Nocenco Café: All Made Possible by Bamboo
Updated: Aug 28
On the seventh floor of a building in the Vietnamese city of Vinh, VTN Architects (VTN) built a curved bamboo roof combining Gothic and Vietnamese styles for Nocenco Café.
The architects of VTN built the roof over Nocenco Café, out of bamboo. From the top of the building, one has a great view over the surrounding low-rise houses, towards the river, magnificent forests-cape and various aged buildings.
The buildings in this area were damaged by the Vietnam War. Most of them were also renovated with colonial style facades inspired by European designs. Nowadays, regardless of their height, some of the buildings still imitated this kind of the facade style. The client required VTN Architects not to change the envelope of the existing building, but to create a unique and attractive addition that changed the building into an icon of the city. The challenge was to create an impact on the building by inserting a new structure with unique and local material.
After studying several local materials such as brick, stone, etc., VTN Architects chose bamboo to work with. Through the firm’s experience, they knew bamboo was easy to access in this tropical climate, which reduces construction time and budget. The material’s light weight not only made it easy to be lifted up by a few workers and easily transported to the highest floor by a crane, but limited the weight the structure had to support.
Make no mistake, the key to the composition is bamboo. Bamboo was the star material, with a dome created by 25 pillars of bamboo bundles, interwoven and spiraling upwards to spread out in different layers and directions, creating a ribbed vault of multiple layers. At right angles to this central core are two asymmetrical arms, the roofs of which are given rhythm by 5 and 9 pairs of polycentric pointed arches, with cusps rising upwards to give the construction a solemn, elegant appearance. In this case, however, the arches are made up of a square bundle of no less than 42 canes of bamboo, which spread out fan-like in five different branches of united pairs. The purpose of this division is to reach the various points on the roof, taking advantage of the elastic capacity of the canes, which do not yield, terminating in a keystone at the top. The inclusion of struts permits the double curve required to create the spire, hallmark of the talented architects who designed it.
It is impressive to note that the joints were created entirely using ropes, so that the parts are not fixed together but turn on an impure hinge. The architects rejected the idea of creating a more secure connection using metal elements, which would be much more rigid, but also more subject to wear at contact points.
Lastly, to complete the roof over the remainder of the level, the spaces are covered with a soft, flowing vault obtained using pillars much lower than the others, creating a welcoming sense of comfort and giving the café local character.
There are 10 bamboo columns to hide the existing structure and 4 additional columns. These columns elegantly divide the space into different private areas. The cave-like space can never be experienced in its totality, but every place has a view to the surrounding city.
The enormous dome structure on the roof which is topped with a glazed oculus, can be recognized from any place in the city. The roof top club has created a special gathering space for all the inhabitants of Vinh city.
The dome and rectangular volumes on the rooftop fit in the existing L-shaped space. The rectangular volumes generate a framed view on the historical stadium, the mountains and the beautiful cityscape.
This bamboo project is part of VTN Architects Green Architecture strategy.
See more photos of Nocenco Café.
Also see Bamboo Architecture.