Hẻm S à i G ò n
Understanding the traditional Vietnamese hyper-dense lane way culture in a time of rapid change THESIS PROJECT FALL 2017 Rosa Bui Aarhus School of Architecture Studio 2A Fall 2017 Tutor: Carolina Dayer
ABSTRACT This thesis paper discusses the on-going process of transition in Saigon, Vietnam. The urban fabric used to be characterized by small-scale settlements, the informal one’s called hẻm. However, since the liberal opening of the country, rapid urbanization and growing prosperity is bringing along a massive demolition of the built environment as well as jeopardizing the existence of the traditional hẻms to make space for modern apartment towers, malls and offices. In this paper, I am going to analyse the hẻm typology in terms of culture, spatial qualities and programmatic layout
throughout the day. These insights help to emphasize the unique local qualities, but on the other side to discuss the concerns and handicaps of those areas. Furthermore, the extreme tropical climate and the environmental pollution in the 8 million city are matters that need to be taken into account and impact designs. The starting point of the analysis is a neighbourhood in District 4, in close proximity to the international business district, but still largely characterized by the structure of the traditional settlements and endangered by current urban
In a case study, I will examine local housing typologies on site (the tube house and the hẻm house). The outcomes of the analyse inform the process of the design. The current situation demands a new approach and design strategy for residential buildings; making it possible to re-interpret the traditional hẻm structure, including all its qualities, hence being conscious of the needs and demands of a global-thinking society, rapid urban growth and pressing environmental challenges.
Socialist Republic of Vietnam Capital | Hanoi Area | 332,698 km2 Population | 94,569,072 (2016) Density | 207,03/km2
I. Introduction II. Context
1. Saigon in the making
2. Hẻm Culture 2.1 Day Diary 2.2. Negotiation of space 2.3. Shop owners and space 2.4. Street vendors and food 2.5. Qualities and concerns
12 14 17 18 20 23
3. Environment III. Site 1. Saigon 2. District 4 - Ward 12 2.1. Sun and Shadow 2.2. Building and street uses 2.3. Building condition and typology 2.4. Gentrification in the near future IV. Process
1. Hẻm house
24 29 31 32 34 36 38 42
2. Tube house 2.1. Ground Floor 2.2. Building Technique and fire walls 2.3. Shading and Air
45 47 48 50
3. Learning from Vietnam 3.1. Environmental strategies
V . Project
1. From urban scale to human scale 1.1. Program and residents
2. Learning from a tube house 2.1. Rhythm 2.2. Structure 2.3. Climate response 2.4. Facade 3. Learning from a hẻm 3.1. Public - private street level 3.2. Elevated street life 3.3. Maisonette apartments
63 65 66 69 70
VI . Reflection
75 77 79 81
Hẻm “A tangled network of narrow alleyways that host a great diversity of both social and economic activities throughout the day and night.”01
MOTIVATION It has been eight times now that I have been visiting my family and the city of Saigon in Vietnam and one thing has never changed: I found it both unbelievably stimulating and incredibly exhausting. Saigon, to me, means a complete traffic lock-up with buses, cycles, taxis, three wheelers, delivery bikes, vendor carts and whole families on their motorcycles mashed together in a smoky, beeping-honking-yammering mass. People are doing business and cooking pig meat over smoking fires on the sidewalk ignored by the whole scene. In the meantime someone is pulling my arm trying to sell me lotto tickets! Vietnam in contrast with a city like Aarhus is, in the most literal sense of the
word, in your face. Once, one leaves the endless bustle of the busy main roads, a tangled network of narrow alleyways awaits, which to me are Saigon’s most precious and obvious urban form, these are called: hẻms. Thousands of alleyways host a great diversity of both social and economic activities throughout the day and night. Getting lost by foot in the web of alleyways brings one into contact with friendly local people, great street food, intriguing architecture, and, best of all, local life. Learning and understanding this urban form of living is the my main goal for this semester.
a hẻm. It is interesting for me to see that for those who have managed to accomplish their goals, life entails more variety. While the older generation still prefers to spend time at home with their kids, the younger generation is getting ready to break with traditions. There is a new direction, a new sense of freedom among the young. Their world seems to have opened up. For them it is exciting to be able to participate in the mega-city’s new lifestyle. Yet, the street and its lifestyle’s perennity is being challenged by several issues - densification, suburbanisation and new models of urbanisation, which I am looking to address in this thesis project.
