La Résidence de France – Lighting Case Study
• heritage • Indochina •colonial architecture •
The lighting at La Résidence de France in Ho Chi Minh City aims to emphasize the unique combination of French colonial architecture and Indochina style for a building that has stood the test of time.
Constructed around the same time as other popular landmarks in the city, such as the Saint-Joseph Major Seminary and the Reunification Palace, the residence is a mixture between a comfort of a dwelling with the solemnity of a symbolic building of authority.
Built by the engineers of the French Navy and used initially as the official hotel of the Superior Commander of the French troops in Cochinchina, the building became the residence of the High Commissioners of France during the Indochina War (1945-1954). Over its 150-year-history, the building has changed hands and functions many times. After the reunification in 1975, it was assigned to serve the French diplomats in Vietnam.
In the research of the building’s rich history, kobi team has executed a lighting case study to engender the illumination role of light to the residence’s distinct architecture.
Built on two floors, measuring 35 meters long, 15 meters high, and 17 meters wide, la Résidence de France is an imposing building in the continuity of the French architecture of the 19th century. Even though the building has many special features to spot on, still we avoid litting up every single detail uniformly. Lighting the exterior required design as complex as the architecture itself, it is necessary to restrain enough to highlight rather than muddy the individual features. For instance, the arch doors are highlighted to enhance the depth on the façade surface and create linear compositions of light. The lights are positioned to ensure they do not spill into any rooms, preserving the interior ambiance.
Moreover, façade lighting is designed to highlight the architectural features of the building and address the whole volume. Carefully balanced contrasts bring out the three-dimensionality of the façade in a vertical and subtle way. From a distance, the building is well balanced and evenly lit, while on approach it mesmerizes with its soft contrasts and details.
The technical challenges imposed by this structure are to eliminate glare and light trespass, while still highlighting distinct features and emphasizing the symmetrical geometry of the building, required a hierarchy of lighting that shows beautiful composition and balance.
The questions are posed,
- How to illuminate sumptuously a heritage & diplomatic building within a new modern city like Ho Chi Minh?
- How light would play a witness and expose the history of the two countries (France & Vietnam), thinking of future generations?
As we all know, France has a long history of creating memorable & influential historical buildings, such as the Palace of Versailles, the Elysée Palace, the Louvre Museum, and many more. Consulate General of France is today a witness abroad of French know-how and its architectural heritage. Illuminating the building would not only sublimate an already exceptional subject but also restore it to all its splendor.
Scope of lighting design: Façade lighting concept