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You Could Play Checkers On This Building’s Facade

A new project from Vietnam-based architecture firm Vo Trong Nghia Architects turns a university administration building into an eco-friendly board game.

The seven-story building at FPT University in Hanoi features an alternating checkerboard-patterned facade, in which concrete blocks alternate with open space for trees and grass.


It’s a neat visual effect with a pragmatic element: The blocks are designed to maximize light and ventilation to the building to reduce energy consumption. A green roof helps keep the building cool, provides a place for the staff to relax, and offers other psychological benefits. These passive design features reduce the building’s reliance on air-conditioning and artificial lighting, decreasing the building’s impact on the power grid–a response to Vietnam’s power shortage problem.

In the U.S., the arguments for reducing energy usage in buildings are usually economic (the building will be less expensive to maintain) or moral (paying lip-service to the idea of fighting climate change). In Vietnam, the issue is a bit more urgent. In recent years, demand for electricity has outstripped the country’s ability to provide it. As a result, blackouts are commonplace. (Last summer, a tree brushing up against a power line managed to knock out power for 8 million customers in southern Vietnam and Cambodia.) Architecture can’t solve the problem entirely, but buildings that are designed to function with less electricity can help.

[h/t Design Taxi

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