Practice and Thought: A Manifesto

Vo Trong Nghia 

Since the foundation of the studio in the year 2006, my work is based on these key principles:

Through Meditation

Through meditation, I observe how things are born and how they disappear; I realize that everything passes by, everything ends in a natural way. I start thinking about what really matters. In five or ten years, cellphones and cars will stop working. Even human beings, after living a long time, end up dying.

At my studio, we respect the five fundamental precepts of Buddhism: abstain from killing; abstain from stealing; abstain from sexual misconduct; abstain from lying; and abstain from intoxication, to preserve awareness.

In the office, respecting these five precepts – the Sila –, is the most important thing. We believe that following this code will make us happier and will also make our clients happier. Following these precepts, we earn the trust of society and work on our projects with greater calm. We try to secure happiness for all human beings.

The Social Backdrop of Our Work 

Human desires have no end. When we were kids, we wanted a bicycle; when we were students, a motorcycle; and then a car… There are no boundaries, we always want more and more. We think that, “the more things we have, the happier we’ll be.” But, if we look back, we realize that the pleasure of having a bicycle is no different from that of having a car. In fact, probably it was even greater in the first case. All in all human desires never stop growing. We have wanted to dominate nature through science and technology. This leads to a vicious circle that keep going faster. Desires, more and more powerful, follow one another, and we distance ourselves from nature more and more. The Earth is being destroyed; wars and climate change emerge; and changes happen faster as the world becomes a less stable place.

Population density, especially in Asia, is extremely high. Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, the two cities where our offices are located, have populations of seven million inhabitants each. An important part of these populations uses polluting motorcycles, and a huge volume of radio waves is generated every day because of the use of electrical devices. We live in dense cities and cut down forests to build them. Rivers are contaminated and the streets are filled with garbage produced by petroleum-based plastics.

Our job is to create spaces that satisfy human desires, to create beautiful objects. But I think that from here on one of the essential issues for architects will be to answer the following question: How can we connect human beings to nature?...[+]

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