One part of my family from my mother’s side lives in 7
Ho Chi Minh City, (former „Saigon“) Districts | 19 + 5 Area | 2.096.56 km2 Population | 8.426.100 (2016) Density | 4000/km2
Population growth The population density of Saigon is 9300 persons per square kilometer. Since 1986 a series of political and economic reforms have transformed Vietnam from one of the poorest to one of the fastest growing in the world. With the establishment of many brands and new infrastructure, many people are moving in to Saigon from neighbouring places for better standard of living and this has resulted in a higher growth of population of the city.2 1995: 4.6 Million 2005: 5.9 Million 2017: 8.4 Million 2025:11.6 Million
SAIGON IN THE MAKING Rapid urbanisation
Ho Chi Minh City, commonly known as Saigon, is Vietnam’s biggest city and its centre of commerce. Its population of now 8.4 million is perpetually growing, demanding a considerable improvement in social services such as healthcare and education, as well as in urban planning, organisation, management and housing.
The city has experienced a rapid construction boom in the last 30 years: existing inhabited zones are getting infrastructure enhancements; new urbanised areas are being created; high rise development, and the adoption of western model of large footprint curtain wall towers are “popping up” everywhere, offering dwellings, offices, hospitals, schools, supermarkets, sport centres and
Rising rents cause families to move away or prevent individuals of diverse socioeconomic brackets to have access to affordable housing.
Gentrification is a global urban phenomenon whereby underdeveloped areas, like hẻms, are demolished or transformed. The process is often coupled with rising rents, the influx of multinational corporations, and in many cases, a shift in the social fabric of neighbourhoods.
Additionally, the social fabric is shifting among the younger generation that is getting ready to break with traditions. Contrary to the older generation, the contemporary man is living in a city with multitudes of choices and distractions.
Such citizen believes that he is in command of his own destiny.4 From the dichotomy between demolition of traditions and support towards new living trends, there seems to be a pressing need to reform the urban typologies for living, knowledge sharing, and profit making of the place that embrace the existing local culture in order to de-gentrify Saigon as it is today. Furthermore, Vietnam is a microcosm of a global cultural situation: the disappearing deeply human local culture and the quickly enveloping global one, which makes this thesis relevant beyond the context of Vietnam.
HẺM CULTURE My fascination with the city of Saigon is the coexistence of so many contrasts: the old and the new, the rich and the poor, the improvised and the envisioned. One clear opposing binary which coexist in Saigon is the explosion of high rise development that is in contrast with the amazing culture of tiny lanes which fill the gaps between major streets. Hẻms spatialise a rich sociable life and intense use of urban space. Away from the main roads, everyday life feels slower, calmer, relaxed and on a more human scale. All city noises disappear, as does all traffic. Hẻms are cooler and more quiet than the main roads, but it is full of life. The smell of fresh food makes Saigon hẻms very unique. Street vendors and shop owners are selling their local creations. They typically only serve one dish which can be enjoyed
while seated on a plastic stool.
You might observe families sitting flat on the house’s floor sharing meals, with their front door wide open. Some alleys are so narrow that the people who live in two opposite houses can actually talk to each other over the path, without leaving their homes. People live in such close proximity that there is an intimacy to hẻm life - a feeling that life is share with people sitting on the path playing board games; it is safe for children to play and run around. However, the traditional hẻm typology is jeopardized by the rapid urbanization and therefore demolition and renewal of Saigon. What kind of intervention can be developed in order to keep the unique hẻm culture in a time of gentrification and rapid urban growth?
2. Hẻm Culture
In Saigon’s hẻm
Buddhist exercises are the remnants of ancient traditions, intended to restore the vital energy in the body, some of which include: dancing, running, cycling and yoga. Dawn and dusk are the best times of the day with a well-balanced energy.
Starting at 6:00am, many of the local cafés begin to open and prepare the food for the day. Sometimes food preparation occurs between two façades, creating an efficient production line that involves mostly women of the older generation working together.
At 12:00 noon, the activities observed are mostly food orientated , with many businesses and schools being closed to allow for a two hour lunch break in order to avoid the hottest part of the day. In the area, the customers of the cafés and street food vendors are mostly men that worked or lived in the local area, whilst the waiting-on staff were all women. The street food vendors create their own personal spot for selling food, therefore creating a concrete spot “within urban grain”.
