A 60-square-meter artist private gallery and studio has been recently transformed from a two-bedroom apartment located in a conventional high-rise building. The client is Trịnh Cung, a famous old painter who decided to return to his homeland after many years living abroad. The proposed design is based on three concepts.

Geometric order:
After removing existing partitions and furniture, the overall floor plan is revealed as a perfect square of 7-meter x 7-meter with three small rectangles at the edges which are provided with sufficient daylight. An underlying geometric order was initially realized: the big square is divided into four smaller ones, three of them are dedicated for the main gallery space while the kitchen and bathroom occupy the fourth one. The diagonal lines of the squares imply for the conceptual layout of the gallery partitions, which are parts of the whole geometric order. Meanwhile, the three small rectangles can be used for a variety of other necessary activities such as painting, meeting, relaxing and resting.

Motion and stability:
A typical gallery is usually designed as a stable space with fixed white walls where the paintings are hung on. However, with this small project, we sought a more experimental design solution. Six lockable rotating partitions are proposed instead of permanently fixed ones and arranged in the determined geometric order. The paintings are hung on the rotating partitions as well as the fixed boundary walls to create a dynamic and ever-changing gallery space which is adapted to both general display and themed exhibition layouts. The dynamic circulation and spatial flexibility may enrich the experience and emotions of visitors and also the painter, who himself surprises us by moving his wheeled easel around the space either at the designated studio area, a corner by the balcony, or right at the central spot.

Light and shadow:
The layout and materiality of the project are also inspired by the contrast of light and shadow in both painting and architecture. The spaces used for painting, meeting, relaxing and resting are located at the outer edges, which are bathed in vibrant sunlight during the day while the main gallery space is cooler and provided with spotlights. The openings under and above the partitions allow the indirect daylight entering the space without doing harm to the paintings. Furthermore, the smoothly white-painted partitions contrast with the timber floor underneath, the dark-grey walls as well as the roughly exposed concrete ceiling above; then all of them are combined together as a harmonious background for the play of light and shadow in the artist’s paintings.

Trịnh Cung’s Gallery and Studio exhibits some of the painter’s finest paintings and his incoming new works. This is also the intimate place where he meets with his relatives, friends and art-lovers. This space combined with the 84-year-old painter’s last works of art is considered as his lifetime heritage, just as he emotionally said at the first time we discussed about the project: “I would like to come back home and sleep with my paintings”.

2022

2022

Area: 60 square meter
Location: Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Materials: Laminated timber floor; exposed concrete ceiling; paint-finished walls; plaster-board curtains with integrated rotating steel frame; bathroom floor and wall ceramic tiling; MDF cabinetry and doors; oak wood furniture; fabric curtain
Appliances: INAX and Toto bathroom appliances; Toshiba air conditioners; MPE downlights.

Project Principal: Vinh Phuc Ta
Project Leader: Anh Tuan Pham
Design Participant: Ai Nhi Le
Design Advisor: Casa Yen Nguyen
Construction Manager: Van Kieu Pham
Site Assistant: Ngoc Phi Duong

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Sonmeo Nguyen Art Studio