Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
TAA Design has enveloped its new four-story, timber cube office building with a blanket of greenery in response to the city’s hot tropical environment.
Tony Fruit Office is situated in District 4 of Ho Chi Minh City where building ratio is high with most of the constructed buildings serving as the city’s commercial hubs and office headquarters.
This new project—Tony Fruit Office—sits on a T-junction with an open view to the public park and square.
However, two main facades of the building receive direct sunlight from dusk till dawn, causing a great overheating problem for the interiors.
The idea of utilizing a perforated geometry allows the possibility to generate intermediate space for shading while maintaining expansive visual contact from inside the built environment to the urbanscape outside.
On the other hand, setting back the hard construction creates room for outdoor greenery that results in a natural skin covering daylight-exposed facades.
Protected by a blanket of plants surrounding the building, every office space in the interiors obtains a fresh view of the green surface.
A system of similar green spaces is continued on every floor with mutual eye contact from different levels, which further improves the enjoyable experience of each space.
A collective of wood slats formed cubes to provide effective shading against diagonal daylight entering the building.
Meanwhile, the setback glazing receives as much reflected light which benefits the cooling and lighting cost in building maintenance.
The Green-perforated block is a possible solution for improving working space conditions for urban buildings that resides in cities with the same tropical environment as Ho Chi Minh City.
Therefore, a public passage could be created through the Parliament.
In a natural and intuitive way the passage will provide a grand entrance to visitors of the Parliament and establish an actual node in the pedestrian network of Brussels.
Additionally, a magnificent found quality can be activated by excavating the Spinelli building in front, on the axis from Gare d’Europe.
By removing the wall-like condition in this central part of the building a truly inviting gesture comes into being: instead of obstructing the Spaak, the Spinelli now becomes an open-air entrance to the Parliament, quite literally welcoming the public with open arms.
The new assembly chamber of the European Parliament, called the Hemicycle, will be repositioned on the upper levels of the renewed building to meet the spatial requirements for a modernized chamber.
It will be equipped with digital amenities that help spread the discourse of democracy beyond physical confines.
The room is extensively integrated with the Parliament’s digital platform to enhance transparency and encourage external participation.
Another primary feature is the large windows which establish a visual dialogue between the Parliament, the rooftop garden, as well as the city and European citizens at large. One of these large windows can also become a screen to transmit information in real-time during assemblies.
In addition, it honors European democracy, most notably through the collective’s international makeup, and the many public areas accessible to all people.
Located on the highest floor, the Green Agora is the culmination of the public visitors’ journey in the building.
The botanical garden draws inspiration from the “agora” in Ancient Greece–it literally means “gathering place” and facilitated the circulation of ideas among people at the time.
Not only visually connected to the Hemicycle through the latter’s open ceiling, the Green Agora will also serve as the beacon of European democracy, where citizens and the Members of the European Parliament meet and exchange thoughts.
In addition, the spirit of pan-European synergy is reinforced in natural terms, as the park brings together vegetation indigenous to all the member states to form a multifaceted European ecosystem.
All in all, the new SPAAK building by EUROPARC–with the permeable ground floor, the Hemicycle, the Green Agora and beyond–creates a civic ecosystem that places people at the center of the spatial experience and brings them closer to the democratic processes of Europe.
It is a unique piece of infrastructure that gives the Members of the European Parliament the space to carry out their parliamentary missions and citizens access to a site of significant political and social value to enrich their everyday life.
The team engaged in a creative process which embodies the democratic ideal of the European Union.
All the members, drawing inspiration from their respective cultural backgrounds and distinct specialties, worked together to put forward a collective design solution for the European Parliament building.
The design seeks to address urgent challenges faced by Europe and the world at large, including climate change, social inequalities and the blurring of physical and digital domains–the latter is also reflected in the collective’s mode of collaboration, where a remote and flexible approach was adopted since the first COVID-19 outbreak.
The European Parliament announced the international competition to renew the SPAAK Building in May 2020, with the objectives to set a positive example of sustainable and regenerative building and to engage in dialogue with citizens and the city.
EUROPARC’s proposal stood out from the 15 submitted designs and was officially named the winner of the first prize in July 2022.
The jury commended the project for both its functional and symbolic qualities, calling it “… a genuine re-use proposal that offers an enhanced interface with the public and a new architectural expression to the building with useful sustainability features.”
Project: Tony Fruit Office
Architects: TAA Design
Design Team: Nguyen Van Thien, Nguyen Van Thuan, Le Thi Huong, and Le Nha Vy
Client: Tony Fruit Company
Photographers: Hoang Le