As cities become bigger and more populated over the coming decades, how they will be built will become more and more important. Will human well-being be placed behind continuous growth? Or will we build cities that actually take into account the people who live in them? 

In this documentary from director Nick Ahlmark, we’re introduced to Vo Trong Nghia, a Vietnamese green architect tackling these questions. Through the film, part of a series on Al Jazeera English called Rebel Architecture, we see a number of Nghia’s projects: a home with oak trees on its roof; affordable and sustainable homes for poor people in rural Vietnam — a country with a projected population of 100 million by 2020; and an entire green neighborhood in Ho Chi Minh City, where only 2.5 percent of the city is considered green space. 

“A rebellion is underway,” a narrator for the introduction to the film says, “led by a new breed of architect, that puts people before icons. Architects using the tools of their trade to restructure their surroundings and redefine their profession.” 

But Nghia doesn’t see himself as a rebel. “I feel that I’m just an ordinary person,” he says. “However, I enjoy living close to nature and I don’t know why more people can’t live that way.” View Ensia homepage