Samson Ngov: an international career, spanning from project management to project ownership

Samson Ngov’s career is international in its nature and architectural from experience. In the 1990s, his Chinese parents moved to Paris and established a general building company. As a child, an illustrated book about building a house enthralled him. As a teenager, regular visits to family building sites became the source of his first jobs. After specialising in Applied Arts during his final years of school, Samson Ngov was accepted to the Paris Belleville school of architecture in 1996. While he had immersed himself in French culture, meeting Asian students on an exchange program awakened something inside him; another way of practicing architecture existed and attracted him powerfully. He went to Hong Kong on an international exchange. Helped by his roots despite not being able to speak Chinese yet, he adapted himself by putting the European and Asian teaching models into perspective, bringing together their principles and another architectural vision.

10 years between two continents

Samson Ngov did not lose his professional values: ‘build to make people happy’. Since finishing his studies, he worked with Alain Derbesse in Paris on a large-scale mixed-use project in Monaco. This experience went on to inspire the next ones: organising a property complex consisting of accommodation, offices, a shopping centre and parking lots proved to be a useful skill internationally. Having decided to leave for Hong Kong, he became a project manager at David C Lee Design: ‘headlines in Asia go really fast, it’s marketing!’, then returned to Paris and joined the prestigious Japanese engineering and construction group Takenaka. Its director, Georgios Kanavakis, is a fellow graduate of Belleville, and trained Samson Ngov in developing constructive details for two years. Keen to live in Asia again, he contacted ArchiBat RH, who put him in contact with the Turkish company Era Architecture in Shanghai. He became a shopping centre project manager working between Istanbul and China for one year. He then joined the Lebanese-Belgian company AOS Studley in Shanghai. With the development of the Middle Eastern market, the company sent him to work in Dubai and Qatar, a culturally complex experience which led him back to China definitively. This was followed by an attempt to open his own firm and then a post as a luxury hotels project manager for two years at Duncan Miller Ullman, a branch of a Texan company in Shanghai. Now Walt Disney Imagineering calls on him to design and produce theme parks. With his knowledge of the local market, his technical and linguistic skills and his childhood dreams are in harmony with the group’s expectations and he has been contributing to the development of the Disney brand for three years.

Samson is currently working at Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts in Shanghai. Every day he faces the challenge of ‘making an entire machine function by mastering the use of each cog in the internal mechanism’: how do you decide on the size of a kitchen so it is adapted to how frequently it is used? How do you anticipate running costs? What local materials should you favour for construction?

By managing around thirty hotel resorts for the Singaporean company Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, he brings together, behind the scenes of luxury, his skills as a designer, builder and design manager down to the smallest details.

Profile produced by Laura Rosenbaum, DEHMONP architect, 3rd year of sociology thesis under the supervision of Guy Tapie, PAVE laboratory, ensapBx, associate of the Emile Durkheim Centre, University of Bordeaux

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