Calm the mind, connect with place – Võ Trọng Nghia – VTN Architects

Ecogradia Podcast – Series 4 Episode 8

Calm the mind, connect with place – Võ Trọng Nghia – VTN Architects

Ecogradia Podcast – Series 4 Episode 8

How to unlock the mind to produce better designs, faster? Võ Trọng Nghia explores this question, revealing a philosophy where meditation is the key to healing ourselves and saving the planet.

Last updated: May 07, 2024 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Võ Trọng Nghia is renowned for adapting vernacular techniques to a modern context. His pragmatic approach has earned him international acclaim, including 156 awards and prestigious recognitions like the Prince Claus Award and Architect of the Year by Dezeen. He was a further author of the Holcim Foundation Awards Global Silver (2008) for Low-impact Greenfield University Campus in Vietnam.

Planetary wellbeing begins with personal healing, says Nghia. In this episode, discover how an idealistic philosophy grounded in pragmatism can reveal unexpected sustainability solutions.

In 2012, Võ Trọng Nghia turned to meditation to cope with anger and unhappiness. His commitment led him to a monastery in Myanmar, where he stayed for about three years. Since then, meditation has shaped his design ethos and approach. Nghia views meditation as an essential tool for personal and professional clarity.

Calm the mind, connect with place

An integrated rooftop farm allows children to participate in urban agriculture at the Farming Kindergarten in Đồng Nai. Photo: Courtesy © Hiroyuki Oki.

The staff at VTN Architects spend an hour meditating every day after work. Nghia says meditation simplifies architecture by improving concentration and quieting the wandering mind.

He emphasises that we are disconnected from nature and ourselves. He advocates for mental healing, believing that it will naturally lead to environmental restoration. The Farming Kindergarten provides an example of how architecture can foster a connection with nature. The design of the kindergarten incorporates a roof that also operates as a community farm.

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