5 Open Storage Tricks To Try If You Want to Display Your Stuff

  • March 19, 2018

While open floor layout is the best trick to saving space and making your unit seem larger than it actually is, open storage is the our key to making your space stylish and functional. Although this storage solution is prone to looking cluttered, there are ways you can incorporate it into your condo’s design style while still keeping it looking good. Here are a few tricks to do it.

1 Rail and S Hooks

Probably the barest of all storage ideas, this combination of rails and S-hooks can be a genius way to store away things you use on a daily basis: it’s so bare you almost only see what’s hanging, making it accessible and easy to clean! This open storage idea is most suitable for condos leaning on the industrial design style because of the ruggedness of the metal rails. However, this combo gets tricky when it comes to keeping it stylish. To make it work, use it more in the kitchen to store your pots and pans, herbs and spices, ladles, and pot holders. You can color-code so it looks clean or contrast the metallic finishes with wood or your tiny herb garden’s greens. READ MORE: How to Start Your Own Urban Herb Garden

2 Floating Shelves

scandinavian condo, iriss mangio, interior design philippines, interior designer, interior designer manila, interiors, This is perfect for those saving floor space and favor ample vertical space. It can be incorporated into any design style, from minimal to eclectic, and in any part of your condo. For minimalists, you can stick to a neutral color palette for your shelves and accessories. For rustic-industrial aficionados, you can expose the bolts and rails that hold your shelves afloat and put on display knick-knacks in warm tones and brass or rugged textures. For eclectic fanatics, you can play with colors and textures, incorporate baskets, bowls, or boxes of different styles and colors, books, vases, and trinkets.

3 Shelf Wall

Cozy Condo Storage, cozy condo, condo, gelo del mundo For those who have a full wall or an under-stairs space that they don’t know what to do about, you can turn it into an open-shelf wall, like those you usually see in libraries. But don’t make it so boring like a library’s shelf; don’t fill it to the brim. Allow vacant or semi-filled spaces in the shelf to make it lighter to the eyes and incorporate statement pieces to make it more interesting. Put square baskets and other stylish storage bins to make it a little more decorative and more organized without compromising storage space.

4 Overhead Compartments

If you don’t have that bare wall to put up floating shelves on in your unit but still want that open storage, you can make use of overhead compartments like the top of your fridge, your breakfast bar, or your kitchen island. This is best for those who have a high ceiling. If you’re going for a full shelf, you can store here your glass canisters of different grains or your cookbooks. You can also make use of it as extra shelf for your growing collection of plates and antique cups. 

5 Glass Cabinets

If you aren’t so fond of open storage solutions, you can opt for glass cabinets. These give the illusion of being open without actually being open. Whether it’s a combination of wood and glass or metal and glass, it can easily be integrated into any design style, not to mention, its surface can be another open shelf. This open storage solution (or illusion) is also lazy-people-friendly because it keeps dust away from your things, which means less cleaning or dusting!

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This 35-sqm Contemporary Condo Has Storage Everywhere!