During 3:00pm, the kindergarten and school finish for the day. Other street food vendors are seen making the most of increase in traffic as the hẻms were filled with the sound of mopeds. It was observed that some street food vendors actually changed the products they sold based on what is appropriate during different times of the day.
When in the area during the late afternoon and early evening, one of the prominent things is the amount of children on the streets. Once they return home from school they take over the streets: eating, running, cycling, playing football and other more obscure games.
By 7:00pm, there are a lot of social activities happening.
Teenagers are hanging around chatting amongst themselves or helping their parents in the shops.
Again, food plays a vital part of the community lifestyle. Business men socialise over an evening meal and drinks, and street-food vendors are busy with customers. Whilst the majority of men seem relaxing, women are still very busy cleaning and tidying the shop fronts, which spill out on to the street, in preparation for the next day.
It can be concluded that the Vietnamese are very sociable people with a cohesive community network that is predominantly centred on food.
2. Hẻm Culture
Moving Participants: - Street vendors - Pedestrians - Motorcycles
Semi-Moving Participants: - Local businesses - Local shops - House owners - Plants - Tools
NEGOTIATION OF SPACE Unlike the Western context, where the streets are normally organized and structured, a hẻm is a fluid multi-functional public space. It is a street for
< Fig 1: Small footprint of Saigon
motorbikes, a pedestrian path, it is a trading area or it is a living room. The participants in a hẻm face a constant re-negotiation of their own space.
2. Háşťm Culture
SHOP OWNERS AND SPACE The heavy density of Vietnam urban life pressures people to do more with less. Shop owners and inhabitants extend their endeavours onto the pavement claiming a large proportion of it as their own. This way the public space becomes semi-public for
the pedestrians, as they have to traverse through the local vendors businesses which extend into the street. As a result, this blurs the boundaries between public and private living spaces and opens up a different way of implementing shops, living spaces
and services.5 Shops housed in dwellings often occupy spaces that become living and dining areas after closing. When the occupants retire to their sleeping loft, the shop area houses their motorcycles.
Háşťms are used as semi-public and semi-private space
2. Háşťm Culture
STREET VENDORS AND FOOD Street vending is an essential part of city life. Street vendors can be roughly divided into three types: those who constantly move around either by bike or foot, those have a stable stand on a street and lastly, those who own a shop and expand their products onto the pavement. They serve as an informal yet extremely important agent in the local economy.6 Local people who shop for fresh grocerires everyday can enjoy the luxury of having products delivered to their door. Another indispensable function street vendors offer is to provide a great variety of food 24/7 all year around which may alter with the rhythm of season. Mobile
2. Hẻm Culture
QUALITIES AND CONCERNS Values in a hẻm urban fabric
Blurring of inside and outside/ public and private space Density: social interactions and negotiations with ones fellow humans Combining of home and small commercial (shop house) Density: Shaded areas in a hẻm increase the liveability of a space immensely
Needs in a hẻm urban fabric Public Spaces
There is a need for more public space, for instance, to support the callisthenics, dance lessons, etc. that occur in Vietnam's parks at the pre-dawn and the post sun-down hours. The parks are packed at these times with people.
Tools and many obstacles are spread disorganized all over a hẻm. For instance, there is a need to accommodate hanging things, such as bags of vegetables, fruits, drinking straws etc.
A large multifunctional space that is always being used in one function or another as the day progresses (II.2.1.), is efficient and therefore sustainable.
Hẻm houses do not have enough natural light and people are suffering from all kinds of pollution.
ENVIRONMENT Saigon is facing pollution issues. From the blanketing smog, where Vietnam ranks amongst the top ten countries with the worst air pollution as the city continues to develop to modernise. Only 2.5% of Saigon is considered as green space. In the building and construction sector, a new movement of young Vietnamese architects are working towards a green and passively oriented approach. There is a push to use more locally sourced, sustainable and environmentally friendly resources developed with new technologies. Vietnamese architect Vo Trong Nhia is supporting this as he is quoted explaining, â€œGreen architecture helps people live harmoniously with nature and elevates human life by embracing the powers of the sun, wind and water into living space. If the current way of thinking does not change, sooner or later citizens will actually live in concrete jungles.â€?7 24
Traffic and pollution
Hong Kong 105.3 m2
Beijing 88.4 m2
Singapore 66.0 m2
Tokio 3.0 m2
Bangkok 3.3 m2
East Asian Average 66.2 m2
Green area in Saigon8: 0,7 m2/person
Saigon 0.7 m2
CLIMATE Tropical climate
Situated at the south of Vietnam, Saigon has both a wet and dry tropical climate. The year is divided up in to two seasons; rainy and dry which occur from May to November and December to April respectively. The rainy season features short but extremely heavy rain fall on a daily basis and is often referred to as the “monsoon season“. The bursts of rain clear up quickly which leads to higher humidity in this season. During the other half of the year which is the dry season the city sees barely any rain as the heat rises to averages of around 33°C.
