MIA’s Straw Pavilion Keeps Nature at the Heart of Modernity
When tasked with designing an architectural event space, Vietnamese firm MIA Design Studio wanted to make something that highlighted the organic beauty of the spot with a modern flair. “When we first came to the site, we immediately felt the presence of nature here, of various plants and greenery, and the need to assert it throughout our design,” the team says.
“We decided to create a structure that can blend itself into its surrounding environment, the special features [are] all about the mixing, the lightness, the hiding, the penetration. The result is an organic structure just like straw sitting [in] the garden.”
Working from the belief that “straw is an image of memory, one that belongs to the Vietnamese countryside,” the MIA team, led by principal architect Nguyen Hoang Manh, constructed a framework reminiscent of a pile of straw collected after a summer’s harvest.
Nestled in a parkland in the Ho Chi Minh City suburb of Thủ Đức, the pavilion was commissioned by construction media company Ashui for their 2021 exhibition and awards ceremonies. To facilitate those needs, MIA Design Studio began with a wooden platform for presentations and then surrounded it with a metal grid structure, allowing them to strategically place wooden planks at perpendicular angles through the mesh.
That backdrop is situated across a stream from a large area for spectators, connected by a narrow wooden footbridge. At night, the Straw Pavilion is immersed in a glow of light, lit up at ground level by radiant bulbs. The lattice design gives the structure a kind of shapeshifting quality as observers change positions, with different angles providing adjusted perspectives. The see-through nature of the batten and mesh was intended to let the “straw” simultaneously stand out from and merge with the surrounding landscape of fruit and vegetable gardens.
“The straw is an entity that is able to completely blend itself into the natural context,” the architects explain. “Not parading around shapes as well as materials, we hope it is able to appear and disappear with time, with no direct interaction to the garden itself. In the most perspicuous way, this is a structure which does not damage the one existing, it blends in smoothly.”
For its thoughtful outdoor design, MIA was nominated for the 2021 Architecture Masterprize, and was a finalist for the 2021 Architizer A+ award.
MIA Design Studio got its start in Ho Chi Minh City in 2003. Now a firm employing over 50 architects, interior designers, and technicians, its guiding principles include a commitment to sustainability to “ensure that our actions and decisions today do not inhibit the opportunities of future generations.” They attempt to be efficient and moderate in their use of materials, energy, and development space.
As great admirers of the modernist movement, the company is known for their “formal simplicity, [and the] integration of interior and exterior into fluid spaces with special attention to the landscape and climate conditions of each project.”