  • March 19, 2018

MN Design Studio. When entering the unit, a well-organized layout and furnishings in natural, earthy colors and brass accents immediately welcome visitors and give a calm and relaxed hotel room feel. The left side of the studio has a large custom cabinet wall that combines a bar, desk, closet, display and several storage options. The fun bar integrated in the cabinet wall is reminiscent of upscale hotel rooms. Beige high chairs and sophisticated ceiling glass cabinets complete the look. Opposite the huge cabinet wall, a small dining area with comfortable lounge chairs, a modern glass table and space-enhancing wall mirror invites the owners to enjoy their meals. A large light-framed square centerpiece brightens the room and serves as a room divider, entertainment center and display cabinet. Maria Luisa points out the custom-made furniture piece as a favorite in her new Manila home. “Because of the accent wall, our studio looks like a one-bedroom apartment,” adds Alex. Behind the light-framed square centerpiece are the bed and gray custom sofa. The two are placed at the center of the room for a relaxation area. Placing the small sofa between the TV and bed cleverly combined the bed and living room. Beige and gray tones give the are a cohesive look. On the right side of the bed, instead of of space-taking bedside tables, the owner and designer opted for wall-mounted shelf that can be used for books and stylish accessories. Under-shelf lighting illuminates the wall. On the opposite wall is an integrated desk on the cabinet wall. It offers space to work while continuing the contemporary style vision of the condo. Custom made furniture perfectly fit the work corner. A glass display cabinet and wooden desk drawers meet the owners’ need for ample storage space. Also, a hidden opening in the desk keeps light switches and electrical outlets, a convenience inspired by high-end hotel rooms. Most of the accessories found in this contemporary condo are travel memorabilia from the owners or the Dapitan Arcade. The unit’s furnishings were sourced from contractor ABD (Allen B. Dizon) and were custom-made, a decision Mauro encourages: “I try to push clients to choose custom-made furniture just to make sure that they get the best of the best. Custom furniture pieces are unique and the owner can dictate the size.” “I’m really happy with the outcome of the condo. I told my husband ‘maybe we should live here now,'” Maria Luisa beams. Alex agrees. Just a day before the married couple jetsets to New York City for a vacation, Alex shares, “We can actually be nomads now! We can live both here and in Davao and alternate between our two homes.” This story first appeared on CondoLiving 2015 Vol. 11.2. Edits have been made for CondoLiving.OneMega.com.

Look Inside More Contemporary Condos

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10 5-Minute Daily Decluttering Hacks For Busy/Lazy Millennials

  • March 19, 2018

Decluttering is not easy. Spring cleaning requires a weekend afternoon (honestly, who has the time?!)  and some of us might see it as a daunting task. Luckily, Leo Babauta made a trick to declutter easily. From lives in California with six kids and manages a minimalist-driven lifestyle blog called ZenHabits. He is a friend of The Minimalists on Netflix, and he too encourages people to live with less clutter. If decluttering is yet to be ticked off your to-do list, Leo’s idea might be for you.

“Start with just five minutes. Baby steps are important. Sure, five minutes won’t barely make a dent in your mountain” — Leo Babauta

The premise is simple: do one of these decluttering tasks daily for five minutes, and you’ll be on your way to a cleaner and organized space. You can choose the tasks in order from 1-10 or completely do them at random, it doesn’t matter. What matters is you allot 5 minutes a day to declutter. You can consider it as a “small buy steady wins the race” type of decluttering. It’s not the one-time, big-time Spring cleaning that we’re all so scared of.

Here’s our Top Picks from Leo’s 5-minute tasks:

1 File Papers

Leo recommends getting a box or a tray to help you out organizing your paper clutter, this can be mail, office work, or clearing out receipts from your bag. Read More: 4 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Paper Clutter Paper-clutter

2 Clear off a Counter

This can be in your kitchen or bathroom countertop.

3 Clear a Zone

You can pick an area, your bedroom, dining, or study!

4 Clean a Shelf

Re-Organize your books or your collectibles, Leo shares that this doesn’t have to be the WHOLE shelf. It can be one-shelf at a time so it’s easier to do for you. condo-living-how-to-style-books-image-4

5 Pick up 5 Things and Find a Place for Them

Remember those items you left and forgot to place back? Yup, it’s time to return them or give them a new home.

6 Pause and Visualize

You have to consider if what’s in that room should actually be there, if not, throw it out or put it back to where it belongs. “Once I’ve visualized how the room will look uncluttered, and figured out what is essential, I get rid of the rest,” he adds. myhomedesign-minimalist-condo

7 Create a “Maybe” Box

If you are yet to decide if you want to keep something or not, consider making a “maybe box”. FIll it with items you’re not sure should stay or leave, and come back to it a few months after for a final judgement day.

