Farming Kindergarten: Vo Trong Nghia Architects’ Solution to Rapid Urbanisation in Vietnam

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Samuel Nguma

Samuel Nguma is an Editor for Archute. He enjoys taking long walks and reading short stories. He is an ardent lover of architecture which he studied at the University of Nairobi.
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Vietnam, traditionally a farming nation, is undergoing significant shifts as it transitions to an economy centered on manufacturing. This shift places heavy burdens on the environment. Rising incidences of drought, flooding and salinization pose threats to the availability of food, and the abundance of motorbikes has led to regular traffic bottlenecks and increased air contamination in urban areas. The speeding pace of urbanization deprives Vietnamese youth of access to green spaces and playgrounds, potentially stifling critical connections with the natural world.

Farming Kindergarten was taken as a challenge by Vo Trong Nghia Architects to counter these issues. Located next to a big shoe factory, and designed for 500 children of the factory’s workers, the building is conceived as a continuous green roof, providing a food and agriculture experience to children, as well as an extensive playground open to the sky.

The green roof is a triple-ring shape drawn with a single stroke, encircling three courtyards inside that serve as safe playgrounds. Recently, an experimental vegetable garden was realized on its top. Five different vegetables are planted in a 200 sqm garden for agriculture education.

All programmatic requirements are accommodated under this roof. As the roof lowers to the courtyard it provides access to the upper levels and vegetable gardens on top – the place where children learn the importance of agriculture and get the opportunity to connect with nature.

Sustainability Manoeuvres

The building is made of a continuous narrow functional strip with both its sides fitted with operable windows that maximize cross ventilation and natural lighting. The architectural and mechanical energy-saving methods that are comprehensively applied include: the use of a green roof as insulation, application of a green façade as shading, solar water heating and grey-water recycling. These devices are designed visibly and play an important role in the children’s sustainable education.

Construction Costs

The building is designed for low-income factory workers’ children and therefore its construction budget was quite limited. The combination of local materials and low-tech construction methods were applied and went a long way to minimize the environmental impact as well as promote local industry. Thanks to simple rigid frame with economical materials, the construction cost per one square meter was kept at around 500 USD including finishes and equipment, which is competitively cheap even within the Vietnamese built environment market.

If you're intrigued by cutting-edge architectural sensations that blend seamlessly with the environment, check out Son La Restaurant in Vietnam.

Project Information
Architect: Vo Trong Nghia Architects
Location: Biên Hòa, Dong Nai, Vietnam
Client: Pou Chen Vietnam
Design Team: Vo Trong Nghia, Takashi Niwa, Masaaki Iwamoto, Tran Thi Hang, Kuniko Onishi
Green Building Consultant: Melissa Merryweather
Contractor: Wind and Water House JSC
Area: 3 800 sqm
Status: Completed, 2013
Photographs: Hiroyuki Oki, Gremsy, Vo Trong Nghia Architects

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About the author

Samuel Nguma

Samuel Nguma is an Editor for Archute. He enjoys taking long walks and reading short stories. He is an ardent lover of architecture which he studied at the University of Nairobi.
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