The wind conditions in Saigon are generally aligned with the rainy period of the year with a average speed of 20mph and with the highest speed of 49mph occurring in early August. Around 36% of the wind, by far the largest and most concentrated proportion, blows north - west to south-east. Although the wind speed can get up to 49mph, the city is usually safe from major weather activities like earthquakes and typhoons.9 The tropical climate with its wind effects will inform the design process of the project and will be a parameter for spatial organisation.
30°C 100 mm
Wind rose in District 4
Saigon - District 4 Wards | 15 Area | 4 km2 Population | 183.261 (2016) Density | 46.000/km2 Average life expectancy | 74.1
Aligned tube houses
Is a traditional hẻm obsolete?
DISTRICT 4 - WARD 12 The focus is on an area which is densely populated and almost entirely residential. District 4 is changing everyday, a result of the rapid redevelopment currently occuring in Saigon. Typically, District 4 is characterised by its bustling and very
traditional Vietnamese street life. It is well known within the city and between residents for its large market and many road side restaurants which give the area a distinct atmosphere. The area is dominated by hẻms with their extremely small
streets and high “density” buildings.10 Due to its central location within Saigon, especially Ward 12, adjacent to District 1, is in process of redevelopment and will add another new skyline to the city. As a result Ward 12 exposes
extreme disharmony between different city zones: The heavy mega structures are inconsiderately located right next to the small old fabric of endangered hẻms which is why I choose this area as the site of my research.
^ Fig 2: View over District 4 to District 1
SUN AND SHADOW 08:00 AM In the morning most of the streets are shaded at this time of day due to the scale of the buildings and narrowness of the streets 12:00 AM At midday, the wider streets have been washed with sun which is at its highest point. The hẻms which come off of the streets are still shaded and remain in the shade all day long. 6:00 PM As the sun sets in the west the shadows cast over all the streets again. Unlike at the main streets, inside the hẻms it is much cooler due to the ultra dense neighborhood where most of the building walls are not in direct sun light and thus have not had the chance to heat up. These shaded areas in a hẻm increase the liveability of a space immensely.
2. District 4 - Ward 12
ub ed t
2. District 4 - Ward 12
BUILDING AND STREET USES
Front shop tube houses
Section through corporate buildings. They are not only much taller but also wider compared with the tube houses in section 1.
Section 5 34
Front shop tube houses
office cultural housing + local shop: food and drinks housing + local shop: business housing + shop
Front shop tube houses
Front shop tube houses
Private tube houses
2. District 4 - Ward 12
BUILDING CONDITION AND TYPOLOGY The neighbourhood of the hẻm houses is closely gridded with small alleys making the spaces of the buildings quite pleasant in contrast to the deep and dark spaces created by the tube house lots (the 4 metre by 20 metre lots the city was divided into during the early French colonial era when dwellings were taxed by frontage rather than area).
The condition of the buildings can be almost linked to their typology. Due to the economical situation, inhabitants of hẻm houses using little effort for building quality and only repair or renew things if it is really needed. Residents of tube houses are wealthier and want to show their status with their house.
Hẻm houses in bad condition
Tube houses in good condition 36
Good condition Bad condition
Đoàn Như Hài
Đoàn Như Hài
Nguyễn Tất Thành
Nguyễn Trường Tộ
2. District 4 - Ward 12
Dilemmas and site potentials After the original redevelopment in District 1, a future plan for District 4 has been proposed that will make the area more connected and accessible.11 The addition of primary roads will spread the intensity of the traffic, especially at rush hours in the morning and in the later afternoons. Also, existing roads, like “Hẻm 68” in the investigated area, will be developed and connected with new road systems.
Therefore, the hẻm houses on the site will soon be replaced with aligned tube houses. However, this situation can be an opportunity to design a new prototype to react against the gentrification of the hẻm fabric.
