Vietnam’s architecture industry is growing apace with the country’s economy, presenting aspiring designers with opportunities to take and challenges to tackle.
Anyone who has spent time in Ho Chi Minh City knows that the city is changing fast. According to Gretchen Wilkins, Associate Professor and Head of Design in the School of Communication and Design, there is an on-going “shift from the existing older sort of vernacular of city fabric and blocks to these new, more international models of design.”
Associate Professor Wilkins believes this offers an opportunity for designers to step in and make their mark as the city evolves.
“There are a lot of good designers…and a lot of activity,” she says. “The economy is in a good state so you need…to capitalise on the design aspect of it.”
There are numerous projects for new designers to consider working on, and Wilkins thinks the city’s growing stock of residential towers could provide an outlet. “Getting design into higher-density housing is where there’s a real opportunity,” she says.
Meanwhile Archie Pizzini, Design Principal at HTA+pizzini Architects and RMIT graduate, argues that many current architecture and design students are much more thoughtful than in the past.
“In the past four years or so, some more inquisitive students have come to understand and seek out the deeper concepts beneath the forms,” he shares. “A small crop of serious home-grown designers is resulting from that.”
Hoanh Tran, also from HTA+pizzini, explains that there are ample job prospects for such students, though the type of work they do depends on their firm.
“The architectural firms that are hiring the most…are usually more commercial-oriented, [and are] doing developers’ towers and new towns,” he shares. “Jobs are more secure…but they do not get to design, they become project managers for the developers.”
Tran noted that architects at construction companies do get to design. “They draw shop drawings and do site work – the best way to learn the nuts and bolts stuff,” he says.
Ultimately, Pizzini is optimistic regarding the future of architectural design in Vietnam. “Small local design firms doing small designs with a large impact are proliferating in the city, and that’s a hopeful sign,” he shares.
Story: Michael Tatarski