Local architectural firms build a bright future

Local architectural firms are trying to bring their work up to international standards, to better compete with foreign companies.

Nguyen Hoang Giang, CEO of Hoang Giang Construction Consultants - an independent

Nguyen Hoang Giang

architectural company which gained a flagship project to renovate Ho Chi Minh City’s Moevenpick Hotel, tells VIR about the flourishing architectural market.

What do you think about architecture in Vietnam and in Ho Chi Minh City in particular?

As Vietnam continues its process of integration into a global economy, the best practices of foreign construction, design, interior, project management and engineering companies increasingly becomes absorbed and adopted by Vietnamese consultants.

Certainly we live in a market that still has a lot to learn from some of the top architectural firms in the world and this essentially is why major projects in Ho Chi Minh City typically call upon consultants from abroad.

However, the market is changing and this is where we see opportunities for our own firm and firms like us, who bring a deeper and more solid understanding of local market conditions, or the socio-regulatory environment and of the ways in which companies in Vietnam operate from an end-user viewpoint.

It is also worth noting that in many cases, international firms work in cooperation with Vietnamese firms. This has short and long-term benefits for the projects and for the country. Obviously, the cooperation is good for business in the short-term, but more importantly, the long-term benefits to the local companies include skill-sharing and knowledge transfers.

So what should Vietnamese architectural firms do to enhance their presence?

Our own knowledge of Vietnamese construction laws, regulations, topography, environment, traditional customs and culture are crucial to the success of a consultancy. The transfer of knowledge to the market remains the most important thing that foreign companies have to offer.

As such, we work in partnership with a variety of international companies to ensure that we remain at the forefront of the field. Ideally, the best thing would be to actively search for overseas cooperation.

There are plenty of opportunities awaiting Vietnamese firms. It would be good if Vietnamese associations would organise more roadshows and economic forums where partnerships can be established.

What are the competitive advantages of Vietnamese architectural firms compared to foreign counterparts?

There are big advantages to “going local” for clients. Aside from cost, using local consultants typically gets a better understanding of the way in which Vietnamese owners of properties view their developments and the way in which Vietnamese people will ultimately use the sites.

There are also myriad linguistic and communicative issues that are better managed locally. Indeed, Vietnamese business culture is not easy and can be daunting for new players who are not yet accustomed to it.

How has Hoang Giang Construction Consultants adapted to customers’ increasing quality requirements?

In 2009, Hoang Giang Construction Consultants was honoured to be chosen to work on the renovation of the Moevenpick Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City’s Phu Nhuan district. This is an international hotel brand and one with justifiably exacting standards for branding, style and usability of space.

As such we invested heavily in the training of our team to ensure a thrilled client. Indeed, in the face of a global turndown that saw numerous construction projects frozen last year, Hoang Giang Construction Consultants actually doubled in size, as our work gained increasing recognition and as 2010 saw the economy rebound. We are strongly positioned to grow with the market.

This positioning saw major firms in England and Japan appoint us as a preferred partner in this market and this is something of which we are particularly proud.

Last year, my profession has led me to Germany, Spain and an assortment of other countries to study the architectural past, present and future in some of the most exciting cities on the planet.

What are your expectations for the development of Hoang Giang for the next few years?

Our target is simple, we want to be involved in bigger and bigger construction developments in Ho Chi Minh City. In terms of industry focus, we will continue to see a focus on green developments that minimise environmental impacts and that concentrate on technologies that save energy, and make buildings smarter, which not only are better for the world we live in, but that bring long-term savings to buildings with their running costs.

vir (vir.com.vn)