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The no-wall spa: Naman Spa by MIA Design Studio in Vietnam

AR_EA 2015 Commended

Vietnam has experienced a building boom and Western firms now see it as an emerging place to bid for work. But the boom is also leading to more work for Vietnam’s home-grown talent.

A boost in tourism across the country has seen hotels, spas and restaurants shoot up, providing a lift for local architects well-versed in the country’s climate and vernacular materials.      

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Hiroyuki Oki

‘The practice has created a tranquil space which makes visitors feel as if they are at an oasis’

This scheme is a direct result of this growing tourist trade. Award-winning Vietnamese firm Vo Trong Nghia Architects has already completed three bamboo-roofed buildings and another plant-covered hotel at the Naman Spa resort in the northern city of Danang. Next up, it was the turn of MIA Design Studio. Working with the 3.5ha site’s array of architectural icons, the Ho Chi Minh City-based practice had to find its own identity for this key building.

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Plan of Naman Spa

The practice has created a tranquil space which makes visitors feel as if they are at an oasis. The building’s 21 treatment rooms, gym, and meditation and yoga studios are nestled between lush open-air gardens. The ground floor is centred around a large atrium with a pool encircled by hanging gardens. Here, planting trails down from the upper floor creating a green screen around the pool.

The building envelope was designed for its tropical climate. The coastal city experiences hot summers and high humidity, but the facade design means, despite this, that it can still be naturally ventilated. White, sculptural fins create a textured facade that shades the glazing behind while allowing cross-ventilation.

‘Described as a ‘no-wall spa’, the spaces transition into each other seamlessly’

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Section through spa

These screens of louvres are complemented by areas of intense vegetation. Many types of native tropical plants have been used including Heliotropium, Indian Pluchea and Plumeria. The facade creates privacy within the resort’s dense masterplan.

Described as a ‘no-wall spa’, the spaces transition into each other seamlessly. Hanging plants create the impression of walls without the confined feel. Visitors are connected to nature and feel a sense of serenity within the sheltered space. Plants have been used on the facades of many buildings, often with little effect or worse, negative environmental impact. But here, they form an integrated part of the scheme. They soften its hard edges and bring nature into the spa experience creating a place of relaxation. They also change the light within the spa, softening it and creating a dappled effect.

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Hiroyuki Oki

At this building MIA Design Studio has used its understanding of the area’s climate while taking an approach born of the country’s vernacular. Despite its traditional roots it is clearly a modern building with its own identity in the site’s vast masterplan. In a country looking towards modernisation and Western ideals, this scheme shows the importance of local talent.  

Naman Spa, Vietnam 

Architect: Mia Design Studio

Principal architect: Nguyen Hoang Manh

Contractor: Thanh Do Investment and Construction Cooperation

Photographs: Hiroyuki Oki

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