Fig 3: Masterplan by Sasaki Architects 38
Hẻm could be soon replaced by tube houses in a clean structure
Đoàn Như Hài
Đoàn Như Hài
Nguyễn Tất Thành
Nguyễn Trường Tộ
1. Hẻm House
HẺM HOUSE Hẻm houses are dense, low-rise buildings which typically have 2-4 floors. The construction and materiality of the house is often linked to climatic, economical and cultural factors and shows the owners social status.
The most common material for constructions is concrete which is cheap, easily attainable and responds well to the tropical climate. Concrete produces necessary thermal mass (with the walls being approximately 10-20 cm) that keeps the building as cool as possible. Metal meshes are used on windows and fencing to provide security. It also encourages shading and natural ventilation throughout the building. Colourfulness is a popular cladding feature. The colourful façades mimics and adds-to the spirit and character of the Vietnamese culture and society.
Metal Mesh Shading and security
Háşťm fabric Plaster model 1:500
2. Tube House
TUBE HOUSE Tube houses exemplifies iconic Vietnamese architecture and can be found all over the country. Usually, a house counts 3+ floors and is incredibly narrow and long (on site: average 4x 18m). The reason for this form of architectural design has to do with old taxation laws in the city. When Saigon started to develop, the laws were such that one
would be charged property tax only on the width of the front facade of the home. Each property has its own character which indicates the ownersâ€™ social status. As the ground floor is used for trade purposes it has more costly materials. The second, third and continuing floors are generally residential and houses normally all generation of one
family. The upper floors so ĂĽare normally less appealing as more attention is focused on the ground floor commercial units, as it is mostly seen by others passing by at eye level. This has to do with the cultural belief that many Vietnamese people hold, that materiality of buildings indicates the wealth and social power within.12
Garden & Altar
< Fig 4: Tube house faĂ§ades 45
Gates Shading and security 46
2. Tube House
GROUND FLOOR The gates are used to divide and separate the private and public spaces. Most are made of steel and are painted for easier maintenance. The gates are placed to give the inhabitants privacy, security as well as shading. The metal mesh material encourages ventilation throughout the building. Most gates are able to be fully opened, inviting the passer-by in. The space becomes an extension of the inside. This allows the owner to trade. Social activities take place with the neighbours. Gates are mostly designed with gliding systems that can be opened horizontally or vertically without interfering with parked motorbikes or other obstacles. 47
2. Tube House
BUILDING TECHNIQUE AND FIRE WALLS Building technique The current and most construction seen in District 4 are structures comprised of reinforced concrete with brick infill plastered finish walls. This is due to the simplicity of the overall structure as well as the inexpensive nature of local labour and materials.13 Fire walls The tube houses are separated by fire walls that prevent the spread of fire from one building to the next. The regulations pro-
hibit openings in the side of a building that adjoins another plot. However, if the building is kept back one meter from the property line, it is allowed to have openings in the walls. This can be one way to gain light and air into the centre of the tube houses. Unfortunately, this strategy is almost never used since it would require owners to give up a part of their floor area.
Cast in-situ concrete frame Concrete framed construction is widely used across Vietnam, where cheap materials and labour make it more economical than steel alternatives. Hollow brick infill The clay hollow brick are structurally stable due to the â€œcell-likeâ€? structure that gives it strength. The grooves or ribs found on the side of the bricks help mortar, plaster or stucco adhere to the surface. Steel reinforcement The tall and narrow stature of the Vietnamese tube houses require structural reinforcement as a result of its tall thus load bearing from. Thin-set mortar The exterior finish is fixed to the mass concrete wall using a thin-set process. External finish The most common finishes across District 4 are either an applied render (plaster/stucco) or some sort of tiled or veneered finish.
2. Tube House
SHADING AND AIR 1 - Deep balconies Vietnamese tube houses are built with deep balconies to reduce radiant heat gain while providing space for drying clothes and growing plants. 2 - Brise Soleil Providing shade was one of the main things to do, the so called Brise Soleil (sun breaker). In Vietnamese vernacular building tradition, window grills made from bamboo were used to provide shade. Throughout
the different architectural styles and periods, there were always reinterpretations of the Brise Solei , like ornamental metal screens. They provide the needed flexibility between openness for daylight and ventilation by adding privacy when needed in multiple family housing projects.14
effectâ€?. These stairs also bring natural light into the centre of the house, reducing the need for artificial lighting. 4 - Ventilation wholes Ventilation wholes on the backside of the buildings encourage cross ventilation.