8 Pull-Out Clothes You No Longer Wear

If you don’t wear them often, take five minutes in a day and declutter your wardrobe. Opt to pass on the clothes to friends, or donate them. myhomedesign-closet-feature-image

9 Organize your Medicine Cabinet

Expired beauty products need to be disposed of and it shouldn’t take more than five minutes of your time. You’ll also get to check if you need to restock on some advils.

10 Empty a Drawer

Declutter your underwear drawer or your study drawer, these baby steps will surely make your space more organized from every nook and cranny.

10 Commandments To Be The Best Condo Neighbor EVER

A condominium challenges the idea of “shared space” more than anywhere else. The moment you move in a condo, you share a series of common areas with the other people in your building, and it is only right that all of you take care of those areas as a community. Here are 10 commandments so you can be a good condo neighbor!  

1 Thou SHALL Hold The Elevator Door

We’re all always in a rush but that’s no excuse to close the elevator door on someone. If you hear someone locking their door or footsteps from the hallway, hold the door, call out “down!” as a friendly reminder for your neighbor to walk faster and to let them know you’re waiting up on them. You’ll appriciate the same gesture if someone holds the door for you too!  

2 Thou Shall NOT Flush Tissue

While it might look like the easiest thing to do, do not flush down things in your toilet aside from the things that supposed to be flushed in there (#1 and #2 only please!). Anything that shouldn’t be flushed there (wet wipes, 3-Ply tissues, condoms, plastic sachets, etc.) can clog the entire drainage system of the entire building so do everyone a favor and only flush the right things down the toilet. toilet plume, bathroom secret, bathroom tips, bathroom germs, bathroom cleaning

3 Thou Shall NOT Hoard The Gym Equipment

Please, please, please keep in mind that you share the gym with everyone else. While it is great that you’re working out to be healthy, remember that other people are using the gym with you. Limit using the treadmill for 30 minutes and the bench press for 15 minutes. Be sensitive and check if anyone else wants to use the equipment while you’re using them.  

4 Thou SHALL Report Anything Suspicious

Hear anything weird from your neighbor’s unit or see something out of the ordinary in your hallway? Call your building admin immediately. In a condo, it is everyone’s responsibility in the building to look out for each other.  

5 Thou Shall NOT Throw Anything From The Balcony

The balcony is a place to relax, it is not a massive trash can window. Be it cigarette butts or tiny papers, nothing should be thrown from your balcony. Not only does it litter up the environment, it is also dangerous for those under your balcony. condo balcony, condo veranda, condo tips, condo interior design, interior design, interior design manila, interior design tips,

6 Thou SHALL Be Nice to The Personnel

Guards, the front desk lady, or the maintenance boys, these people are the ones who keep the whole building running like a machine. Remember to be nice to them, they are there to assist you and make your life easier, but also remember that they are not your slaves. Treat them with respect and dignity.  

7 Thou SHALL Keep the Hallways and Other Communal Areas Clean

Everyone uses the hallways and sure there are personnel assigned to clean those areas up but that is no reason for you dirty it up. A good condo neighbor doesn’t let his or her pet pee/poop in the hallway and doesn’t leave pizza boxes as if the condo was a hotel. Pick up after your pet and put trash in the allocated garbage room or garbage chute.  

8 Thou Shall NOT Play Music Extremely Loud

Remember that the only thing separating your from the rest of your neighbors is a wall. Be a good condo neighbor and keep your speakers’ volume down to a minimum. If you’re hosting a party, the same rule applies, especially in the wee-hours of the night when your neighbors are getting their zzzs. The last thing you want is your party to be shut down because of complaints! Sonos speakers, Home speakers, House speakers,

9 Thou SHALL Segrate Trash

This is a tiny thing that can make a big difference. Don’t just dump your jumbled trash in the garbage room or chute. A good condo neighbor has at least four trash cans in his/her condo: one for biodegradables, one for non-biodegradables, one for recyclables, and one for the bathroom. If you have limited space, have at least two: biodegradables and non-biodegradables.  

