There’s a new kid on Saigon’s commercial real estate block and the newcomer is turning heads. OfficeHaus, a modernist marvel opening in Saigon’s ‘green lung’ in late 2021, hopes to revolutionize the way the city works. A handsome Bauhaus-inspired 7-storey building located within Celadon City, OfficeHaus has residential zones, the country's largest Aeon Mall and Tan Son Nhat International Airport all within easy reach. Formed for function and built to be affordable, it offers a LEED-certified, human-scale alternative outside of the downtown core.
Follow Vietcetera’s ‘Only With OfficeHaus’ series where we try to envision what the new office landscape will look like.
Few architects had a more towering presence in the field than Walter Gropius, the founder of Bauhaus. Running from 1919 to 1933, his arts and crafts school became famous for combining aesthetics with everyday function thus giving rise to a movement that successfully translated a vision of minimalist contemporary design into reality.
The bold buildings that sprung up during the Bauhaus construction boom were about light and space as much as housing. From Bauhaus Building, the movement’s radical-looking glass-fronted HQ in Dessau, Germany to Tel Aviv’s 4,000 edifices making up the world’s largest collection of Bauhaus-inspired buildings, the movement has spread far and wide.
To this day, the architectural style is synonymous with understated coolness and modern practicality. And, as the occupants of Saigon’s OfficeHaus are about to experience firsthand, coupled with contactless technology this functionality-led approach is the perfect fit for the new normal of working and living.
Designed by Korn Architects, a high-end architectural practice founded in 1995 in Frankfurt by Axel Korn, OfficeHaus occupies a grassy spot in the heart of Celadon City. Axel Korn started his company following a three-year stint at Frank O. Gehry Inc., a studio behind many iconic buildings disrupting the very meaning of design within architecture. Since 2000, Korn Architects has been active in Southeast Asia where the rapid development of urban centers has expanded the market for international design services.
As a German-led office, the firm designed OfficeHaus in the tradition of the "Neues Bauen", the famous modernist style promoted by the Bauhaus. | Source: Co Nguyen for Vietcetera
We ask Axel about his inspiration for a modernist building in Saigon, what standout features the future occupants of OfficeHaus can expect and what makes OfficeHaus a byword for efficiency.
Unusually for an office building, OfficeHaus is not a high-rise. Instead, you looked for inspiration in medium-rise modernist architecture. What informed this decision?
We believe that the key quality of this project lies in its large floor-plate and good natural lighting conditions. The massing emphasizes a human scale and follows the European idea of city planning. And as a German-led office, it was only natural for us to design in the tradition of the "Neues Bauen", the famous modernist style promoted by the Bauhaus.
The proximity to Aeon Mall and location within the Celadon City development give the confidence that comes with occupying one of the most attractive spots of the new Saigon. | Source: OfficeHaus
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What challenges did you encounter designing an office building outside of the downtown core? What opportunities?
Saigon is entering a development stage of a polycentric city, much like Berlin in Germany. This means that there will be multiple trade and service clusters in various districts of the city. The proximity to Aeon Mall and our location within the Celadon City development give us the confidence that comes with occupying one of the most attractive spots of the new Saigon.
OfficeHaus is part of an integrated lifestyle township. Is the rest of the development modernist in character too or you had to find a way to reconcile different architectural styles?
Most of the recent architecture in Saigon is, in one way or another, postmodern, so you see a melange of styles everywhere you look. We designed OfficeHaus to express modernism more clearly and avoid the influence of other buildings in proximity.
Korn Architects designed OfficeHaus with the occupant in mind, offering easy access to work areas and parking, contactless door systems, good elevators and modern facilities. | Source: Co Nguyen for Vietcetera
What are some of the unique facilities and features the occupants of OfficeHaus can look forward to?
The key features are convenience and flexibility. We designed OfficeHaus with the occupant in mind, offering easy access to work areas and parking, contactless door systems, good elevators and modern facilities.
An office building needs to be able to adapt to the changing conditions of the economy and the demands of the market. With the long shape we are able to offer great demising flexibility for our tenants, so they can grow and expand with ease and even connect two floors by internal stairs. We are also very efficient in our internal organization, which will ultimately lead to easier maintenance and lower service charges.
Axel agrees that function is a key element of good design, but it’s not the only one. The modern art of De Stijl and Constructivism were used as inspiration for creating OfficeHaus’ simple yet dynamic and unusual interiors. | Source: Co Nguyen for Vietcetera
Modernist architecture is famously function-led. How is this reflected in the layout and design of the offices and communal space?
We do agree that function is a key element of good design, but it’s not the only one. The modern art of De Stijl and Constructivism is the expression of the power of industrialization and urbanity and this is the approach we chose in creating OfficeHaus’ simple yet dynamic and unusual interiors.
What is your prognosis for the future of the workspace, from the architectural point of view?
We believe that we will see more offices trying to adapt to new challenges and trends. Previously, offices were built to remain pretty much unchanged for 20 years. Moving forward, it might happen that every 3 to 5 years offices are re-structured to suit the dynamic forces shaping our work-life balance. So while we can’t guess what trends take hold, we can say with a certain degree of certainty that to be able to adapt quickly, we must bet on a flexible set-up.