By: Tuoi Tre
Architect Vo Trong Nghia received 11 international architecture awards of various categories in 2012 with the latest one being ‘the vanguard designer’ by the US Architectural Record for his bamboo works.
He was named one of the top 21 architects of the 21st century by World Architecture News in the same year for well-known bamboo constructions including Wind and Water Cafe, Wind and Water Bar, Eco-resort Pavilion in Viet Nam and Hill Restaurant in Mexico.
Bamboo makes people think about Vietnam’s traditional culture. However, does bamboo material show images of Vietnam and Vietnamese as expected?
Bamboo is planted or naturally grown in any tropical country. It is an important material for many industries. In Vietnam, bamboo appears in the history of struggles against aggressors and in daily activities. Vietnamese use bamboo to make things like chopsticks, baskets and beds.
An artist’s impression of the Hill Restaurant in Mexico.
Why did you choose bamboo to build Wind and Water Cafe in the southern province of Binh Duong or Bamboo-Wings restaurant in the northern province of Vinh Phuc?
Bamboo is very readily available and close to the human being. It has been used for making small items and works with simple structure. I have been reckless to choose bamboo as the main material for large and complicated constructions. Things that you see now are just final results after several failures I have had.
Why have your bamboo works caused such an impression to the world of architecture?
Bamboo has, in fact, been a building material in some countries. They use metal joints to connect bamboo stalks together. However this method increases construction costs and is hard to do because it constrains the strengths of bamboo including cheapness and flexibility.
In comparison, my coworkers and I use bamboo nails and bolts as joints, which link the bamboo stalks flexibly and smoothly.
Wind and Water Cafe in the southern province of Binh Duong.
Besides bamboo architecture, are other types of architecture considered Vietnamese architecture?
Absolutely yes, if we can build works suitable with the ground and people in a certain area, it will become the character. Introduction of those works to the world means introduction of our country’s character to the world no matter what the materials are.
Vietnam is an agricultural country. Architects should show the agricultural culture in their works to teach people about agriculture. For instance, we can grow plants on buildings to broaden farming area which has been shrunk.
Bamboo-Wings restaurant in the northern province of Vinh Phuc.
Thus, your norms on green architecture do not stop at bamboo?
That’s right. Bamboo is readily available but difficult to use. At present, there are few large architectural works made from bamboo. There are two reasons for this. The first is due to habit. Investors, architects and contractors are rather hesitant to use bamboo because they have been familiar with steel, iron and concrete for larger structures.
Second is the way of thinking that bamboo must be cheaper than steel and iron.
My thinking is quite different. Bamboo is a material which has several good features like steel and iron. However, we must have an appropriate investment to exploit these strengths and ensure esthetic requirements.
I hope to understand more about bamboo to make it the main material in the so-called green architecture. If this comes true, it will promote the development of the afforesting industry to benefit both the economy and environment.
Do you have any plan for 2013?
I will continue to introduce Vietnam’s green architecture including bamboo structures to the world.
Do you think that your knowledge of bamboo will become habit or a way of thinking, which someone might want to break down someday?
t is necessity. Everything has to move and change, our habit and thinking too. My coworkers and I are not confident enough to affirm that we completely understand the bamboo. However, we are still conducting unceasing studies about this material.
Wind and Water or Bamboo-Wings are just one out of numberless forms of green architecture. I will not be surprised if people build a skyscraper from bamboo someday.