3 - Air and light shaft There is the use of central stair cores as devices to promotes natural ventilation through the â€œstack
Typical section tube house
Air and light Shafts
Stacking Green Vo Trong Ngia Architects Saigon, Vietnam 2014 The front and back faรงades are entirely composed of layers of concrete planters cantilevered from the two side walls. The green facade and roof top garden protect its inhabitants from the direct sunlight, street noise and pollution.15 52
LEARNING FROM VIETNAM Social engagement and climate-adapted constructions are central topics in the Vietnamese architectural discourse. Young architects are addressing social and environmental policy problems, developing design-based solutions with local resources, and in doing so, are distancing themselves from iconic star-architecture.
< ^ Fig 5: Stacking Green
â€œIf we succeed in developing a truly green architecture today and in the future, we can multiply the green space of cities and create a new harmony between architecture and nature: we need houses for people and for plants.â€?16 Vo Trong Nhia. In the context of Vietnamâ€™s rapid population growth and disappearing green spaces, Nghia is defend-
ing the need for open spaces, trying to bring much-needed greenery to the concrete, glass and steel that dominates the cityscapes. His buildings incorporate plants and trees, and include design elements such as natural air flow ventilation in the place of costly and environmentally damaging air conditioning.
3. Learning from Vietnam
ENVIRONMENTAL STRATEGIES Passive Lightning
Due to its geographical location, Saigon has great access to an abundant source of natural daylight.
Evaporative Cooling is an energy efficient and passive alternative to mechanical cooling that makes the environment more comfortable to inhabit. This system requires simply the addition of water or moisture for cooling the living spaces. If green rooftops are watered, evaporation cools the roof surface, encouraging the dispersal of any internal heat into the atmosphere.
Saigon is exposed to plenty of solar radiation, which, if not handed carefully, can easily exacerbate the thermal stress on the buildings occupants.
Natural ventilation, as traditionally employed in the area, is an excellent alternative to reduce dependence on mechanical cooling, thus reducing the buildings overall energy consumption, to achieve thermal comfort and to maintain a desirable indoor environment.
To take advantage of this, internal surfaces are generally covered in light reflective tones that allows daylight to enter deep into the building. Vertical voids like skylights and open courtyards are an effective solution to get daylight deep into the building from above, as much of the available light is blocked by neighbouring buildings to the sides and rear. These passive lighting techniques reduce the occupants reliance on artificial light and thus the amount of energy consumed.
Also, as plant leaves lose moisture through their pores, the surrounding air around the leaf is cooled. Vegetation needs to be strategically planted in the path of cross breezes so that cooled and humidified air can be distributed throughout the building.
Sun-shading devices provide the most efficient performance, while remaining competitively cost effective. Vertical fins, horizontal overhangs and egg crates are commonly employed as sun shading devices across District 4.
Single sided and cross ventilation is a dominant ventilation technique that occurs when indoor and outdoor temperature differentials and wind movement are present and the simple act of opening operable windows and doors is sufficient enough to cool interior spaces.17
B House i. House Architects Saigon, Vietnam 2014 The open but introverted space in the middle of the house provides natural lightning and ventilation and reduces the dependence on artificial energy. The double facade filters the sun light and noise and ensures security for the house. In between the double-skin are spaces interspersed with green trees to filter dust and reduce heat and noise.18 < ^ Fig 6: B House
â€œLocal specificities start with the understanding of the local climate, and may extend to the way of life, the value systems, the histories, the politics and the religion of a region. The particulars also include the available local building techniques, the available human resources and the lives of the end users.â€?19 - Tran, H., HTA + Pizzini Architects (2015)
Big roads with high towers
Straight streets with aligned tube houses endanger the háşťms.
Háşťm soon to be replaced Possible application of new prototype District 4 - Infrastructure
FROM URBAN SCALE TO HUMAN SCALE A prototype Densification “True density forces connections with other human beings in a way that promotes community building.”20 - Archie Pizzini Saigon is certainly in need of more housing units in order to maintain the population growth.
flip the hẻm culture vertically into a tower in order to provide more living area. A hẻm is an alleyway rooted on the street level and its life and intimacy would become lost by demolishing its horizontal infrastructure.
However, it is negligent to
Even though the Vietnamese tube houses are a good way to reduce the footprint of the area, they
High rise Small footprint Lost of hẻm
Medium rise Medium footprint Almost lost of hẻm
still endanger the unique hẻm culture. Due to the strict fire wall regulations (IV. 2.2.) the intimate connection to the adjacent neighbours is being lost. The thesis project investigates a new urban form that combines the scale of the tube houses with the DNA of a hẻm.
