The Kaleidoscope is the living and working building located at a factory site in central Vietnam. The surrounding region is known for its severe climate: a hot wind blows throughout the dry season and typhoons and floods during the rainy season. The building is placed between the hill and the sea, and frames a series of diverse—kaleidoscopic—views in directions and times. The project aims at creating a protected space from the harsh tropical climate, and enhancing the user’s contact with nature through various architectural devices.
The building provides both houses and offices for the users. Under a large conical roof resembling a “non la”, a traditional farmer’s hat of Vietnam, various functions are organized by seven triangular volumes that defines private and common spaces. The inside of the volumes accommodates closed functions such as bedrooms and private offices, while the space between the volumes holds gathering functions such as the central office and parlors. The cavernous quality of the central office allows for constantly changing natural light and ventilation conditions throughout the space. Custom precast ventilation blocks compose the outer surfaces of the triangular volumes to provide privacy to the inner rooms. These fiber-reinforced concrete blocks have larger dimensions than usual, and match the grand scale of the surrounding backdrop.
The project was realized after a 5-year long process in an outlying region of Vietnam. The construction was carried out by a mixed team of experienced builders from Saigon, the largest city in Vietnam, and local “barely experienced” farmer-builders. The process was characterized by numerous moments of deliberate procedures and impromptu solutions. Not only does the project symbolize the client’s initiative, but it contributes to the evolution of the local workmanship and offering a window into the potential of rural construction.