Type to search

Q&ADR: Ray Cheung of Krisna Cheung Architects

Q&ADR: Ray Cheung of Krisna Cheung Architects


Every week, in our Q&ADR column, ADR interviews an architect, designer, object maker or industry person about who they are beyond the work – their life, inspiration, challenges and aspirations. This week we catch up with Ray Cheung of Krisna Cheung Architects to chat about working in partnership with his wife, Elisabet Krisna, how his high school teacher ignited his fascination with architectural drawing, and his favourite place in Melbourne.

Tell us a bit about yourselves and how you got into architecture.

I migrated from Hong Kong to Australia with my family in the early ’80s and Elisabet came as an international student from Jakarta, Indonesia to study architecture at RMIT in 1996. We now have two beautiful children, Owen and Mila. We’ve been living in a renovated Victorian terrace house in North Melbourne for 12 years.

Since I was young, I’ve always had a passion for drawing; I always got told off by my parents for drawing on the walls.

Then, when I was in year 10, I was introduced to T- and set squares by my art teacher, Ms Falconer. She taught me how to draw plans, elevations and sections. After I learnt how to draw one- and two-point perspectives, I discovered that it was so interesting to create forms and shapes by drawings lines. I began to take notice in buildings (I guess that’s how I got into architecture…).

Ray Cheung and Elisabet Krisna.

Elisabet Krisna and Ray Cheung.

You and Elisabet are now working together and have started Krisna Cheung Architects can you tell us how you met and got the practice started?

We met in 2002. We were both working at different architectural practices for a number of years. The firm I was working at, Jackson Architecture, was undertaking the Southern Cross Station project and Elisabet was with The Buchan Group. We met each other while working together on the retail component of the station. We both shared a similar vision and worked extremely well together.

We got married in 2005 and our first project together was to renovate our first home in North Melbourne. We were able to execute the project within a very low budget by using standard and off the shelf materials. We were incredibly fortunate that the  house was published in a number of architectural media outlets which provided a springboard for our practice.

Krisna Cheungs current project in West Melbourne.

Krisna Cheung’s current project in West Melbourne.

What would you say are the challenges and rewards that come with working together as a partnership, as life partners?

We both know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and that’s a great help in working as a team. I’d have to say that for us, there are more rewards than challenges.

Where do you turn for inspiration, and which architects or designers have had the biggest influence on your work?

Most of our works are inspired by simple things such as nature, light and shade. We’re interested in the work of Brazilian landscape architect Burle Marx and local artist Leonard French. The colour and composition of their works are so powerful and amazing.

What excites or frustrates you about the current state of Australian architecture?

We’re excited to see our cities gradually decentralising but at the same time, we’re frustrated with some of the poorly designed works and over developed high-rise apartment blocks.


Krisna Cheung’s current project in North Melbourne.

What do you see for the future of Australian architecture?

Australian architecture has developed to a certain style that’s become very unique and individual. More and more people, especially in the inner suburbs of major cities, are changing the way they live and work. As work gets more mobile, more clients are requesting work/office spaces within their home that will provide the flexibility they need.

The younger architects and designers are also getting more innovative and braver in terms of pushing boundaries and use of materials. It’s becoming more fluid and adaptable, and much less rigid and defined. It certainly is an exciting time!

What has been your biggest career achievement so far, or what is your favourite project you have completed?

I think getting to work on some interesting and unique projects for a small architectural practice is quite an achievement, and a couple of those projects have been awarded in the Architeam Award last year. That was the highlight of our career.

If we have to choose, our favourite project so far would be Studio Garage. Our client approached us to design a garage with a studio above at the rear of their property, a single-fronted Victorian terrace. The project provided us with an opportunity to explore a different typology of dwelling that provided so many more flexibilities within a limited space. It can be a rented as a separate dwelling with its own entry or an office or a spare bedroom/extra space for when guests visit.

Studio Garage by Krisna Cheung. This project won the 2016 ArchiTeam Commercial Award. Photo courtesy the architect.

Studio Garage by Krisna Cheung. This project won the 2016 ArchiTeam Commercial Award. Photo courtesy the architect.

What’s your favourite space/place in Australia?

There are many special places in Australia but our favourite is the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne. It consists of so many cultural diversities within one place. You can purchase fresh produce or simply enjoy the live music with a cup of delicious coffee.

What are you working on currently?

Currently, we’re working on a number of interesting projects. They vary from a small 3.2 x 3.2 metre backyard shed, a handful of alteration and addition projects in inner suburbs of Melbourne and a new two-storey retail and office development.


If you’d like to be featured in Q&ADR, simply email adrteam@niche.com.au with a little introduction of yourself.


You Might also Like

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *