Culture and Climate Change – Architecture and Urbanism

The Return of Climate"

Architect: Vo Trong Nghia Architects, Project: Stacking Green, photographer: Hiroyuki Oki, © Hiroyuki Oki ARCH+ on current developments in architecture in Vietnam and climate-friendly buildings on the occasion of the publication of Arch+ Edition no. 227, February 2017: “Vietnam – The Return of Climate.”

Vietnam has an exciting architecture scene. Architecture magazine ARCH+ is devoting two entire issues to this theme, entitled “Vietnam - The Quiet Avant-garde,” and “Vietnam – The Return of Climate.” They present an engaged young generation of architects, exemplified by carefully selected projects emblematic of innovative and climate-friendly construction in Vietnam.

What can we learn from Vietnamese architecture? Without giving too much away: simplicity of detail, to return our focus to the architecture itself. The projects presented derive their contemporary quality on the one hand from their free approach to pre-existing traditions, and on the other from concrete practices of daily life. But international influences such as Anna Heringer, Diébédo Francis Kéré or Japanese architecture have also been drawn upon. In this way, the architects situate their designs without arguing from culture-based positions; while at the same time locating themselves within a global intellectual context without sacrificing specificity of expression, and are discussed as part of a global culture. In their search for a future-viable path, the Vietnamese avant-garde is once again turning to indigenous materials, traditional building methods and typologies to offer alternatives to the use of error-prone and expensive techniques.

The design approaches by the firms presented in the two ARCH+ editions arise in the context of involvement with current societal problems and local cultural practices. They are specific in their results without denying their universal foundational principles. The selected projects thus acquire the greater part of their expressive power from their examination of climatic conditions, embeddedness in the landscape, or the urban context. The projects of Hoàng Thúc Hào of 1+1>2 or of Võ Trọng Nghĩa are highly illustrative of this: the former has gained fame through social projects, while the latter, with his concept of Houses for Trees, has developed a radical approach to environmental problems in cities.

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