January 12, 2022
Nguyen Hai Long and Tran Thi Ngu Ngon, Tropical Space, Vietnam.


HOUSTON, TX - January 12, 2022 – Rice Design Alliance (RDA) announces Vietnamese firm Tropical Space as the 2022 Spotlight Award recipient. The award recognizes the work of exceptionally gifted national and international architects in the early stages of their professional career who have demonstrated design excellence and curiosity through their body of work. As part of their award, Tropical Space will present the annual Spotlight Lecture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, on Wednesday, February 23, at 5:30 p.m. CST, with a livestream component.*

“This year’s Spotlight committee was unanimous in our enthusiasm about selecting Tropical Space in support of the work of Nguyen Hai Long and Tran Thi Ngu Ngon. Having followed their work for some time, we were most drawn towards their spatial responses to local conditions and their active thinking around mitigation of the effects of climate change through the use of sustainable, cost- and energy-efficient materials. This is also the first time in RDA’s Spotlight history that a Vietnamese firm is recognized with the award, an important milestone of which I’m immensely proud, particularly for a city like Houston that owes so much to its Vietnamese community,” said RDA Executive Director Maria Nicanor.

Founded by architects Nguyen Hai Long and Tran Thi Ngu Ngon in 2011, Tropical Space is an architecture firm based in Ho Chi Minh city. The firm specializes in urban design, master planning, architecture, and landscape and interior design.

“Architecture in tropical climates is always associated with rain, sunlight, and wind. Inhabitants in a tropical area tend to be open with the idea of bringing nature into their accommodation. We’ve tried to create the living capacity where humans staying inside could share the environmental responsibility, along with the surrounding community. Through our work we’ve also delivered the inspiration of brickwork architecture through friendly, flexible, and adaptive design solutions in order to create values of architectural aesthetics and inspiring stories about local sustainability only by using that simple material,” said the firm's team.

The firm has received numerous awards and recognitions for their work, including the ARCASIA Award for Architecture 2019, Long An House, Single Residential Category, AAA19, Gold Prize; A+ Award 2019, Organicare Showroom, Showroom Category, People Choice Winner; ARCASIA Award for Architecture 2018, Terra Cotta Studio, Sustainability, Gold Prize; and the ARCASIA Award for Architecture 2018, LT House, Single Family Residential Projects, Honorable Mention, among  others.

The Spotlight Award was founded in 2009 under the leadership of Rice Architecture alumnus Lonnie Hoogeboom with the Harry K. and Albert K. Smith Professor of Architecture John J. Casbarian, Rice Architecture Professor Carlos Jiménez, and University of Houston Professor of Architecture Rafael Longoria, who form the core of the selection committee together with RDA Executive Director Maria Nicanor and Rice Architecture Dean Igor Marjanović.

Every year, the Spotlight Award Committee, formed by architects, academics, and design practitioners, convenes to consider local, national, and international architects. This year the selection committee also included Maggie Tsang, Rice Architecture Wortham Fellow, and Deepa Ramaswamy, Assistant Professor, History and Theory of Architecture and Urbanism, University of Houston, as part of the 2022 nomination process.

“Tropical Space is an intelligent, environmentally conscious, and locally rooted practice based in Vietnam. Projects such as Long An House, Organicare Showroom, and Terra Cotta Studio reveal innovations in typologies and material culture that upset accepted notions of what it means to design and work in dense contexts and humid environments. Tropical Space’s use of material, light, and scale quietly and carefully sets a precedence that cannot be ignored,” said Ramaswamy.

The Spotlight Award, which also carries a monetary prize, is by invitation only and is celebrating over ten years of selecting young, unconventional, and thought-provoking architectural practices from around the globe.

About RDA

Rice Design Alliance is the public programs and outreach arm of Rice Architecture. We curate public programs, architecture tours, design competitions and publications that communicate the importance of design in our everyday lives and its ability to make our lives better. We are based at and work from the Rice Architecture school as an advocacy group that believes that multidisciplinary and research-based design can improve our cities and the way we live in them. 
RDA was established within Rice Architecture in 1972 by the school's first dean, David Crane, together with alumni and other civic-minded community members who believed that quality design thinking should be available to all in our community and that Houston’s citizens – experts and non-experts alike – should feel empowered to act and transform our city through design.

*Seating is limited and registration is requiredA livestream link is available hereIn the event that circumstances surrounding Covid-19 prohibit an in-person lecture, this event will be presented virtually.