10 Thou SHALL Be Polite and Respectful

This is the most important rule a good condo neighbor is to be considerate, polite, and respectful. The confides of you unit might be yours but the other areas is a commonwealth, it’s something everyone in the building uses so its best to take care of those spaces as a community. ]]>

This Family Clan’s Cozy Country Home Inspired Mom and Tina’s Look

Resting on two lots in Tagaytay is this cozy country home purchased by the Torres clan as a location for their family gatherings with a headcount of at least 50 people. Aside from its sheer size, the home stands out for its uniquely American country-inspired exterior. On the inside of the home is a consistent look, warm woods, floral and gingham prints, and cozy quilts adorn the home.
Cozy Country Home, Mom & tina's, interior design philippines, myhome magazine
Some of the furniture in the home are family relics, having been with the family even before the 1999s when the home was still in Baguio. According to Emilio, one of the grandsons and now helps manages Mom & Tina’s, the tita go-to restaurant is very much influenced by their grandparents’ cozy country home. “We had a lot of extra furnithing from our Baguio home, some of which were used in Mom & Tina’s,” Emilio shares.
Cozy Country Home, Mom & tina's, interior design philippines, myhome magazine
The cozy country home has three sitting areas, each can seat 8-10 people, in order to accommodate the entire family during holiday reunions.
Cozy Country Home, Mom & tina's, interior design philippines, myhome magazine
There are also a lot of dining areas that can seat almost everyone in their massive clan. When asked about the family’s fondest moment in the home, Emilio cites two: when they’re eating together and when they’re planning to eat together.  When they’re eating breakfast, the family is already planning what to eat for lunch, come lunch, they’re planning merienda, and so on. “We really go here as an excuse to eat,” jokes Emilio.
Cozy Country Home, Mom & tina's, interior design philippines, myhome magazine
Undeniably, the visual cues of Mom & Tina’s five stores in Metro Manila is inspired by the family’s vacation home in Tagaytay.
Cozy Country Home, Mom & tina's, interior design philippines, myhome magazine
In the first floor is the grandmother’s room, she cites the love seat rocking chair as her favorite spot in the house.
Cozy Country Home, Mom & tina's, interior design philippines, myhome magazine
In the second floor, there are rooms filled with beds and beds to accommodate the growing family. It’s almost like a dormitory with the number of sleeping spaces. The high ceiling rooms also have a lot, truly maximizing the space so the family clan can fit in the house during reunions
Cozy Country Home, Mom & tina's, interior design philippines, myhome magazine
Cozy Country Home, Mom & tina's, interior design philippines, myhome magazine
Each of the matriarch’s children has one bedroom in the cozy country home, to be shared with their respective families. Each room is tailored to each unique taste but is still consistent with the cozy country home look.
Cozy Country Home, Mom & tina's, interior design philippines, myhome magazine
Outside, the family spends a lot of time playing games, especially the kids. The adults enjoy the cool air of Tagaytay with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate in one hand. They also built a guest extension space.
Cozy Country Home, Mom & tina's, interior design philippines, myhome magazine
Cozy Country Home, Mom & tina's, interior design philippines, myhome magazine
This story first appeared on MyHome July 2017, edits have been made for MyHome.OneMega.com

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T3 Architects moved to Family Garden roughly two years ago. The firm occupies 40-50 sqm of office space, and share many outdoor areas and green spaces for both meetings and relaxation.

T3 Architects’ ‘office’ in a garden in Ho Chi Minh City

General director and co-founder of T3 Architects Charles Gallavardin on starting his firm and the company’s green-pronged design approach

T3 Architects co-founder Charles Gallavardin began his work in Vietnam with an NGO from 2003 to 2005. This NGO, Villes en Transition, dealt with urban poverty reduction in many slum areas in Saigon, Central Vietnam and Mekong Delta areas.

