Rebel Architecture

Vo Trong Nghia: 'Living close to nature'

The architect wants to restore tropical beauty to Vietnam's fast-growing cities and provide housing for the poor.

Last updated: 12 Aug 2014 14:15
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Vo Trong Nghia is an award-winning Vietnamese architect who is on a mission to transform Vietnam's attitudes towards architecture and urban spaces through his sustainable and 'green' designs.

Known as a bamboo building master, Nghia has a penchant for intricate and environmentally-friendly buildings into which he integrates contemporary design with inexpensive, local materials and traditional skills.

Green architecture helps people live harmoniously with nature .... If the current way of thinking does not change, sooner or later citizens will actually live in concrete jungles.

Vo Trong Nghia

His aim is to create affordable green architecture for the 21st century, whilst maintaining the essence of Asian architectural expression.

In the context of Vietnam's rapid population growth and disappearing green spaces, Nghia is defending the need for open spaces, trying to bring much-needed greenery to the concrete, glass and steel that dominate the cityscapes.

His buildings incorporate plants and trees, and include design elements such as natural air flow ventilation in the place of costly and environmentally damaging air conditioning.

He believes that "for a modern architect, the most important mission is to bring back green spaces to the earth."

Nghia studied architecture at the University of Tokyo before returning to Vietnam to establish Vo Trong Nghia Architects in 2006. He has received numerous international prizes and honours, including the World Architecture Festival Award, the ARCASIA Award, the WAN 21 for 21 Award and the FuturArc Green Leadership Award.

In 2012, Nghia was selected as the architect of the year in Vietnam; and in 2014, he has taken top honours for the Building of the Year Award from the Architects Regional Council Asia (ARCASIA) and the Architectural Review House Award for his project 'House for Trees'.

"From the beginning I always wanted to follow green architecture, but the founding of my company was very difficult because my designs were so different to what people were familiar with ... For a modern architect, the most important mission is to bring back green spaces to the earth."

For more on Vo Trong Nhgia and his work:


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About the series

Rebel Architecture is a six-part documentary series profiling architects who are using design as a form of activism and resistance to tackle the world's urban, environmental and social crises.

The series follows architects from Vietnam, Nigeria, Spain, Pakistan, Israel/Occupied West Bank and Brazil who believe architecture can do more than iconic towers and luxury flats - turning away from elite "starchitecture" to design for the majority.

The creator's view

Series creator Daniel Davies on how rebel architecture and design can help create a better world.

Meet the architects
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