In 2006, Vo Trong Nghia dropped out of his doctoral programme and came to Vietnam to start his practice as the founder of Vo Trong Nghia Architects (VTN Architects) which is now a leading architectural practice in the country with offices in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. With a varied portfolio of projects of a lot of genres like residential, institutional, office, exhibition, resort and hospitality and restaurant; they work closely with international architects, engineers and contractors.
VTN Architects incorporate green elements in their design such as lushly planted walls, hanging vines, structure-piercing trees, weathered stones, and sunken landscapes. They are highly encouraged by traditional Vietnamese building techniques and attempt to instigate its elements in the structures they build and conceptualize. Thus, one can see the efficient use of complex bamboo trusses, perforated blocks, cooling water systems, shaded terraces and thatched roofs. All of this infusion in the built by the architects are the result of the resolute vision – the creation of Green Architecture that merges nature, local vernacular, and — through modern materials and methods — contemporary design.
VTN Architects not only maintain the essence of traditional Asian architecture but also incorporate modern techniques while experimenting with light, wind and water, and by using natural and local material in ways to create green architecture for the next generation.
They strongly believe in making the structure green which comes from an intention to minimize the harmful effects of the construction projects on human well-being and the environment. They propose built that support air, water and the earth by selecting environmentally friendly building materials and construction practices.
VTN in an interview with Stirworld said that “What we try to do as architects is to wrap nature around our lives. We want to reintroduce greenery back into our cities, reconnect people and nature, and use plants as a building material to integrate vernacular wisdom into modern architecture. After all, a tree is a great shading device.”
For them, each project requires wishful thinking, thus it undergoes a whole new set of steps to reach the final straw. Meanwhile, the approach that remains similar throughout the process though it runs along diverse projects is the mindset to do something for the earth; to do a world of good for the surroundings, the air, water, humans, birds and animals making people feel connected to nature. Nowadays, they only catch sight of a concrete jungle amid a clamorous zone. So, amidst all the chaos, lies the building that can act as a refresher corner for the community making them feel accomplished in ways no other might.
About the firm office design
This 300 metres square site in Ho Chi Minh city functions as an office complex for VTN Architects. The fundamental idea behind the design remained indistinguishable from other projects they have made before, that is to return green space to the city and promote safe food production. They stepped up to tackle the situation, by making “urban Farming” a part of their office. As the complex is located in the densely populated region of the city, the project exhibits the possibility of vertical urban farming. This green approach will provide safe food and a comfortable microclimate throughout the building with minimum energy consumption, contributing to the sustainable future of the city.
The façade consists of hanging planter boxes with various local vegetation, allowing them to obtain sufficient sunlight. The façade is designed with a simple construction method which consists of a concrete structure, steel supporting and modularised planter boxes hanging there. The planter boxes placed are made replaceable, therefore providing flexibility by height and growing conditions of the plants, thereby providing sufficient sunlight. Together with the roof garden and ground, the system provides up to 190% of the green ratio to the site area, which is equivalent to 1.1 tons of harvest.
This measure was taken keeping in mind various problems caused by the lack of green such as air pollution, flood and the heat island effect. Thus, the vegetation when combined with the glazing provides filtered sunlight and purified air; also irrigates stored rainwater while evaporation cools the air.
Wind and Water Cafe is located in a rampant tropical landscape which is considered one of the best experiments by VTN Architects in their early years. Having completed its construction in 2006, this space is enclosed by artificial lakes which are also the emphasis of the landscape. The roof of the building was made by joining a combination of bamboo and steel tensile members, providing voluminous space of maximum 12-meter width without columns. Its V-shape was generated according to CFD analysis, aimed at maximizing the wind flowing into the building. wNw cafe utilizes local and traditional architectural features to create an alternative/ escape from the chaotic surrounding city.
The project uses the principles of aerodynamic design. When designing the café, computer simulations of the spaces were used to study the airflow and the cooling capacity of the water. At the first glance, the lake gives the impression of being very deep but is just knee-high. It is the black stone and the curved bottom of the lake which give the illusion of depth. The guests enjoy their coffee and feel like they are returning to nature and peaceful life.
Encompassing an area of 1460 meter square, Phu Quoc United Welcome Centre is another bamboo creation by VTN Architects. Considering Vietnamese culture as a major conviction of the project, it becomes the symbol of the entire master-plan project, attracting tourists to Grand World Phu Quoc. The building revolves around the two traditional Vietnamese symbols, the lotus and the bronze drum which are sculpted into dense layers of the bamboo grid conveying the traditional Vietnamese culture at its best.
This is yet another project which is kept energy efficient, using vernacular materials in the construction process; using ropes and bamboo pins to connect bamboo culms. Along with this, artificial air and lighting are kept minimal and to be used during night-time only. It’s a pure bamboo structure with a massive amount of bamboo, counting 42,000 bamboo culms. Vinpearl’s structural system combines Arches, Domes, and Grid systems creating a magnificent structure with a cantilever edge that requires the considerate use of cross-bracing as secondary structural elements compared to main structural elements.
VTN Architects utilised the grid system in creating natural ventilation along with the insertion of natural lighting making the building more open and transparent by allowing sunlight from the side and through the opening of the roof. The light comes in beautifully, along with the natural colour of bamboo, creating a warm and intimate atmosphere, even though the structure is very open in terms of airflow. The space is also a combination of hard and soft spaces.
VTN Architects consider themselves as a small unit of a community who try to achieve an enormous change within their professional limits, encouraging the surroundings to be more responsive towards the changes in the environment and making mankind feel closer to nature just like they did earlier.
Abdel, H. (2022) Grand World Phu Quoc Welcome Center / VTN architects, ArchDaily. ArchDaily. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/979408/grand-world-phu-quoc-welcome-center-vtn-architects (Accessed: October 27, 2022).
Belogolovsky, V. (2021) Architect Vo Trong Nghia says he loves the idea of living under a tree, STIRworld. STIRworld.com. Available at: https://www.stirworld.com/think-columns-architect-vo-trong-nghia-says-he-loves-the-idea-of-living-under-a-tree (Accessed: October 27, 2022).
King, V. (2012) WNW Cafe / VTN architects, ArchDaily. ArchDaily. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/226203/wnw-cafe-vo-trong-nghia (Accessed: October 27, 2022).
VTN architects ArchDaily. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/office/vtn-architects (Accessed: October 27, 2022).
VTN3 Kiến Trúc Tre, VTN3. Available at: https://vtnarchitects.net/kien-truc-tre-ce37.html (Accessed: October 27, 2022).