This building houses the Raffles International College at 117 Nguyễn Văn Trỗi street in Ho Chi Minh City. This Raffles is a branch of the Raffles College of Design and Commerce based in Sydney, Australia.
The building is setback from the street on an interior lot blocked from the street by an older building. This is a practice that international building developers would not consider, but it is common in Saigon.
The colored films on selected windows add a design touch to the building, which otherwise would be a standard international style building.
My obsession with large cafés in HCMC continues -- I have now found the MOST beautiful cafe in Ho Chi Minh City, the LaDo Café. The location, however, is as far out of the inner city as it can get without going across the outer belt highway of QL 1A west of Saigon. The address is 101/18 Gò Dầu Street in the Tân Qúy ward of Tân Phú district. I am surprised Kevin at SaigonNezumi hasn't found it first since he spends a lot of time in that district.
The location is just too far out and hidden away, which is unfortunate because this truly is a modernist masterpiece in a beautiful garden. I am told the owner and designer is an architect, and I would love to talk with him someday.
I didn't have my camera with me on this visit, so some fuzzy old iPhone pics are going to have to cover the design for now. The occasion was an outing with friends from my office, which is what visits to cafés in Việt Nam are all about -- socializing.
We get by in a mixture of Vietnamese and English. The usual beverage of choice for women is a blended fruit drink.
Lado Cafe is one of the largest cafes I have been to, and it is unfortunate we were one of the only groups there on a Saturday afternoon. Given its out-of-the-way location, it is also much quieter than most cafes, and the music is played at at a reasonable level that allows good conversation. While we were there, a few Chistmas songs were played within the mix of western and Vietnamese tunes.
There are two garden sides split with a center pavilion.
Most seating is at the garden terraces.
The selection of plant material complements the architecture (or vice versa) very well and is very deliberate in how it is planted and maintained. There is nothing random to the choices and means of planting -- everything is selected to work together in a very pleasing composition.
The water in the pools is deliberately stagnant so that they have a beautiful green color. Yellow architectonic elements like walls and frames are used to unify the composition.
This will probably be the last post on this subject for the next two or three months. The site is empty now -- this past week, the pile testing contractor finished testing the third pile and then took away all the equipment and concrete blocks.
If you look closely, you can see the tops of the three .75-meter diameter concrete piers.
The evaluation of the test results will now either confirm the foundation design or require changes. Normally, it will take some time to sort all this out and then the pile contractor will show up with a couple of rigs and finish drilling all the piers.
Jon over at the blog It's the final word commented on last week's posting about construction that I "must be the only man in Saigon who actually enjoys having a large scale construction project behind his house..." Yes, it's true -- I enjoy having a construction project behind my house because I have a ringside seat for the day-to-day workings of a construction site. Architects don't get enough exposure to construction on the job -- I am learning some new things, particularly about construction methods common in Vietnam but not so common in America. The current construction activities are still fairly tame -- I might change my mind when the construction workers are staring in my window and blowing dust my way in a year or so.
This week the crane operator and rigging crew set up the third frame for testing the last concrete drilled pier.
This next week they will haul all of the frame materials and concrete blocks away, and the site will be quiet for a couple of months while the structural engineer evaluates the test results and the foundation contractor calculates the length of drilled piers required to complete the building and order materials accordingly.
All of the big concrete blocks that had been brought to the site were put to use this past week as the pile testing contractor set up a frame and piled the blocks on.
The frame was set up so that the center of the load of blocks came to bear on measuring equipment that recorded the load as well as the settlement of the concrete pier, if any. The load was maintained on the pile for four days.
There are three concrete piers to be tested -- the contractor is moving on to the second one today, unpiling all the blocks and resetting the frame over the second pile.