Viet Gathering 2.4

Update: this project was just named project of the year by ARCASIA (2014).

The Dai Lai Conference Center by Vo Trong Nghia Architects is part of a resort outside Hanoi, located between Dai Lai lake and the mountains.  The conference center sits alongside the entrance road to the resort.

One would expect a conference center to gather people together of shared interests to teach and learn from their peers.  Upon arriving at the Dai Lai center, one is confronted with a great arcing stone wall, the form of which inherently suggests a circle, the ultimate collective, gathering geometry, and one that reiterates the curve of the road upon which one arrives.  The stone wall, being stone, also suggests protection, shelter, separation, and connects to our shared primal history of stone walls as defensive constructions for towns and cities and provinces, such as the Great Wall up north.

The hilly landscape is manipulated to offer a dale of sorts, which becomes the entrance to the Center, as you can see below:

The surprise comes upon entering, where one finds not stone and rock, but the brick and bamboo of traditional Vietnamese villages, and the expected circle of stone turns out to be only an arc, and one only partially occupied by the center.  What one finds, then, is that one was brought together not just with other people of similar interests, but after venturing out to the back of the complex, with the much larger rolling landscape collected by the arc, of which we are only a part, and a subservient part at that.  The center acts to unite civic life with landscape, to bring together those things we think of as existing apart, the town and the landscape.

Thatched roof with brick walls and encircling stone wall

The landscape around the Conference Center, gathered by the arcing stone wall
All photos © Hiroyuki Oki


Section, with the stone wall to the left

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