Street creation As part of the densification process of Saigon, hẻms are increasingly being replaced by straight streets for a better infrastructure (III. 2.4.). Therefore, the new proposal acts as a prototype to create a new street while maintaining the scale and character of a hẻm.
Low rise Big footprint hẻm 59
Háşťm houses Tube houses
Tube house Rhythm of footprint Building structure Climate response Facade
Háşťm house Human scale Blurring of inside and outside / public and private space Density: social interactions and negotiations with ones fellow humans Density: shaded areas Combining of home and small commercial (shop house)
1. From urban scale to human scale 1.1.
PROGRAM AND RESIDENTS Demolition According to the latest masterplan of District 4, the existing street will be further developed and connected with the main street system. For this process, at least 13 hẻm houses will be demolished. Hybrid The new project is a combination of the structural and environmental aspects of tube houses and the social character of the hẻm. This new typology emphasizes the qualities of the hẻm but also faces the issues such as space and storage problems and the lack of natural light, natural ventilation and greenery. Additionally, it reacts to the population growth in Saigon and adds new apartments to the site which increases the density of the area to 180%.
Program 1 - New street The new intervention connects the surrounding hẻms with an additional street that can be used as a multi-purpose space.
Split level apartments Shop house elevated
Shop house ground floor
2 - Street food market The inhabitants of the old demolished hẻm houses are relocated into the 13 new shop houses at street level. The layout of these house are informed by the existing context. 3 - Housing The project includes 10 additional apartments. These units specifically addresses the needs of young people who wish to live close to the centre of Saigon but still want to be connected to the traditional hẻm culture. They represent the transition of the Vietnamese society towards a modern lifestyle.
LEARNING FROM A TUBE HOUSE
The last piece of a self-grown hẻm fabric with its unique social life is hidden within the plot.
Future 1 Existing street will be developed and connected with main street systems. Continuation of the tube houses with a footprint of 4x18m Loss of hẻm
Future 2 Existing street will be developed and connected with main street systems. Suggested is a hybrid of a tube house with a hẻm character.
2. Learning from a tube house
RHYTHM The footprint of the typical tube house on-site is around 4m x 18m with a average height of 4-5 floors. Unlike the height of the buildings, the rhythm of the widths of the front faĂ§ades is homogeneous. The new building responds to the context with the
same dimensions. The hight of the building relates to the elevated street. Like the tube houses on site, the maximum hight of the building can not exceed 5 floors over the háşťm in order to maintain the relation of the inhabitants to the street food culture.
2. Learning from a tube house
STRUCTURE AND CIRCULATION The concrete structure of the new building is an interpretation of the layout of a typical tube house construction that responds to the tropical climate conditions (Fig. 8). Inner core
The difference is the shift of the private and introverted light shaft into a public horizontal as well as vertical circulation that extends the vibrancy and the density of the social street life of a háşťm Backside The building is kept back one meter from the property line which allows openings in the back walls (IV.2.2.). This creates space for the private apartment stairs and green facade elements. At the same time, this gap brings natural light into the building and enables air circulation.
Fig.8: B House 66
extroverted and public inner core
introverted and private
Physical model 1:50
Main structure concrete Elevator Fire stairs Public circulation Private slab
4m 4m 4m 4m
2. Learning from a tube house
CLIMATE RESPONSE The combination of passive design and energy conservation is the main strategy for designing low energy climate responsive urban homes.
4 - Deep balconies Furthermore, the deep balconies and overhanging canopies create shade, cool air and allows further circulation occurs.
1- Air shaft The narrow core of the building is manipulated in a way that formulates shading and encourages ventilation, particularly in the form of wind currents from north-west to southeast (II.3.). The thermal mass of the buildings keeps the interiors cool.
5 - Green rooftop Terraces, especially garden rooftops, act as a heat barrier.
2 - Green facade & 3 - Metal mesh To encourage ventilation, the facade structure features a combination of vegetation and metal meshes. This enables an exchange of fresh air between the interior and exterior, and public and private.
Sun Cold air Warm air
Main wind direction 69
2. Learning from a tube house
FACADE The rhythm of the facade structure mimics the 4m width of a tube house. On the basis of the environmental strategies in IV.3.1., providing solar shading and encouraging natural light and ventilation are the main design parameters for the building facade.
