Vietnam’s honored architect wins world’s best house, school

Binh Duong School designed by Vo Trong Nghia wins best school at World Architecture Festival 2012 in Singapore

Binh Duong School designed by Vo Trong Nghia wins best school at World Architecture Festival 2012 in Singapore

A Vietnamese architect who has been honored worldwide for his green designs won two first prizes at another world architecture fair in Singapore.

The World Architecture Festival, which ended Friday, named Vo Trong Nghia, 36, as the designer of the best house and best school at the festival.

More than 300 entries in 33 categories entered the short list, which also included several items from A21 Studio, an architecture company from Ho Chi Minh City.

The “regionalism” and “humanity” of Binh Duong School in Binh Duong Province, which neighbors Ho Chi Minh City, beat 9 other entries from the US, UK, Australia, Japan, Spain and Taiwan in the Schools category.

His Stacking Green house and its vertical garden beat 15 competitors from Singapore, Australia and other countries in the House category.

The 5,300 square meter school is designed to support 800 students. It was praised by judges in the way it responded to the tropical climate. The judges called it “a series of humanely scaled spaces and places.”

It has caged balconies to provide open-air corridors along the sides of the building and protect students from both harsh sunlight and tropical rain. The entire school is contained within a single five-storey building to keep students and teachers dry during the monsoon season.

“Though built for a very modest budget, it has an architectural presence and lyricism in the way that light and air penetrate the interior,” judges said in a festival news report.

Stacking Green in District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, is a three-bedroom tube house constructed on a 4m x 20m plot. The front and back façades are composed of layers of concrete planters equipped with automatic irrigation pipes.

Stacking Green house by Vo Trong Nghia won best house at World Architecture Festival 2012 in Singapore

Stacking Green house by Vo Trong Nghia won best house at World Architecture Festival 2012 in Singapore

Judges said the house “is a simple yet elegant solution to a common problem in developing cities… It deals elegantly with issues of security, privacy, climate and light in a poetic yet economical way.”

The house earlier won Nghia the 2012 Green Good Design Award granted by the US-based Chicago Athenaeum museum and the European Center for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

Nghia, who first became known for his environmentally-friendly bamboo structures, said this was the first time any of his concrete designs had won awards.

The native of central Vietnam’s Quang Binh province has won various awards and recognitions for his bamboo-centered designs over the years.

In May this year, the World Architecture News named his company, Vo Trong Nghia Architects, one of the top 21 architectural firms of the 21st century, praising his “intelligent use of natural materials.” His company has drawn architects from Spain, France and Belgium.

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His long list of accolades include recognition from the International Architecture Awards in 2008 and 2009. Last year, he won four international awards, including a Green Good Design award for his design of the Vietnamese booth at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, an International Architecture Award, a FuturArc Green Leadership Award, and a gold medal from the Architects Regional Council Asia.

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