To some the idea of a design firm in Portland, Oregon collaborating with a firm in Vietnam may seem odd. After all, what could or should the design culture of Portland contribute to a country with a rich culture like Vietnam?
Portland enjoys a certain status as a hub of sustainability and environmental consciousness. It’s a community often seen as keeping careful watch on how the built environment impacts the natural environment. We have a history of smart growth with careful consideration of design and development.
Portland-based Propel Studio is noted for its ability to develop relationships and conduct research, develop cultural understanding and deliver honest assessment even before a project begins.
Propel Partner, Tuan Vu talks about exporting Portland’s lessons learned in healthy growth to benefit countries like Vietnam who are experiencing high development rates. He’s concerned “about the impact of growth on the Vietnamese environment and culture for generations to come.”
Portland has been a resource for domestic cities and foreign countries alike through the Smart Cities educational series. It’s a city happy to help others learn from the successes and failure of their unique sensitivities.
Like Portland, Propel Studio is unique. They’ve become known as community collaborators. They carry a commitment to a shared vision; one that focuses on the environmental, economic and social sustainability of a community whether it’s in Portland, Oregon, Aridagawa, Japan or Hanoi, Vietnam.
According to Tuan Vu, a native of Vietnam and Partner at Propel Studio, a key to cross-cultural collaborations is to bring experience to the table, “but more importantly the design process. Our clients, the communities we work with must have ownership of the process as well as the design.” Tuan cautions that a successful collaboration comes out of “a process, not an output.”
He credits Propel Studio’s community engagement process for their history of domestic and international collaborations.
Tuan says, “The history of architecture shows great learning and collaboration over time. That’s still possible and necessary today.”