Villes en Transition did many studies on social and low-cost housing in the area, which led to a pilot project that generated buzz: Tan Hoa Lo Gom low cost housing in District 6, Saigon.

Family Garden, where the Vietnam office of T3 Architects is, has a lot of common areas and facilities shared amongst the other five design studios and practices within the complex, which encourages design collaborations.

Gallavardin then settled in France with his wife (an architect as well). There they set up T3 Architecture Company in Marseille with two friends, focusing on green and sustainable architecture, and adaptive reuse projects. Two of his colleagues continue to work for T3 Architecture in Marseille today. Meanwhile, the Gallavardin couple returned Vietnam in 2011 as employees in renowned architecture studios.

After some unsatisfactory experiences with their employers and projects, they decided to open T3 Architecture in Ho Chi Minh City, keeping the relationship with their first office in France.


T3 Architects General Director and Co-Founder Charles Gallavardin in Belgo Brewery, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

You said you first worked on low-cost housing. What made you interested to work on these projects?

I still think like many young people do when they start out. You want to help save the world. And because I’m an architect, I said, “Okay, let’s go make low-cost housing for poor people and work in social fields.” But then I was disappointed by the way politicians take back your ideas and freedom.

And then, I figured there are other ways to ‘save the world’ beyond the public sector, which lead us to private commissions. Having good values, strong ethical standards and consciously avoiding work with people with dirty money can go a long way. It’s important as well to create projects that won’t damage the environment and one that functions well for its users.

When you started the Vietnam office of T3 Architects, how many were you then?

Only two: me and my wife, Tereza. She’s a Czech architect.

Was your office here (Family Garden) already?

No. We were working at home, in a small room. We collaborated with a Vietnamese friend, Mr. Thang Hoang Le Manh, who is our partner as well. He spent eight years in France to study and work, and he came back to Vietnam the same time as us. So very quickly we started to collaborate. We started with three partners, T3. And we are still three main partners.

READ MORE: The Office as a Design Playground by Jagnus Design Studio

When did you move to this new office? How is it better from the last one?

We initially moved to another office also in this area, when we were 5 people. And then we moved to Family Garden roughly two years ago.

Our space here is 40-50 sqm plus we have many outdoor areas and green spaces we can use for both meetings and relaxation. That’s the main concept of this place. We have a lot of common areas and facilities shared amongst the other five design studios and practices within the complex too. It opens us up to design collaborations.

The firm’s design philosophy is clearly reflected on their office in Ho Chi Minh City: Vietnamese contemporary, using local materials and natural materials as much as possible.

How many people are in your office currently?

We are currently ten in Vietnam. And we also have an office since a year ago in Phnom Penh in Cambodia with two employees, 1 French architect, and 1 Khmer architect who graduated in Moscow.

How does your office reflect your studio’s personality?

I would say Vietnamese contemporary, using local materials, using natural materials as much as possible. So it’s also good for us. And now we really want to focus again fully in sustainable architecture.

We really want to focus on sustainable architecture, even though at the start, some of our clients didn’t seem to care because we believe in it and the benefits it brings to both man and environment. But now, thanks to Vietnamese studios that champion green architecture like VTN, people are starting to change their minds about sustainable contemporary architecture.

Office Practice

Gallavardin says that they try to keep the number of employees to a limited number in order give every one a chance to get involved in all the projects they handle.

What’s it like in your office in a normal day?

We start at around 9:00 in the morning and we finish around 6:30-7:00 in the evening. And only 5 days a week, Monday to Friday. We don’t work on weekends. The main idea is for our team members to have free time to enjoy life outside of work: to go to exhibitions, concerts, enjoy other things and maybe derive ideas and concepts that will jog their creativity. This is important to us. The goal is to get everyone to have work-life balance. I know a lot of studios and architects that work almost all the time until the weekends. That’s not our thing.

