Saigon Gateway is an investigation into place-making in a tall building. One particular challenge of a high-rise building is that there is so much repetition, because of the necessities of construction and economics.
In Ho Chi Minh City, we’ve found most residents live within a cognitive map of the city. Directions are typically in the form of visual, tangible reference points: “turn left at the red building, go two blocks, turn right before you get to the supermarket.” The city in abstract, the city as town planners see it, is not a part of everyday life. You never see taxi drivers and xe om drivers with a map.
The Gateway design is taking one space in the building, which is not necessarily considered, the corridor, and trying to create a sense of place in a cognitive way, because we believe that's how most people in this context understand their environment.
In this 21-storey apartment building, the corridors are banded in three-floor sections. When the elevator door opens, there are differently scaled spaces, are different forms on the walls, different lighting, colors and materials.
What we've tried through a very banal piece of the building to create a cognitive sense of place, rather than a geometric one. It's no longer just the floor number, it’s a visual and spatial relationship between you and the place that you live in a tall building.