With its picturesque views, a year-round breeze drifting through the valley landscape, and its prime location at the South Central Highlands of Vietnam, the young city of Da Lat is home to several charming lakes, waterfalls, and abundant tropical flora which would attract many visitors year-round.
Da Lat is named to mean “The City of Eternal Spring”, one of the reasons for this name being the fact that the city is covered with clouds almost year-round, which adds to the city’s elusive appeal. The city’s one-of-a-kind views are something one must not miss, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy them. Some in the form of unique and quirky spaces and structures, the most recent being Flowers of Clouds or The Tower Flower.
About the Tower
The Flower of Clouds unveiled only this May, designed and constructed by Vietnam-based architecture firm VHA Architects with VU Van Hai spearheading the project, is an observation tower located on the hills at an altitude of about 1,000 meters above sea level, which also functions as a coffee and fast food bar.
The tower provides a rare and unique view of the city from its roof garden space that blossoms above the city, bringing travelers and residents to the top of the clouds for a bird’s eye view of the city below.
Special Features of the Tower
The tower, aiming to reflect the feel of the hills and lakes of Da Lat, resembles a flower in its early stages of bloom with its top finished with a terrace garden. The Tower Flower’s flourishing garden overflows from the roof. Hanging over the structure’s rim and merging with the clouds, the thriving garden creates a striking colorful display against the city’s optic white moat of clouds. The curved frame of the tower mimics the blooming flowers of Da Lat with the use of rich orange corten steel modules that form the structure’s large petals.
The coffee bar on the inside is a place where visitors can enjoy prime views of the surrounding landscape as well as an interior garden that is modeled off a lotus flower, the symbol of pure beauty in Buddhism. The structure’s interior also features a ramp that winds up the height of the building, used to represent a flowing river that integrates with the interior garden.
The Flower of clouds resembles a sculpture with its height of 12m and a structure made of 27 steel modules stylized like a lotus flower. The steel modules lift the coffee space of 600m2 to an altitude of 8m and form an internal well hole. Enveloped with inverted V structures, the building is stabilized with varying steel frames. The flower tower is supported by a steel frame structure and corten steel covering the outer surface and the foundations are made in reinforced concrete.
The indoor coffee bar was first constructed in a circular shape, followed by enveloping it with the steel modules and lifting the height while maintaining the flower petal shape. The last step was incorporating the roof garden.
The tower is placed in an area with a water moat surrounding it. The combination of the water as well as the orange-red corten steel petal modules is a perfect reflection of the landscape of the picturesque city. The moat enhances the lotus-like aesthetic of the tower, making observers picture the lotus blossoming from the still pond. The tower incorporates elements of the surrounding environment while maintaining its character and standing out. It appears similar to a lighthouse to guide visitors who explore the city.
Visitors enter the building from a small hall at the entrance which is located on the ground floor. The lobby at the entrance is decorated with two rows of orange-red corten steel columns and a sky-well space. A continuous ramp between the two columns takes patrons to the first floor which houses the coffee bar and restaurant space. The final and most important location is the rooftop which has a garden of flowers along with an outdoor coffee space. Visitors are permitted to explore all these areas.
Challenges Faced by the Architects
According to the architects, the project, being the central attraction of a 250-hectare resort project complex surrounded by the natural landscape of the beautiful city of Da Lat with its abundance of rolling hills and scenic lakes and rivers, was one built after facing many challenges.
The first challenge was coming up with a unique and creative way to make the tower stand to highlight the entire resort project and to make it visible even from a distance while making it blend in naturally with its surroundings.
Aside from this, one of the main challenges was finding an engineering solution that would incur low costs to stay in line with the financial conditions affected by the ongoing pandemic.
Shawn Mcnulty-Kowal (2021). This Observation Tower Features A Coffee Bar That Hovers Above The Clouds For A Rare View Of Da Lat! [online]. (Last updated May 18 2021). Available at: https://www.yankodesign.com/2021/05/18/this-observation-tower-features-a-coffee-bar-that-hovers-above-the-clouds-for-a-rare-view-of-da-lat/#:~:text=Perched%20atop%20the%20clouds%20at,that%20overflows%20from%20the%20roof.&text=Perched%20above%20the%20clouds%20of,view%20of%20the%20city%20below. [Accessed 26 May 2021].
A’Design Award Competition (2021). Flowers of Clouds Observation Tower and Coffee by Vu Van Hai [online]. Available at: https://competition.adesignaward.com/design.php?ID=119011&utm_medium=website&utm_source=archdaily.com [Accessed 26 May 2021].