Terra Cotta Workshop / Tropical Space

Architects: Tropical Space
Area: 682 m²
Year: 2023
Photography: Trieu Chien
Engineer: Bach Ngoc Hoang
Province: Quang Nam
Country: Vietnam

The Terra Cotta Workshop, designed by Tropical Space in Quang Nam, Vietnam, integrates a renovated architecture around a two-decade-old brick kiln, forming the complex’s core. The new design preserves and emphasizes traditional craftsmanship activities through the strategic arrangement of space and material. The complex is divided into three main areas by two 5.4 m high brick walls, each tailored to enhance different interactions with the material of terra cotta, from crafting to viewing finished products. The design smartly uses natural elements like light and wind to facilitate the craftsmen’s work and visitor experience, achieving a seamless connection between the indoor spaces and the natural surroundings.

Terra cotta workshop / tropical space

The Terra Cotta Workshop comprises a series of spaces defined by brick constructions: two elongated folded walls and a circular wall that encircles the original brick kiln, which has been preserved for over twenty years and remains central to the new workshop.

Terra cotta workshop / tropical space

The routine of the craftsmen has remained unchanged since the original workshop’s inception. The new architecture emerged from detailed observations of natural elements and human interactions within the space—such as light, wind direction, and movement patterns—which informed the design of geometric spaces optimized for sculptural work.

The workshop is divided into three primary zones by two brick walls standing 5.4 meters high:

  • The experiential area for visitors is positioned along the outer brick wall. It is accessible via an outdoor walkway linking to the Terra Cotta Studio, where visitors can engage with clay, create personal souvenirs, and hear stories from the craftsmen.
  • The craftsmen’s working area is located along the riverbank, adjacent to the folded wall. This area features a rammed earth floor that maintains natural humidity and brick walls with cavities that connect the indoor environment with the outside.
  • Situated between these areas are a lengthy corridor and the main kiln space. Here, the ground is covered with crushed brick slag and remnants from the firing process, creating a unique surface that emits the sound of terra cotta underfoot. This pathway offers a full perspective of the crafting process, from raw materials to partially completed sculptures.

In addition to functional space division, the brick walls provide shade and direct airflow, and feature a series of low windows that control sunlight entry. These architectural elements do more than separate spaces; they create visual and spatial connections across the workshop, extending the view through eye-level openings to various workshop sections and the natural surroundings, including the garden and adjacent bamboo thickets.

Terra cotta workshop / tropical space

The circular wall encapsulates the old kiln and forms a simple, cohesive block. This design choice opens up new possibilities for showcasing unseen activities, such as loading the kiln, fueling the fire, and witnessing the transformative process of terra cotta from clay to finished products.

Terra cotta workshop / tropical space

The architecture of the Terra Cotta Workshop organically integrates with both the daily operations of the space and the broader environmental context, enhancing the overall functionality and aesthetic of the site.

Terra cotta workshop / tropical space
Project Gallery
Project Location

Address: Quang Nam, Vietnam

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