The French lycée in Ho Chi Minh City has been designed as a living environment rather than a group of school buildings. In the osmosis achieved between the buildings and nature, the project offers an interesting example of the virtues of contemporary architectural design in tropical countries. We chose to organise the architecture into a network of building wings with their own patios, gardens, and courtyards. This decision made the ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ centres completely independent of each other. Nevertheless, the corridors play an essential role in the project’s architectural intention: they reinforce the connection to the exterior and allow permanent visual contact with the other parts of the school, creating perspectives and intersecting views. Their wide openings, punctuated by openwork wooden shutters, result in a type of ‘permeability’ between the outside and inside.

The environmental features we developed for this project are mainly bioclimatic. The buildings form a grid of landscaped patios and covered walkways that cool the air. All the walkways are open and ventilated naturally, thereby reducing the areas where air-conditioning is required. The buildings are arranged in such a way as to keep a large proportion of the façades open to receive natural light. Two main strategies were adopted to save energy. First, an envelope was created to protect the façades with natural wood screens, concrete awnings, and wooden shutters. Second, traditional materials and techniques were used in order to harness the country’s expertise, limit imports of special technical equipment, and to prioritize the use of locally available materials.

French high school for 900 students / AEFE
9 000 m²
Lycée Français International Marguerite-Duras
Duong 11, Long Thanh My, Quan 9,
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
+84 28 3725 2214
Photography credit: Daniel Moulinet

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