If there is one thing Vo Trong Nghia Architects has a knack for, it is creating streamlined, sustainable and altogether surreal structures in bamboo which stand in perfect harmony amidst their natural surroundings.
Located an hour away from Hanoi, Vietnam in the Vinh Phuc province, the Flamingo Dailai Resort is a residential retreat which finds itself situated in an “idyllic natural setting” – as the architects would like to call it. The clients had a clear vision. They envisaged a place where city dwellers could come to escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
The idea was to create a space where people could enjoy their weekends living in tranquility and strike up a communication with nature. Nestled in the thick of forests between the Dailai Lake and the surrounding mountains, the resort consists of two rather contrasting buildings, the ‘Dailai Conference Hall’ and the ‘Bamboo Wing.’
The Bamboo Wing is an extraordinary experiment in the use of bamboo, not only as a finishing material, but a structural one. The building is a homogenous expression of bamboo, “a cantilever structure that hangs in the air like a set of outstretched bird’s wings.” The 12-metre wide structure comprises a series of asymmetric Y-shaped bamboo modules which draw inspiration, in form, from the feathers of a bird’s wing.
This is evident in the rise and fall of the bamboo arches. Each bamboo module props itself on one rear leg. The modules joined together in a semicircular arrangement enable a vastly extensive column-free space to be available for use. The total area of the building is roughly 1600 square metres. Numerous stalks of bamboo have been combined methodically to design the said module. The 2-metre spacing between successive legs has been arrived at mathematically, to provide the structure with the support that it requires. “The foundation for the bamboo legs is made from reinforced concrete.”
Stainless steel cables fixed along both ends of the ‘wing’ provide an additional route for the structural load to be transferred to the ground. The bowed bamboo members which form the backbone of the project furnish the rustic interiors of the space with a relaxing and calming quality.
A series of stepping stones surrounded by water and growing bamboo lead up to the U-shaped building. The articulation of the building in this shape within the quiet pool was intentional. The structure appears as though it is lightly floating above the water and the seats of this luxury dining facility are systematically and symmetrically placed in keeping with the rhythm of the design.
The open space of the building can be used for different purposes such as wedding parties, live music concerts, fashion shows, conferences and other ceremonies. A service building positioned adjacent to the bamboo structure houses auxiliary functions – an office, a kitchen, a storage room, a wine cellar, a VIP room, toilets and a nursing room. The building hides under the cover of earth berming, blending unobtrusively within the landscape.
The feat that the architects have achieved with the design of the Bamboo Wing is not only a structural one, but an ecological one as well. Fast-growing and renewable, bamboo is easily available everywhere in Vietnam. A design such as this automatically becomes an eye-opener to architects on how local materials can be employed in effective and versatile ways.
That apart, the bamboo has been “treated not by chemicals but in a traditional way, therefore the material is truly natural.” The bamboo members have been soaked in mud and smoked out in order to make them antiseptic and mothproof. Additionally, heat treatment has been administered to the stalks to attain the ideal curvature.
Apart from the main bamboo structure, other aspects of the building have also been constructed in natural locally available materials. Walls have been built in stone procured from quarries near the site. Traditional techniques of constructing thatched grass roofs have been exercised.
With a ‘green’ agenda in mind, “the shape of the roof was designed to take the cool wind into the building through the surrounding pond.” Additionally, the deep eaves cast a far-reaching shadow on the ground. Thus, a comfortable thermal environment has been created in which the use of air-conditioning is not required and electrical loads of the building are minimised substantially.
For their excelling efforts with the Bamboo Wing, Vo Trong Nghia Architects were the recipients of the 2014 Building of the Year ARCASIA Award. The victory bears clear testimony to the fact that this half-moon-shaped building has made its mark in architecture in varying segments – innovative structural design, visionary eco-friendly design as well as an eloquent shaping of a client’s abstract vision into concrete reality.
Text By Priti Kalra
Photographs Courtesy Vo Trong Nghia Architects