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“The Lantern”, Nanoco – Panasonic lighting showroom by Vo Trong Nghia Architects + Takashi Niwa

Located within Dong Da district, Hanoi, the newly constructed gallery and lighting showroom uses a perforated terracotta façade to create a simple yet significant impact on the surrounding landscape.

Designed by Vo Trong Nghia Architects + Takashi Niwa

Principal architects: Vo Trong Nghia + Takashi Niwa

Design Team: Nguyen Thi Thoa, Koji Yamamoto, Dao Sy Dung

Photography by Hiroyuki Oki, Trieu Chien

The gallery is located on the top floor overlooking a large neighbouring tree, while the slit skylights expose the roof garden. This offers a space for architects and design professionals to interact.

Upon entering the building, visitors are greeted with a large void. The showroom is carefully planned around the void to allow visitors to view the exhibited product at a glance from the central staircase.

The terracotta blocks were traditionally used in Vietnam before air-conditioning. Designed for tropical climates, they allow for passive ventilation and shade from harsh sunlight. The blocks are both functional and inexpensive at £0.42 each amounting to £2,350 for the 5,625 blocks used. Furthermore, the bespoke fixing system allowed for a quick and simple assembly.

The existing site proposed interesting design challenges, such as the typically small inner-city site at 72 sqm, adjacent tree and busy streetscape. The foliage overshadows the site, making it difficult for pedestrians to recognise the building from the main road. However, this scenario presented a unique opportunity to consider the existing tree and distracting context whilst maximising the usable space.

This building provides a delicate backdrop to the ever-changing tree. During the day shadows are cast upon the clean façade, bringing it to life. In the evening the building is illuminated from within, acting as a lantern in the city.

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