Energy efficiency, Japanese design and an emphasis on low site impact are combined at DOJO Saigon, a new light-filled judo training hall in Ho Chi Minh City. Designed by Southeast Asian design firm T3 Architects, the building has a unique, international character thanks to its design modeled after traditional Japanese dojos and its location in the garden of an old French-style villa in Vietnam’s largest and most populous city. Sustainable principles guided the design from the start, from the careful building placement informed by passive solar considerations and preservation of existing trees to the use of double glazing and a rice husk-insulated roof for low energy consumption.

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dojo interior with pitched roof

Completed this year, the DOJO Saigon is an extension of an existing villa that houses new changing rooms, office space and co-working areas for judo practitioners. Oriented to follow the main circulation through the existing building, the new dojo is also carefully placed to minimize site impact and to optimize access to natural light. All existing trees were kept intact; the preserved mature trees not only provide shade to the building but also help with managing stormwater runoff, a major problem in the flood-prone area.

Related: Sustainable Central Park with energy-producing trees unveiled for Ho Chi Minh City

people practicing judo
person practicing judo

To keep cool air from leaking out of the air-conditioned building, the architects installed fully insulated walls as well as double glazing for all openings. The roof is insulated with rice husk, an ecological and affordable material that can be locally sourced.

fan on white ceiling with wood beams
roof covered in rice husk

“For the last but not least, taking in consideration the dynamic and changeable times we all live, the project has been designed to be dismountable (main structure, flooring, walls, tatami…) to provide the client with the option to move the whole building to another plot in case it is needed,” the architects added. “Putting together the sustainable principles comments above, the beauty of the practice of Judo, and the creative and functional design makes finally a meaningful project with a very competitive budget.”

+ T3 Architects

Photography by Hiroyuki Oki via T3 Architects

dojo glass doors opening to a courtyard