Hanoi-based practice, Le Studio Architects has finished a new information and pastoral centre for St Joseph Cathedral in Hanoi. Built in 1886 by the French colonial government, it is the oldest church in Hanoi and belongs to late 19th-century Neo-Gothic style.
The architect was tasked with building a new visitor centre across the street, including a reception area, a bookstore, and a gift shop. The design creates a dialogue between old and new by creating the contemporary visitor centre with steel and glass in stark contrast to the church building.
The design explores system of opposing by establishing duality and creating dialogue between the church and the new pavilion, by the play of solid and hollow. This effect is visible through the choice of materials, which seems to heighten the contrast between visible and hidden, given its transparency. It is an appropriate response, given the strong symbolism of the church and the architect’s desire to create a structure that touches the ground lightly and seems to float and appear transparent, almost disappearing by reflecting the church back to the street.
“A dialogue between the old and the new is inevitable, together with the religious spirit of the building. Furthermore, the dual characteristic of classical Catholicism needs to be amplified in this otherwise purely functional project, while refusing to repeat its inherent symbols,” Le Minh Hoang, founder of Le Studio Architects, told Design City.
Another stand-out feature of this pavilion is how the architects were able to retain the existing greenery on the site, and interweave it with the steel and glass pavilion. The trees sprung out of the roof through cut outs, adding to the symbolism present in the project, helping in creating shade and microclimate.
Minh Hoang continues, “The idea is to create a large "shade" by weaving a long canopy with the existing vegetation, minimising the physical appearance of the architectural structure, promoting the "negative" and "give wat" to maximise the existence of the "positive", which is the St Joseph Cathedral itself.”
The pavilion created here is simple, honest and polymorphic, inspired from the traditional northern architecture, which is embodied by large building structure and large canopy, emphasising linear continuity. The architectural vernacular is not easy to read but its response to the surrounding and Nature is evident. Through simple geometry, the architecture is non-apologetically contemporary and contextual, while respecting the historical context it is grounded in.
Name: hien pavilion
Architects: le studio architects (LSA)
Lead architect: le minh hoang
Design team: le minh hoang, pham van dung
Other Collaborators: tran anh duc
Location: hanoi, vietnam
Area: 235 sqm (2529 sqft)
Image: Hoang le photographer