GroupGSA appoints new Vietnam Studio Leader, Thien Duong – GroupGSA

Words by Lisa-Maree Carrigan

GroupGSA has appointed a new Studio Leader to run the Vietnam studio, based in Ho Chi Minh City, as it strengthens its global position in Southeast Asia.

Canadian Vietnamese-born, Thien Duong, will take the helm of the Vietnam studio, which will be bolstered by unprecedented access to more than 200 international urban design, architecture, landscape architecture and interior design experts across two counties.

GroupGSA currently has three studios in Australia, in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and one in Ho Chi Minh City.

Thien joins GroupGSA as a highly regarded, licensed Architect and Master Planner with 19 years experience working in Vietnam. He is also a Chartered Architect with the Royal Institute of British Architects having lived and worked in the United Kingdom and Canada prior to returning to Vietnam. He is a longstanding property expert who has been invited to chair numerous property awards in Vietnam.

As a member of the Board of Directors on the Vietnam Green Building Council, Thien is committed to championing sustainability and design innovation. His local insight and international experience will strengthen the studio’s design offering and project deliverables across Vietnam and Australia.

The industry veteran has spent the past 25 years overseeing developments from luxury resorts and high-end residential developments to schools and mixed-used commercial spaces.

Duong describes Vietnam as a “sleeping tiger” on the cusp of transformation and ripe with opportunity.

“If you look at its cities, Vietnam is about 10% developed compared to other Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia or even Thailand,” he said. “Vietnam has a growing middle class with a young, educated and very hard-working population.  Of the 100 million people in Vietnam, more than 74% are of working age.”

Thien said foreign investment is booming in Vietnam to take advantage of this.

“It’s a very exciting outlook and one that excites me,” he said. “Within our lifetime, with the enormous scale of developments required, I believe Vietnam is one of the places that needs culturally thoughtful architecture and innovative sustainable designs.”

GroupGSA Director Lisa-Maree Carrigan said the changes heralded an investment in growth and diversity for the firm as it strengthens  its capability as a global practice in Vietnam.

“With Thien leading our studio in Vietnam, we will realign our operations as a true global practice to leverage our global expertise in a new era of growth,” Carrigan said.

Since its arrival to Vietnam eight years ago, GroupGSA has amassed an impressive portfolio of large-scale, market-leading hotels and condominiums, as well as premium residential, hospitality and education design projects. It now employees more 50 staff at its Vietnam studio.

“It’s an exciting next-step for our practice that aims to enhance the collaboration and engagement of our global experts with local intelligence and nuance for the benefit of Vietnam projects,” Carrigan said.

Sam Tran has also re-joined GroupGSA as an Associate Director at the Vietnam studio. Sam trained as an architect at the firm’s Sydney studio in 2016-2018.

“Sam knew that we had a Vietnam studio and wanted to join a practice where he could rise and go back and make a positive contribution in his home country of Vietnam,” Carrigan said. “We are thrilled to announce Sam is returning to GroupGSA under the new leadership.”

We will also welcome back Martin Nguyen to lead our Landscape Architecture team, who has previously worked for GroupGSA in both Australia and Vietnam.

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Lisa-Maree Carrigan Author

Lisa-Maree is Director of Architecture & Urban Design globally at GroupGSA. She leads engagement of teams and clients through design collaboration and strategic direction

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