tram-anh nguyen's architectural proposal influenced by teachings of buddhist philosophy

tram-anh nguyen's architectural proposal influenced by teachings of buddhist philosophy

impermanent devices is a pluri-disciplinary design research platform addressing impermanence in design, founded and directed by tram-anh nguyen. one of the three characteristics of existence in buddhism is that of ‘anitya’, the belief that all that exists is transient. the objective of the platform is to provide a framework for designers to imagine and evaluate projects considering temporality, materiality, mutability, and aesthetics, through the lens of impermanence.


temporality/cyclical: within the buddhist understanding of time and cyclicality is the idea that all things have a renewable lifespan. each device is designed with regards to the present, but also in anticipation of how it should be adapted to future uses through an understanding of the past use. tram-anh nguyen’s impermanent devices consist of renewable lifespan projects that can be applied to different scales of design. materiality/renewable: with renewability at its core, impermanent devices’ approach to materiality is to minimize the overall cost of construction and assembly over the long term. the platform utilizes modular, flexible systems and common, everyday materials while incorporating contemporary technology and sustainability methods. the end goal of which is for materials used in construction to be repurposed or recycled easily at the end of the structure’s natural life.



mutability/transformable: embedded within the concept of impermanence is that of transience. as applied to design, devices are subject to change, either materially or through the perception of users. different states can be created through lighting, sounds, use of certain materials, or physical movement. a device or design can also be transformed to be applied in different contexts and scales. aesthetics/ephemeral: the aesthetics of impermanence is rooted in the concept of mono no aware (物の哀れ), a japanese design belief, part of which focuses on the appreciation of transient beauty. the devices appear, disappear, dissolve, and evolve from one moment to the next and change at the same pace as the site’s function demands. unlike conventional architecture, they are not an end in themselves but encourage continual change and refinement.



the BHD star cineplex commissioned impermanent devices, in collaboration with markus von dellinghausen of superpose and johanna gebhard, previously a color/material/concept designer from adidas, to design the façade, interior and roof top of their first flagship cinema in the center of hanoi. the proposal gives the flagship cinema a design element that is both iconic and functional through addition of a multipurpose façade, which is designed to be used as a plane of communication between the city and the structure through projections and lighting installation. the design of the screen also serves as an anchor back to traditional vietnamese elements and roots it in the historic location of central hanoi. this is achieved through use of patterns found in vietnamese weaving or through use of materials relating to vietnam’s history and incorporating them in a modern way.



the interior features an imagined space abandoning the traditional movie theater experience to serve as meeting place and cultural venue, the project is currently awaiting it’s construction permit. the tower of winds, örebro, sweden, competition project in 2015, in collaboration with markus von dellinghausen, midori hasuike, and andreas nordstrom of superpose, demonstrated the potential of this approach with it’s modular façade system made from parts easily assembled at a manufacturing facility. the design minimized labor and cost of on site construction as well as transportation. whilst being economical and replicable, it also carefully incorporates local resources and regional identity and resources creating a structure that reimagines the concrete, immovable form of a reservoir as a structure with the fluidity and lightness of water in movement.



the périphérique project focused on the ‘périphérique’, a major urban ring road which segregates the inner city from the outer suburbs in paris. a series of structures were proposed to create usable spaces of connectivity and community at points along the road, which otherwise exists a plane of separation. ‘impermanent devices was born in 2014 starting as a theoretical urban planning project in paris, a result of an awakening experience with architecture and time in japan.’ impermanent devices founder tram-anh nguyen explains. ‘it has now transformed into a pluri-disciplinary design research platform, inviting designers in different fields to collaborate, exchange and materialized projects that span across disciplines, through the lens of impermanence. impermanent devices believe in the synergetic design process that encourages sustainable methodology and foster relationships between living entities.’



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: lynn chaya | designboom

  • impermanence…..onsite renewal…….yes……great design principle applicable to all movements of energy…..

    andrew tzannes says:

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