Over the past two decades, contemporary Vietnamese architecture has come a long way through intellectual experimentation and creative exploration. Apart from creating interesting architectural language and captivating spaces through careful articulation of lines, planes, volumes, voids, materials, patterns, textures, and colors, it has become exemplary by paying much attention to sustainability and environmental integration within the design scope. With a number of interesting projects done by young Vietnamese architects, the country has become the forerunner in dictating how sustainable development can be achieved through sensible architecture. Below are a few examples showcasing Vietnamese wisdom.
Designed by Farming Architects, the VAC Library in Hanoi aims to create a self-sustaining ecosystem through architectural intervention, which would also act as an open library for children. The project features a large wooden framework that uses solar-powered aquaponics technique to keep vegetables, koi carp, and chickens. The technique, Aquaponics, combines aquaculture and hydroponics to feed aquatic animal’s waste to the plants. As said by the Farming Architects, VAC is the abbreviation of the Vietnamese words Vườn (Garden), Ao (Pond), Chuồng (Cage) – an integrated production system in the rural areas comprising three components: horticulture, aquaculture & animal husbandry. The modular wooden grid structure, topped by a roof with solar panels, is designed to be flexible and adaptable to a range of urban sites. The project provides a place for children to play together, read books, and learn about a system that effectively uses all the available energy from land, air, water, and solar energy resources, and also effectively recycles generating products and waste.
Diamond Island Community Center
Surrounded by high-rise condominiums, the Community center on the Diamond island has eight large and small bamboo pavilions that offer spaces for a variety of activities. Designed by the Vo Trong Nghia Architects, the multifunctional community center not only caters to the local residents but also the foreign tourists who come by boats from the city center. Inspired by the traditional bamboo baskets that Vietnamese farmers use to shelter fowls, the architects attempted to expand the use of abundantly available bamboo as a structural material through combining contemporary and traditional building techniques. The two large pavillions measuring 24m diameter and 12.5m height are constructed on site by skilled craftsmen, while the other six smaller ones measuring 11m diameter and 7m height were prefabricated as 12 units before being assembled. The large pavilions are double layered dome structures with an outer layer of thatch. The thatched layer protects the whole bamboo structure from harsh sunshine and heavy rainfall. The skylight on the top of the structure not only lits the interior spaces but also discharges hot air from the top and brings in cool air.”Despite the application of several traditional construction methods, the project’s aim is not to reproduce the vernacular, but to create sustainable architecture suited to the present,” as quoted by the architects.
Located adjacent to the waterbody at Than Chuong Tea Island, this stunning pavilion designed by Dang+Partners, Nguyen Khac Phuoc Architects offers a resting spot and stopover for local farmers. This beautiful white pavilion, made from 2000 individual wooden pieces, acts as a platform for interaction amongst the farming community.”The peace of the land” as called by the architects, the pavilion provides views of the water, gently sloping hills and acts as a link between people, architecture, and nature. Constructed over a period of three days by volunteers, the strcture gently emerges out of the green landscape leaving minimal impact on the site. The cross-shaped pieces of wood held solely by resistance makes a unique structure that is easy to assemble and dismantle.
The Golden Bridge
The curved golden bridge that appears to be held up by two stone hands is designed by TA Landscape Architecture. Constructed from fiberglass and wire mesh positioned around steel supports, the bridge is undoubtedly one of the unique examples of bridge design. Sitting at 1,400 meters above sea level, the walkway forms part of an upgraded route between two cable-car stations within the mountain-top resort. The 150-meter long, five meters wide pedestrian bridge is supported by simple steel supports with the hands acting purely as decoration. It has a timber deck with stainless steel handrails of golden in color. The entire length of the bridge is lined with flowers adding a further layer of color to the gold balustrades. The sculptural hands are decorated with cracks and moss to give them a weathered effect.
Known as the cloud house, the project involves the conversion of an apartment with small individual rooms into a large, flexible, and multifunctional space. The architects of studio CTA used movable partition walls for easy transformation of spaces according to the requirement. The interlaced wood ceiling not only acts as a binding element but also make the spaces feel organic and softer.
Constructed as a birthday present to the owner’s wife, the An’garden Cafe offers a tranquil space where great food is served surrounded by picturesque landscape. Taking inspiration from the hanging gardens of Babylon, the design studio Le House created bright and airy spaces amidst a beautifully landscaped conservatory that is home to a variety of thoughtfully selected plants. The building is arranged over several levels, with the ground floor providing the greatest amount of space for open seating. The use of cement and metal beams gives the place an industrial vibe that sets it apart from the other restaurants and cafes usually found on the streets of Hanoi. The cafe has two floors, with a mezzanine that offers more intimate seating with less filtered sunlight. Plants along the brick walls accentuate the beauty of the space. The yellow incandescent lights add just the right amount of warmth, creating a cozy atmosphere.
Chuon Chuon Kim 2 Kindergarten
Built almost entirely of exposed bricks by the architecture studio Kientruc O, the Chuon Chuon Kim2 kindergarten provides an educational environment that captivates and stimulates meaningful cross interactions amongst the children and the adult. The classrooms and utility rooms are organized around a playful core. With colorful surfaces and gardens on several levels the central circulation space acts as a vibrant counterpart to the calm atmosphere of the classrooms.
Each floor is arranged in an alternating pattern to enhance vertical interaction, encourage children to be more receptive to their surroundings, and stimulate their inner creativity,” said the architects. The patterns and openings created by the brick blocks are not just visually striking but promotes natural ventilation. Thoughtful play of light and shadow creates a dramatic effect that accentuates one’s journey through the school. As quoted by the architects, “Chuon Chuon Kim 2 Kindergarten is a place of surprises that will never cease to tickle the curious souls, children and adult alike.”
The Koi Cafe in Hanoi, designed by the Farming Architects, houses a fish pond, an indoor waterfall and a rooftop vegetable garden, transforming it into a green oasis for the cafe customers.”The aim of the construction is a café space combined with KOI aquarium, a kind of fish known as the Japanese national fish. The construction is based on a three storey house with a front yard having a total area of 88m2 (5.5m x 16m), with the requirement of designing steel structure easy to install and remove. In addition, the entire interior from the ceiling to the furniture is reused from the wood pallet material available from the owner,” said the architects.
Saigon thuong mai Hotel
Designed by the studio H2 Arch, the renovation project involves two major challenges: firstly to create an easily-recognizable interesting, secondly, to redesign the interior spaces for more effective use besides bringing in natural wind and sunlight. Following the principles of sustainability, the architects worked with the locals to understand locally available resources. The abundantly available wood gave rise the concept of using small wooden pillars. The wooden slabs were collected and made into many small wooden pillars of the same size. The small pillars were then combined with iron frames to develop a module. More water and tree elements are created inside the hotel to provide interesting views as well as refresh the microclimate. These simple solutions in terms of tree, water, bringing in natural wind and sunlight contribute to saving mechanical energy.
Stepping Park House
In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – where greenery comprises only a negligible percent of the total area, the architectural firm Vo Trong Nghia was presented with the rare opportunity of designing on a site adjacent to a public green space. Taking the advantage, the architects planned the residence to be a living extension of its surroundings.”A large void was created by cutting the volume through the three floors, in the diagonal direction of the section. On the ground floor, the void serves as living room, open to the park; on the top floor as a green covered family room. The façade surrounding the void is covered with ivy plants. Louvers provide shadow on the top floor. The void incorporates both circulation elements and natural elements like plants and trees, providing the private rooms with additional natural light. It gives a feeling of continuity of the park, to all three floors of the building. The house aims to create an environment similar to a forest, despite being indoors,” said the studio.