I see, so is it normal in Vietnam for architecture studios to work on the weekends?

Quite often, on Saturday mornings. Before, it was whole Saturdays. More often, we stop on a Friday evening. Of course, like many other architecture studios sometimes we work extra hours, especially our main partners. The partners work a minimum of 10 hours a day. For employees, 8 hours a day.

READ MORE: The Anti-Archetypal Office by Park+Associates

How many design projects do you handle currently? And on average, how many design projects do you handle in a year?

I would say, a minimum of 10. Now we have 5 projects in design and construction in Cambodia. In Vietnam, we also have 6 projects in the design process phase. From low-scale to big-scale, from interiors to landscape design. 

Design Process

“The goal is to get everyone to have work-life balance. I know a lot of studios and architects that work almost all the time until the weekends. That’s not our thing,” Gallavardin says.

Briefly discuss, from start to finish, how you deal with a certain design project.

The first very important step for us is the design brief. It means we spend 2-3 weeks to clarify the program of the client: what kind of project they want (hotel, restaurant or office); is it a new building or a renovation; the budget they have per square meter (we don’t care too much about the full budget, but having an idea of the budget per sqm helps us get an idea about the materials we can use, the contractor and the supplier we can collaborate with). We then craft a construction schedule to get a realistic timeline of the project. And then we try to clarify the design tender, and the style they want and what we can offer them. We go for projects that promote sustainability, contemporary, with respect for local context.

As soon as the design brief is validated, we ask the client to sign it. And then we don’t come back to it, so they cannot do a U-turn on the agreed upon idea, well, except for a few minor things. We ask them to sign. It means they have to confirm by writing the program is like this, especially with a local investor.

Then we go for concept design. First we concentrate on the layout and once we have fleshed out the needs and requirements and plotted it down to a plan we start to create the 3D models. And then we draw technical parts of the design: basic design, all sections and elevation layouts, and we define more all the materials.

We then proceed to the detailed design tender. We usually work like in Europe: we propose to the client to organize a tender to compare the prices of different contractors, helping him make savings during the tender process. So architecture does not only incur costs, but it is also possible to save money.

“We go for projects that promote sustainability, contemporary, with respect for local context,” Gallavardin emphasizes their firm’s design philosophy.

Then we work on details for construction. So when the contractor is selected, we work with him to finalize a few details to make sure everything is clear. Then there’s one or two site visits a week, minimum. If it’s in Saigon, we propose to make a construction visit everyday on site. We take care of the technical part, coordination of the suppliers and contractor, everything.

During that time, we collaborate with the MEP designer, fixture designer, landscape designer, and lighting designer. We have a partnership with a few friends in other companies, and most of the time we work with them, but we always give the choice to the client. We’re independent.

“We involve all the employees in decision-making. We call it a “cooperative” in Europe where every employee gives his/her own opinion. We share our opinions together and take into consideration their opinions. We also share the benefits of the company. So if the company is doing well, the employees get bonuses,” Gallavardin explains their studio’s horizontal hierarchy.

So do you prefer to have only about 10 people or below 20 people in your firm? Would you like to maintain having a small workforce?

We’d like to get 3 offices running at least. With around 12 employees in Vietnam; in the future, about 10 employees in Cambodia; and then set up a new office in Europe, maybe another outpost in France or Portugal, we don’t know where yet.

I think we have the right number of employees for small and medium scale projects. We partners want to get involved as much as possible with all the designs and we don’t want to sacrifice quality. That’s why we don’t want to get involved in huge shopping malls or huge residential programs. First because we’re not huge to begin with. It’s not the right way to develop T3. We don’t like projects involving too much air-conditioning. As much as possible we uphold the use of natural ventilation in the projects we take. 

Office Hierarchy

T3’s office is separated from the other design studios by wood panels. Huge glass panels front and back serve as windows, giving the team a calming view of the pond in the middle of the complex and lush greenery at the back.

