of architects. However, what really drew me to the project was the dramatic terrain. The steep hills and sweeping vantage points created an exciting canvas within which we could work.

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You said: “Our highest aim is for our designs to appear effortless and fully integrated into their site.” How do you feel you’ve achieved this here?

We achieved a seamless integration with the site through a careful intervention of cut and fill operations. The ground floors of our buildings are solid, rooting themselves in the hillside but also acting as a continuation of the landscape. The two floors above are then placed seamlessly on their plinth, making it appear that the site had always been there. We also have integrated green roofs and a series of interior and perimeter courtyards that blur the line of interior, exterior, site and surrounding area.

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How does this differ to your other residential projects?

All of our buildings are tailored to the place and person they serve. The challenge with this project was to create a typology that could be reworked to retain its connection to each unique site. To solve this, we have created a series of ground interventions that can be deployed to suit all of the conditions on site.

For this project we incorporated our impression of Taiwanese vernacular architecture and its’ emphasis on proportions, balance and central courtyards into our buildings.


What are the key changes you have noticed in architecture in recent years?

Architecture has evolved into a consideration about the space created as a result of the new construction as it is about the building. The resulting spaces in between require design and consideration to create a cohesive unit.

This is Part Four in a five week series where we will be publishing exclusive interviews with The Master Collection architects. Next week is we will be profiling the final architect involved in the project – Calvin Tsao (last but certainly not least). Click here for Part One, interview with Jim Olson, Part Two, interview with Annabelle Selldorf, Part Three, interview with Richard Meier. For more details of The Master Collection as well as founding partner of Phoenix Property Investors, go here.

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