The Biophilic Workplace, Vietnam
What constitutes wellness in a workplace? Is it having comfortable, safe physical
spaces (not too cold or hot; not too dim or glaring; not too dusty or noisy) to
do one’s job in? Or is it having easy access to natural greenery, light, wind and
water; proximity to nature? In today’s workplace, it could well mean all these and
more—encompassing emotional, psychological and physical well-being. Here, we
showcase two office projects by VTN Architects that seek to achieve workplace
wellness in different contexts, using different forms but similar strategies.
Nanoco Head Office
Located in a newly developing area in Ho Chi Minh City, this head office and
showroom for an electrical corporation has a familiar form, recognisable by now
as a VTN Architects’ design. Stacked blocks interspersed with greenery. This
came about as a response to the wider urban context—the city centre has only
a green coverage ratio of 0.25 per cent, significantly lower in comparison to
other Asian megacities. The Nanoco Head Office aims to offer a better working
environment, one that attempts to alleviate the well-being of the workers by
accommodating as much greenery as possible in the building.
Glass boxes, alternately stacked to create terraces in between to accommodate
trees, make up the building’s form. This façade functions as a filter that optimises
climatic and visual conditions, diffusing intense direct sunlight in the daytime to
allow for a well-lit interior setting. At night, it turns into a ‘beacon’, illuminating
the neighbourhood. The glass blocks reduce thermal transmission due to their
low solar heat gain coefficient, contributing to low energy consumption compared
to typical glazed façades. Taking into account the high-density surroundings in
the near future, the glass blocks are intended to blur the line between inside and
outside, offering views to visually connect with the external environment, while the
trees provide a soothing ambience throughout the building.
Viettel Offsite Studio
Like a giant book standing with its pages opened, the Viettel Offsite Studio is
a bold-looking concrete complex of studios that offers the company’s top brass a
space to get together (for meeting, events, activities and meditation), away from
the city and surrounded by nature.
Located approximately 30 kilometres on the outskirts of Hanoi, beside a lake
and abundant trees, the building comprises six units: a reception area and library;
a restaurant and café; as well as four studios. The studios also serve as an
off-site short-term workplace for the corporate leaders. There are six V-shaped
wall-blocks that are freely arranged following the lay of the land, connected by an
open corridor. These blocks form triangular surface spaces; two sides are closed
while the other sides open towards the lake and trees. The open-book form
allows for easy views from the inside to outside, and a sense that one is outdoors,
embraced by the natural elements.