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Vo Trong Nghia’s Green Ambitions

Through his firm’s innovative and award-winning work, Vo Trong Nghia seeks to demonstrate Vietnamese architecture’s close connectedness to nature.

Vo Trong Nghia’s Green Ambitions


February 26th, 2013

At last year’s World Architecture Festival (WAF), Vo Trong Nghia’s eponymous Vietnamese architecture firm bagged not one but two awards – for Binh Duong School and Stacking House.

Vo Trong Nghia

Binh Duong School is sited in a forest. It includes passive shading devices and a semi-open space. The S-shaped spine creates two courtyards, one private, one public.

While in markedly different scales and serving different functions, both works revealed Trong Nghia’s sustainable approach to architecture: the integration of inexpensive, local materials with contemporary aesthetics and modern methodologies, and a strong connection to nature.

Vo Trong Nghia

In Stacking Green, a facade composed of planters function as horizontal louvers

Says Trong Nghia, “Both buildings are designed to suit the tropical climate in Vietnam. And they are built using low-tech solutions [making them] low cost green buildings that can be realised in poor developing countries. Both buildings are eco-friendly and open to the environment.”

Vo Trong Nghia

Stacking Green

This year, Trong Nghia was named ’Architect of the Year’ in Vietnam by popular vote on architectural website, adding to the growing list of regional and international awards and recognition his office has received to date.

Vo Trong Nghia

Vo Trong Nghia

In the Dailai Conference Hall, bamboo and stone, which are abundant natural resources in the area, are the main materials of choice

In describing the ecological approach to his work, Trong Nghia says, “Normally, when we make a building, we exploit natural green land or farming land. When I design a building, I always consider how much area we can return [to] the land.

“If all the people on Earth – 7 billion people – start to use energy for furious development, the Earth [would not be able to] sustain nature and human activities [any longer]. Our mission is to create buildings that consume less energy and can return green to the Earth.”

Vo Trong Nghia

Vo Trong Nghia

The Low Cost House social project is a proposal for low-income groups in the Mekong Delta area. The prototype minimises the functions of the house and uses low cost materials to bring down construction costs

Trong Nghia continues, “I always consider how I can integrate the natural elements – natural materials, environment, natural energy – into a building, and I always try to design a building [that] respects [the] surrounding environment and nature.

“In Vietnam, it is easy to utilise greenery in buildings thanks to the tropical climate. Therefore, greenery becomes a fundamental component of architecture in Vietnam.”

Vo Trong Nghia

Farming Kindergarten – a proposal for sustainable education spaces in tropical climates

The architect says his challenge now is to grow the idea of ’Farming Architecture’ – buildings that are used as “a device to plant trees and greenery, in which agriculture and architecture are integrated”.

Vo Trong Nghia

Farming Kindergarten

One example is the Farming Kindergarten project, currently under construction in Dongnai, Vietnam. The kindergarten is meant to accommodate 500 pre-school children from low-income factory working families. It features a continuous green roof, which provides food and offers the children an agriculture experience. The green roof’s triple-ring-shape, drawn with a single stroke, also creates three internal courtyards that serve as safe and comfortable playgrounds for the kids.

Vo Trong Nghia

Farming Kindergarten – aerial view

Trong Nghia concludes, “I want to tell the world that Vietnamese architecture has a strong connection with nature.” That, he says, is his ultimate goal.

Photography: Hiroyuki Oki

Vo Trong Nghia

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