The overhang of the facade and deep balconies enable shade and reduce radiant heat gain while offering space for hanging clothes or planting plants. Planters not only provide solar shading but also allows cooler air to ventilate the spaces and therefore minimise the use of air conditioner. Additionally, ornamental metal screens offer privacy and security (Fig7).
^ Fig 7: Hem House 70
1- Overhang 2- Deep balcony 3- Planters 4- Metal screens
LEARNING FROM HแบบM
Shop houses at street level
Open space at street level 76
3. Learning from a hẻm
PUBLIC/ PRIVATE STREET LEVEL A blurred open space The ground floor of the building is a continuation of the surrounding hẻms and therefore embraces the street food culture. House gates that open vertically create a blurring space of inside and outside. The double height spaces invites people to the shop houses which function, either for goods, or services, or food and drinks. The whole ground
floor is a public space throughout the day and can be closed to during the night. The open space in the ground floor response also to the high numbers of street vendors in the area. Instead of scraping through the hẻm to spread their food, the new layout offers the necessary space that they can share with the shop owners.
Street vendors in a hẻm
Blurring of inside and outside
Multi-purpose space at elevated level
Shop house elevated
3. Learning from a hẻm
ELEVATED STREET LIFE AND MULTI-FUNCTIONALITY A new connection The hẻm is connected with an elevated street that is running through the building and thus draws people to the upper level by offering another route. At the same time it provides shadow on the street level below. The street implies horizontal and vertical voids through the building that is an effective solution to get daylight deep into the building, as there is a lack of light availability due to
the sides being blocked by neighbouring buildings. Multi-purpose As shown in the chapter II.2.1. The activities in a hẻm are changing throughout the day. From Buddhist exercises in the dawn to food productions and trading in the middle of the day to social meeting points or children’s playground in the evening. The elevated street acts as an additional semi-public space that incorporates the
ability to change function throughout the different times of the day. Hẻm shop house The seven dwellings adjoining the elevated street are designed as shop houses. The dwelling façades are able to open completely to the street and invite people, like a typical shop house in a hẻm functions, either for goods and services, or food and drinks.
Split level apartments
3. Learning from a háşťm
MAISONETTE APARTMENTS On top of the 13 shop houses are ten apartment units which increases the density of the area to 180%. The open voids extend to a hight of 1,5 floors and influence the structure of the dwelling units above. This shift leads to a split level arrangement that enables a visual connection throughout the apartment. Natural ventilation occurs with this spacial setting and reduces the dependence on mechanical cooling.
Deep balcony + Double facade
Green terraces are placed on top of the apartments to cool down the roof surfaces and the building and to provide urban gardens for the inhabitants.
Split level apartment 81
REFLECTION During my time researching the urban fabric of Saigon and the lived Vietnamese culture, I started to get fascinated by the openness, friendliness and the constant embrace of respect and gratefulness. As a result, I always felt welcome wherever I went. However, this very unique character found in the traditional hẻm typology is jeopardized by the rapid urbanization and therefore demolition and renewal of Saigon. At the same time, there is a very young and modern generation, craving individual freedom, prosperity and success. This dynamic and international lifestyle is open to the rest of the world, seeing vibrant mega-cities like Singapore or Shanghai, and desire to catch up. In the urban context, developers and
city officials are pushing state-of-the-art luxury high-rise apartment and office towers.
Furthermore, it mirrors the period of transition, the Vietnamese society finds itself in right now.
Caught between smallscale hẻm context and large-scale developments, social and impersonal, tradition and progress, old and new, I think the challenge for me as an architect, is to find a new way of living and unique design expressions bridging these gaps. There is a pressing need to find modern answers for typologies that support and promote social life, space usage and quality housing, based on the local culture.
Additionally, the extreme local climate conditions and environmental pollution are pressing matters that influenced the design. Ensuring a natural ventilation throughout the hẻm and providing shade through simple vernacular techniques, result in a green, open and playful architectural expression. Rosa Bui
The project aims to combine the existing context, the tradition hẻm, as well as the forward-looking developments, both coming together so close to the centre of Saigon. 83
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IMAGES All images are author’s own unless otherwise stated.
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THESIS PROJECT Fall 2017 Rosa Bui firstname.lastname@example.org +4581938033 Aarhus School of Architecture
Understanding the traditional Vietnamese hyper-dense lane way culture in a time of rapid change THESIS PROJECT Rosa Bui