DNA was established in 2000, out of a partnership of four Kuching-based architects with the aim of setting up a research- and design-based practice.
Starting initially with interior fit-outs and private homes, their projects have grown to include larger and more complex programmes, such as the recently completed 200-room Everly Hotel in Sibu, hypermarkets, several churches and a mosque. Likewise, the studio has grown from the four partners to 20 people, comprising ten architects, eight architectural technicians, two administrative staff, and numerous architectural trainees.
DNA has a continuing programme that allows young students and trainees to learn about the architectural business through apprenticeship in the studio. This initiative arises partly out of a wish to contribute to the local community, and partly from the architects’ quest to better themselves through the teaching of others.
Despite the similarity in the partners' ages and training (three of them trained in Australia in the 1980s, while the fourth came from the AA), and their shared corporate vision, there is room for diversity in their design solutions. At times, the office behaves like four separate studios, with the partners forming brief alliances with the supporting architects to work on projects. These alliances appear to reinforce the energy with which the DNA team members pursue their work. The partners’ earlier foundation in designing and building houses has instilled an investigative and exploratory approach in their later projects, often resulting in better-crafted buildings.
Common design concerns that prevail in DNA's work are: appropriate response to climate, context and culture; adept massing and crafting of spaces; and the tactile use and assembly of building materials.
Recently, there has been a conscious and constant distillation of the design solution, in order to achieve more with less.