You may have read our previous articles on Jakob Factory, the first project in Vietnam proposing completely naturally ventilated manufacturing halls, and The Bridge, where the adaptation of the “sustainable ruin” philosophy in the urban density of old Hanoi was applied.
When visiting the central city of Danang, you surely have heard of the four-bedroom family villa called Tropical Chalet which is a reflection of the simple, idyllic environment of lake-front greenery.
Going farther, Singapore’s Punggol Waterway Terraces showcases a futuristic design while also considering the influence of the past — forming a blueprint for 21st-century sustainable mass housing.
Jakob Factory, The Bridge, Tropical Chalet, and Punggol Waterway Terraces are just a few of the projects that embody the sense of sustainability, where the Earth’s biosphere and human civilization can coexist and has the capacity to endure in a relatively evolving way across the various domains of life.
What else do they have in common? All four were designed by G8A Architecture & Urban Planning, one of Vietnam’s leading sustainable architecture firms.
As G8A continues to make waves in society with its sustainability-focused architectural designs, they have actually worked on some “real” waves... with concrete. One of G8A Architecture & Urban Planning’s latest projects was “Concrete Waves,” a collaborative project with FPT.
For a moment, forget about the pandemic restrictions and imagine being in an office. It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon and you need to take a break. So you step out of your office space and get some fresh air. But you’re in Saigon — the unrelenting heat pulling you back indoors, the sun’s harsher in this part of the world.
But at FPT-Software in District 9, Ho Chi Minh City, the Concrete Waves doesn’t seem to feel the same intensity of the weather. Its sensibly positioned exterior sun shades protect the office glass from the direct rays of the sun and natural light can still get in, reducing the need for mechanical cooling.
In fact, G8A’s Concrete Waves was recently featured on Wallpaper* magazine, a publication focusing on design and architecture, fashion, travel, art, and lifestyle, on climate-specific architecture in Ho Chi Minh City.
“From above, Concrete Waves appears as a singular stack of giant white rings that encircle a lush jungle courtyard. While the breeze that accompanied the cloudburst was blocked from entering the airtight buildings in the city center, here it swept through and cooled the space. Water lashed the building, but much of it was funneled to – and absorbed by – the green oasis within,” reads the Wallpaper* article.
The precast facade manipulates the orientation of sun shading to craft the beautiful illusion — thus, the Concrete Waves — that even being in a tropical country, it won’t feel like it.
According to G8A’s project info site, this project is part of a new industrial zone for FPT in Ho Chi Minh City that will be completed in three phases. Developed from the learnings of earlier projects exploring the “yard typology” from a new perspective.
A rational floor plan and an exterior load-bearing structure — this smartly maximizes the floor layout and provides flexible interior space solutions in the building. Not only that, circulation paths exist on the margins of the floor plans, and relaxation areas can be found well shaded with double-height sky gardens at each level, giving breathing space for a building that is highly compact. At the base level, natural light and cross ventilation allow the parking area to be pleasant.
In the Wallpaper* article, they talked about how HCMC is a tropical savanna with its “abundant rain, plenty of sunshine and a persistent breeze for much of the year.”
A partner at G8A Architects, Grégoire Du Pasquier, explained Concrete Waves’ sustainable architecture is basically a bioclimatic solution.
“When it comes to building bioclimatic architecture in the tropics, porous is the word. You want to encourage natural ventilation.”
The common misconception when it comes to building something sustainable is its cost and how usually it will take billions of dollars to achieve. However, bioclimatic solutions don’t cost a lot, which creates a huge demand in Vietnam.
The bioclimatic design aims to utilize the local climate for optimum human comfort, but it can also make a building more energy-efficient. “The client is already reporting lower-than-expected electricity bills, and is keen to expand the office,” Du Pasquier told Wallpaper*.
It’s worth noting how each of Concrete Waves’ six floors holds four or five workshops enclosed by glass, but 40% of the structure, including the breakout spaces and corridors, doesn’t need air-conditioning. What a cool way to take advantage of the local climate for comfort, and also save resources by becoming more energy efficient.
“Concrete Waves was designed like a ‘cell that can reproduce; an organism that can grow, mutate and multiply,” says Dy Pasquier.
Marked by the high contrast between the monochromatic skin of the 31,000 sqm structure that is in light, medium, and dark grey, and the stunning lush vegetation, the building is iconic. Quite an addition to HCMC’s building collection.
Concrete Waves, completed in 2019, is only phase one of a three-phase plan.
According to G8A’s website, the second and third phases will include two additional jungle courtyards enveloped by interlocking, asymmetrical, similarly porous structures.
The design will fit the corridors that overlook the jungle with precast perforated sunshade elements, one of the building’s defining features, to invite the breeze, illuminate the walkways, protect from the rain and allow for unencumbered views of the biophilic nuclei.