Rural based Architecture and traditional edifices play an important role in showcasing local heritage building and craftsmanship. It can also offer jobs and prospects outside of big cities particularly for the communities that might otherwise be left behind.
In Vietnam, architecture office 1+1>2 Architects - Chief Architect Hoang Thuc Hao has been involved in multiple community houses projects that have engaged country dwellers in the construction process and in other community growth activities. Additionally some of these projects serve as touristic attractions that highlight unique vernacular construction techniques.
According to 1+1>2, ““Country is the future of urban” in the sense of living slowly, green and sustainably. In most minority areas, people inherit their ancestral experience, building their own architecture. They hold enormous cultural reserves, contributing to the diversity of humankind. For the village inhabitants, the community house plays a nuclear role. It is arranged in the center and is easily accessible, thus enhancing their spiritual life and social cohesion.”
In their work, 1+1>2 have respected the unique cultural customs of each region they have built in. Since 2009, they have been involving the communities in the creation of the spaces in two ways: first, by receiving ideas from the members; second by helping them understand the benefits the centers might bring in facilitating social cohesion and promoting economic development.
Suoi Re Community House (2010) has a layered spatial structure. The front layer is an airy yard where outdoor activities can take place. The main living space is in the middle layer and contains two floors. Upstairs is a multi-functional space which can be used as a kindergarten, library and village meeting area. The ground floor encroaches on the depressed slope, avoiding the northeastern cold wind and collecting the southeast wind so that the house is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The back layer opens onto a wide patio attached to green grass and acts as a buffer space, facing up to the mountains and bamboo forests. Organic and locally available materials were used (soil, stone, bamboo, leaves).
For many generations, the Kinh and Muong have lived in harmony on the land of cultural interference. Therefore, the structure of the project has inherited the structure of traditional houses from the North of Vietnam but also has a traits of Muong stilt houses.
Ta Phin Community House (2012) functions as a place for handicraft products display, small libraries, information stations, meeting space, organizing clean tourism and agricultural training activities. The building's image is inspired by the traditional red scarf of the Dao women and the rhythm of the mountains.
The house is built of eco- friendly materials like stone, unburnt bricks, recycled wood, and pine wood. It is also a multi-purpose community house and includes a medicinal plant conservation garden. In it, we applied green and energy-saving architectural solutions such as rainwater filtration technology, solar cells, 5-chamber septic tank without pollution, energy-saving fireplace and made use of excess heat of the chimneys.
Cam Thanh Community House (2015) is both a place for training in responding to climate change and a space for cultural and sports activities. On the long term, this will be an organic agricultural testing center, a research organization and a space for shared farming experience.
The main building functions as a meeting, exhibition and events hall. A smaller space forms a library with classes for children. With a movable partition system, the space is easy to change into larger or smaller areas depending on the user’s needs. The building is a typical image of rural central Vietnam with vertical areca forests. Vines spread across the areca trunks, combining effective roof structure against storms and winds, forming a double crust and significantly reducing solar radiation, and creating vivid shade.
The courtyard is similar to the Hoi An ancient house in its convection ventilation. Large roofs slope into the hopper to collect rainwater, partly leading to the water tank for domestic use, irrigation, placing the wind head, reducing the wind temperature; the rest is reused for toilets.
Nam Dam Community House (2017) plays an important role for the village. It is the center of information and community activities. It has innovational architecture with the 80cm thick rammed earth walls integrated with modern materials. The first floor has a communal living space and 2 comfortable rooms for guests. The second floor has 3 bedrooms. Spaces are connected, front-back, top-bottom by corridors and voids with daylight catching panels.
Sloped, innovated-fold roof system symbolizes the swallow bird or the rhythm of mountains (swallows often build their nest under the roof. Local people think that the swallow will bring good luck). The sloped roof also lets in more natural light and optimizes the view onto huge green fields.
Chieng Yen Community House (2015) serves as an information center where people can meet, exchange, and organize events and social activities. They also host interesting attractions to contribute to tourism development. Inspired by the headscarf of local ethnic minorities and the traditional form of a stilt house, the image of the building is in harmony with the mountains and waterfalls landscape.
Community houses that are built on a combination of social resources, completed primarily by local workers and materials, are the essence of a long process of indigenous, cultural, economic, and human research in this area.
Throughout these projects, the architects remain true to their philosophy of ““Happiness architecture 1+1>2” for the communities. “1+1>2” philosophy is bringing together architects with vernacular core values and community voices which in turn create works that are greater than the sum of each component.”
Note: This article was written in collaboration with 1+1>2 Architects. The quoted texts are specific descriptions for each project, sent by the architects. Find more reference projects in this My ArchDaily folder created by the author.