by Jerry ElengicalJan 09, 2023
Brick architecture with a biophilic slant is more than just a trend in the Southeast Asian nation of Vietnam, where it is rapidly becoming a signature approach in the modus operandi of numerous architects currently active in the region. Able to effectively balance the high thermal mass necessary for cooling in the country's hot tropical climate, while affording ample daylight into building interiors, the present-day usage of this time-honoured yet modest material often utilises concepts learned from the past and remoulds them for the current architectural sphere. For instance, the perforated brick screen is a building tradition that has cropped up throughout South Asia under various names throughout the ages, and more recently, it has found a fresh lease of life in the Wyndham Clubhouse—a hospitality design project by Vietnamese architecture practice MIA Design Studio.
Located in a coastal resort on the island of Phú Quốc, the building was commissioned as part of an enormous hotel complex of private villas draped with plants, already steeped in the precedents of biophilic architecture. From the very start, the intention was to infuse the building’s larger context with a spirit that would be both traditional and modern. Driven by the imagery generated by this guiding parameter, the architects settled on the idea of a ‘lantern,’ as the basis for their intervention. As the firm reveals in a statement, “The lantern infuses the experience with a soft, gentle feeling of illumination at night, functioning as a highlight at the entrance to the resort. The main material we selected was bare brick, in order to exude the beauty, meticulousness, and precision of local masonry construction.”
As the first point of contact for most guests, the clubhouse’s role in the larger hospitality architectural development would entail engaging with them to provide a taste of the experience beyond. The building’s simple cuboidal form, dressed in the earthy red tones and rhythmic textures of the multiple brick assemblies employed in its construction, immediately captures one’s attention on approach. Dominating the visual composition when pitted against the smaller, more intimate villas that surround it on three sides, the volume of the clubhouse radiates a sense of mass, rooted in the earth.
Voids for the entrance, paired with minute perforations in the brick assemblies are the only real breaks in the monomateriality of the façade design, where large, bare surfaces of exposed brick stretch on for the entire width and height along each face of the structure. There is an observable gradient in the orientation of the bricks, where the lattice structures at the bottom are laid out using headers, with a growing emphasis on a curved pool of water arcs along one side of the structure, hosting smaller platforms which radiate from the entryways of the building.
Walkways connect the platforms to the road beyond it while landscape design features provide a taste of the green haven to come. The entire composition exudes a supreme naturalistic beauty: the weightiness of the brick hovering above the reflective surface of the water, with greens as a subtle garnish. A latticed canopy swoops over the main entrance, beyond which the brick enclosure softens the influx of sunlight and facilitates natural ventilation throughout the interior.
Programmatically, the ground floor of the structure features another rectangular pool to its rear which provides a buffer between the public spaces inside its envelope and the villas that make up the development further beyond. The main lobby is focused on a rectangular pond, at the heart of an atrium-like space. Bordered by the indoor restaurant and bar counter on two of its sides, this feature of the interior design is a spectacle all on its own.
Thick blankets of vegetation drop down from the sides of the void above the pool, forming green curtains that liven up the space. This quasi-courtyard, "is a crucial element that once again affirms the immutable values of traditional architecture passed down to this day," mention the architects. In parallel, the use of biophilic design in tandem with a water feature is also crucial in cooling the full-height volume, facilitating convection through stack ventilation, enhanced by the presence of these two elements. The open plan form of the ground floor with its lounges, dining areas, and free-flowing spatial order surrounds a functional core, occupied by restrooms, stairwells, a lift lobby, and a kitchen for the restaurant.
Seating spaces in the restaurant are configured to align with voids in the external envelope overlooking the water features both inside and outside the clubhouse. Bamboo architecture, wood, brick, and stone compose the environment here, both in terms of the finishes on bounding surfaces, along with the furniture designs that adorn its volume. Wooden furniture is, in fact, ubiquitous throughout the ground floor, accentuating the level’s calming atmosphere with smartly chiselled profiles.
Underneath, the basement floor accommodates storage spaces, technical areas, auxiliary kitchens, and canteens. The second floor is more private in its hierarchy within the zoning, devoted primarily to office spaces that serve the resort and its operations. Although the atrium volume has been left open, allowing users to peer into the lobby and all its verdant glory, the intrusion of partition walls separating program areas grows more apparent at every turn. Whereas the openness of the first floor below highlighted its semi-public ambience, the sense of segregation encountered on the floor above it is the obvious visual marker of the change in zoning.
Finally, the building's top floor is again, replete with biophilic flourishes, carpeting the roof in an explosion of green. Besides absorbing a considerable amount of sunlight incident on this upper bounding surface, the inclusion of this design feature also elevates the terrace bar that runs along one edge of the roof, looking into the void above the lobby pool. All in all, the design team has crafted an enticingly unique nightlife experience to crown their design.
On the rise in many domains of contemporary architecture, biophilia paired with natural materials is generally an effective combination in warm climates, with Southeast Asia becoming a hotbed for its exploration. With the Wyndham Clubhouse, MIA Design Studio has presented a compelling case for its use in resorts throughout the region, employing contextual design solutions with a modern twist.
Name: Wyndham Clubhouse
Location: Bai Truong, Dương Tơ, Phú Quốc, Kiên Giang, Vietnam
Site Area: 3355 sqm
Construction Area: 2200 sqm
Gross Floor Area: 4495 sqm
Year of Completion: 2022
Investor: Nam Group
Architect: MIA Design Studio
Principal Architect: Nguyen Hoang Manh
Concept Design: Truong Nguyen Quoc Trung
Technical Design: Bui Hoang Bao, Nguyen Thi Hao
Construction Contractor: Megabuild
Furniture Contractor: Thanh Thang Thang Long
- Biophilic Architecture
- Biophilic Design
- Contemporary Architecture
- Contextual Design
- Courtyard Architecture
- Facade Design
- Hospitality Architecture
- Hospitality Design
- Interior Design
- Landscape Architecture
- Landscape Design
- Staircase Design
- Traditional Architecture
- Tropical Modernism
- Vernacular Architecture