Spa people

Vo Trong Nghia

Founder, Vo Trong Nghia Architects

Architect Vo Trong Nghia is creating a floating bamboo spa on the Vietnamese island Phu Quoc.

The island, which is famous for its dense expanses of jungle, is a fitting location for Nghia who believes humans have become too disconnected from nature.

He says: “People think of human beings and nature as two separate things, but humans are just a small part of nature...

“In the very near future we have to become more green [in our design] – using things like green walls and roofs and environmental materials. Otherwise, we’ll all die very soon because of climate change, conflict and the misuse of technology.”

His latest project – Signature Spa – is part of a five-star hotel backed by the BIM Group, which is one of Vietnam’s leading private investment companies.

The main part of the spa comprises 12 arched bamboo podiums hovering above a small lake surrounded by mangrove trees, with glass walls providing views across the water. The podiums, which provide space for relaxation and consultation services, resemble hands clasped together and interwoven fingers. Where the frames meet, a skylight diffuses changing light into the space.

Two separate buildings house the treatment rooms and back of house facilities and are reached via a floating bridge

The combination of stone, glass and bamboo is designed to evoke “a reserved simplicity” and to reconnect visitors with nature.

The aim of the design is to provide a place of solace, where guests can immerse themselves in the lush mangrove reservoir while nestled inside the bamboo podiums.

Nghia adds: “With all our projects we look at the surrounding nature and see how we can harmonise with that. Spa buildings don’t have to be concrete, especially in tropical climates.”

A completion date for the project has not yet been released.

Nghia is best known for his intricate bamboo buildings. His work includes the Naman Retreat and Roc Von restaurant in Vietnam and a contribution to the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale – a meditation zone surrounded by plants.

He arrived at this nature-conscious mindset after taking up meditation. He and his staff meditate twice a day, and he’s attended five vipanassa courses, where you spend 10 days in silence and devote your time to meditation.

He says: “I think everyone – not only creative people – should refresh themselves in this way. It changes your way of observing the world and also changes your perspective.

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Company profile: Robert D. Henry Architects + Interiors
Robert D Henry Architects (RDH-Architects) was founded in 1990 in New York City by Bob Henry, known as the “sensuous architect of serenity.”
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