In transit: a shifting approach towards design and preservation in rapidly changing Ho Chi Minh City by Hoanh V. Tran

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Abstract

This research documents my architectural practice within the partnership of HTA+pizzini Architects in the rapidly changing environment of Ho Chi Minh City. The practice includes an American partner, Archie Pizzini, and myself, a native Saigonese, returned from the US with a professional background in both architectural preservation and architectural design.

This research traces three central themes that have shifted over the course of our practice: a focus on the local setting, Vietnam; an association of history with design; and an adaptation of Western architectural design to the context of Vietnam.

I reflect on these themes through the designs of the projects to demonstrate: 1) an evolving stance towards the local setting, changing from engagement to commitment, 2) the shifting identity of our practice, changing from a commercially focussed practice to an ideas-focussed practice and 3) reconciliation with rapid and constant changes in the setting of Vietnam.

These reflections have clarified our design approaches, which encompass maintaining the accumulative nature of Ho Chi Minh City, maintaining the existing urban and social fabrics and negotiating new design into the existing setting.

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