Our forthcoming book "Southern Vietnamese Modernist Architecture" presents examples of this architecture organized by the types of designs, rather than by architect or location. Many of these types are based upon features that mitigate the tropical climate in Vietnam, such as brise-soleil sun shading elements, or double-wall construction using exterior corridors or loggias. Our chapter on "Abstract Composition" features designs that present the exterior facade of the building upfront and use it as a backdrop for elements such as windows that are placed using artistic criteria in composing the design.
The modernist building constructed at Twenty Lý Tự Trọng Street in Ho Chi Minh City is part of the campus for the Trần Đại Nghĩa Specialist High School (originally École Taberd). It was designed by Vietnamese architect Huỳnh Kim Mãng at the same time in 1960 that he designed another portion of the campus along Hai Bà Trưng Street in Saigon. The street facade of this building is an outstanding example of abstract composition. The facade is composed of small windows arrayed on a flat plain wall. While the second-floor windows demonstrate a syncopated rhythm, the third floor is pure randomness. A few of these randomly-placed windows display random colors. The ground floor facade features a fabric-like color-striped pattern which also shows some randomness in the offset included in the wall. This design has gone to great lengths to conform somewhat to the internal functions of the building, but the real intention here is the abstract intellectual composition.
The architectural photography by Alexandre Garel presents this building beautifully. Photo © 2019 by Alexandre Garel.