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‘Stay Comfortable, Keep Safe’ Concept Wins Housing Design Competition in Vietnam

Jointly organized by Siam Cement Group and HFH Vietnam, the contest attracted 26 entries featuring sustainable, disaster-resilient and low-cost designs


vietnam_design_april2013_web.jpg(Above) Six designs made it to the finals. (Below) The judges and finalists with their prizes at a ceremony held in Ho Chi Minh City.

HO CHI MINH CITY (April 17, 2013) — Seeing is believing in the case of architecture students who won a housing design competition organized by Thailand’s Siam Cement Group (SCG) and Habitat for Humanity Vietnam.

Tran Truong Thuy Nhi and Nguyen Hong Qun from the winning team, 14A1, from Van Lang University, told local media that they were moved after seeing the difficult living conditions of the people after a trip to a floating market in Can Tho city in the Mekong Delta.

“We wanted to create a shelter to ensure that people were comfortable in the dry season and safe in the flood season while preserving the unique culture of the Mekong Delta,” said Tran. The simple, sustainable design has a modest cost of 100 million Vietnamese dong (US$4,800)

The competition, “Sustainable Shelter in an Age of Climate Change and Disasters”, was launched in November 2012 and attracted 26 entries from Vietnamese university students. The designs were judged for their sustainability, disaster-resiliency and cost-effectiveness. Six finalists were selected and advised by the judges to refine their designs before the final round of presentation.

The winning team’s design will be used by HFH Vietnam to build an actual house in June. Tran is glad to be able to help people in disaster-prone areas have a better life.

Vietnam is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world with around 70 percent of its population vulnerable to typhoons, torrential storms and flooding.

Sattawat Thitaram, country director of SCG Building Materials – Vietnam, was impressed by the winning design which effectively used locally sourced and appropriate building materials, was simple and easy to build and did not cost more than 100 million Vietnamese dong (about US$4,735). He said: “Through this competition, we witnessed that the students could use building materials appropriately and creatively.”

Excited over the collaboration with SCG, Kelly Koch, country director of HFH Vietnam, also saw benefits in raising public awareness about climate change and inspiring creative yet practical housing solutions for low-income families. Koch encouraged the contestants: “We hope this experience will prompt them to consider this focused housing need in their future careers.”

The winning design, entitled “Houses in Floating Market”, features environmentally friendly materials and is suitable for people living by the river. The team, 14A1, wins 24 million Vietnamese dong (about US$1,200) and a return trip to Thailand in May.

While Tran and her team-mate are in Thailand, they will visit the Architects Fair 2013. They will also check out a house built by HFH Thailand based on the winning design in a similar competition organized earlier by SCG and Habitat.

Three other prizes were also awarded when the winner was announced at a ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City on April 10. The second prize of 12 million Vietnamese dong went to another team, TKD, from Van Lang University. Their design features walls which can be flipped to increase a family’s living space in times of flooding.

Two consolation prizes, each at four million Vietnamese dong, were given to the DMT team (Van Lang University and University of Architecture) and the Nhom (Group 3) team (University of Architecture). DMT designed a house to optimize natural light, ventilation and reduce heat. Nhom’s floating house is made of light corrugated iron and local materials.

Habitat for Humanity Vietnam began operations in 2001 in Danang in the central coastal region of the country. HFH Vietnam’s programs cover construction of new houses, access to clean water and safe sanitation facilities, house repairs or upgrades and assistance with obtaining secure tenure and technical support. HFH Vietnam has also launched disaster response projects in Ha Tinh, Dong Thap and Quang Nam provinces.

Find out more on HFH Vietnam’s website.