Amongst a modest collection of ageing, nondescript, reinforced concrete structures and mix of neo-classical and Romanesque traces of French colonial rule, a bifurcated aluminium cuboid stands out distinctly from amongst its surroundings. The building’s ambition to be recognised as a modern development in Ho Chi Minh’s District 1 is clear – its reddish-brown aluminium panels contrast starkly with patinated white concrete, while its horizontally-striated facade of profiled louvres differentiate themselves from solid masonry.

Considered by architect Hans Brouwer to be a “boutique development”, President Place is a project of client David Clarkin of Sapphire Vietnam, an expanding property development company. The building comprises mainly of offices, but also includes a restaurant and sky garden. “The [client’s] brief was quite simple – maximise leasable area. There was little by way of form, material or style directives,” Brouwer explains. “Our goal was to create a building that would …

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