In New York City, apartment rooftops tend to be the domain of HVAC ducts, water towers, and the occasional barbecue, accessible to a few residents. But imagine if the rooftops of our skyscrapers were turned into lush public gardens that actually spanned the gaps between buildings. Instead of taking the elevator down to street level, the domain of cars and delivery vehicles, you could walk from block to block up in the fresh air.
That’s the reality of Vo Trong Nghia Architects’ new trio of housing towers, to be built in Ho Chi Minh City. The Diamond Lotus project will occupy a strip of land between rivers, and the three 22-story condos will provide 720 homes.
The roof is the most striking part of the development, with one long strip of garden running over the tops of all three buildings. The bridge sections are supported by cables strung from arches, like a suspension bridge, and the land will be planted with trees and plants.
But just as important are the bamboo-covered balconies. Each apartment opens its floor-to-ceiling windows onto a bamboo-planted terrace. This filters sunlight and will sway in the breeze that wafts through the high-rise riverside apartments. Take a look at the architect’s renderings, and you’ll see it feels like the rooms open onto a rooftop garden. It looks pretty good from the street, too, with green strips running around the building in gentle waves.
Much of Vo Trong Nghia’s work involves bamboo, and covering buildings in trees. One of the neatest is the Farming Kindergarten, a 500-pupil school with a farm on its infinitely looping roof, also in Ho Chi Minh City.
This, like the Diamond Lotus, brings Vietnam’s agricultural history into the city. Somehow, the developments also seem more human-scaled than other large projects, transplanting the village to the city.