How is the studio structured?

We have quite a horizontal structure: In the management committee we have 4 partners, 3 designers (2 Western, 1 Vietnamese who can speak the language and knows the country and its people) with 1 strategic partner to help us develop the company; he’s not an architect so we have a non-designer POV.

We involve all the employees in decision-making. We call it a “cooperative” in Europe where every employee gives his/her own opinion. We share our opinions together and take into consideration their opinions. We also share the benefits of the company. So if the company is doing well, the employees get bonuses.

So we can say that the studio is structured horizontally without extremely strict hierarchies?

Yes. That’s why we need the employees to be autonomous. Ones that we can trust 100%. 

Design Approach

The design studio is open and informal, discarding the usual office setting which incorporates cubicles and desks with drawers. In T3’s office, desks are shared by the employees, with only the desktop computers serving as “divisions” and open-shelving on the walls.

How would you describe your design approach in every project?

We focus on 4 fundamentals (in no particular order):

Harmony – We design bioclimatic architecture; people should feel good in the places they work and play. We aim for harmony with the environment. We design for and with the environment, not against it. We also aim for the harmony between the building and its user.

Creativity – Every project challenges us to be more creative to craft effective design solutions. We respect specialization of skills and often collaborate with artists and designers from various fields and genres.

Know-how – We want to promote collaboration with people who specialize in one thing. We try to extend our networks to always work with the best in the field.

Wellness – To create buildings that are safe and comfortable for people. We try to use natural materials as much as possible, and allow as much natural light in to make the people more comfortable, and so on.

READ MORE: Plants in architecture improve cities, says Vo Trong Nghia partner

As someone who’s worked in Vietnam for a while, can you pinpoint certain trends and issues prevalent in local Vietnamese contemporary architecture right now?

During the ‘60s to ‘70s, we have many nice buildings in South Vietnam, with double-skin facade, ventilation bricks, cement blocks, double roof, etc that clearly were built to adapt to the tropical climate. However, from the ‘80s until recently, the Vietnamese seemed to have forgetten their identity and started copying Western architecture they saw in magazines. They have lost their identity and did poor architecture that doesn’t adapt to the climate and way of living. There is some admirable progress however. Since 5 years ago, they started being proud of their identity and are now designing and crafting inventive, functional architecture that make use of a lot of local materials, and are more climatically-responsive and effective.


The offices in Family Garden are made with natural and sustainable materials, mostly of wood. Instead of full wood panels, however, they used wood in smaller proportions and installed them with equal spacing from each other, enough to let light and air pass through.
Plants, of course, are ever-present. Pictured here is the concrete walkway wrapped by a small tunnel-like structure of latticed wood strips.

What is your favorite material to work with?

We make use of local materials and local techniques as much as possible. Then if we have more choices, we prefer using low-carbon footprint materials. So instead of bricks which are more energy consuming, we use light concrete blocks, industrial blocks that are more efficient in terms of insulation and less polluting. We also use earthen, uncooked bricks sometimes if the project allows it, ventilation bricks, cement tiles and even water palm leaves for roofing.

I think wood is the best material for low carbon footprint. The problem however in Vietnam with wood is those that are good for construction are cut already or are used for luxury furniture. You also don’t know how the forest is managed and taken care of. So we usually had to import wood from foreign countries, mainly from New Zealand, where wood is properly treated and well-dried.

How do you convince your clients to go for environmentally-responsible projects, despite it being relatively costly?

It’s mainly a question of design, not of cost. We use exactly the same materials, and we ensure it doesn’t cost more. You can create environmentally-responsible projects with the same materials and derive green benefits if the architecture is designed well. We also go for cheap, local, and low-tech solutions, that are both sustainable and tied to context so the application and maintenance won’t be an issue to the inhabitants of our projects. 

More of T3 Architects’ portfolio at t3architects.com.