le studio architects has designed ‘hien pavilion’, an information and pastoral center for parishioners and visitors to the st. joseph cathedral in hanoi, vietnam. the design draws from the symbolic character of the location to establish a system of opposite, dichotomous pairs, sparking a conversation between old and new, within a spiritual, religious context. the structure’s main functionalities include a reception area, a bookstore, and a gift shop.
all images courtesy of hoang le
le studio architects decided to amplify the dual characteristic of classical catholicism in this otherwise purely functional project, while refusing to repeat its inherent symbols. the result is a system of opposing, dichotomous pairs: high-low, big-small, solid-hollow, main-supplementary, yin-yang, complete-incomplete, fixed-fluid, heavy-light, visible-hidden, materialistic-ethereal. in this way, the design forms special bonds between the new structure and the existing architectural ensemble in the vicinity.
this system is materialized by conventional architecture solutions, mainly glass and steel, with the existing vegetation mostly retained, interwoven in the new structure. the idea is to create a large ‘shade’ by weaving a long canopy with the existing vegetation, minimizing the physical appearance of the architectural structure, promoting the ‘negative’ and ‘give wat’ to maximize the existence of the ‘positive’, which is the st. joseph cathedral itself.
the connection between the structure and the surrounding is very easy to identify, but the actual architecture vernacular itself is not as clear-cut, showing the asian view of “harmonious yin and yang” (congruous duality). the “yin” elements of the structure contain a glimpse of the “yang”, carefully calibrated through the design of the building’s outer shell, at the same time act as a solution to resolve the conflicting objectives of minimizing the domination of the building volume, while satisfying service space requirements.
the prototype is simple, ambiguous, and polymorphic, part otherworldly, and partly inspired by traditional northern architecture. it is embodied by many elements, for example, the long building structure, or the large canopy, emphasizing linear continuity, at the same time promoting the structure in all of its fluid imperfections. in a project of such historical context and value, besides meeting the requirements, through the design proposals, we would also like to express my conservation research point of view and treatment perspectives towards landscape and heritage building of immeasurable value.
name: hien pavilion
architects: le studio architects (LSA)
lead architect: le minh hoang
design team: le minh hoang, pham van dung
other collaborators: tran anh duc
location: hanoi, vietnam
area: 235 sqm
edited by: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom