Architecturisation of Mekong Delta nature
This is a new campus for an architecture university, situated in mangrove community swamps in the vicinity of the Mekong Delta, a suburb of Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam. Existing campuses are located within the center of the city but it is planned to relocate them to a new campus, due space limitations within the city itself. In 2006, we won the international competition and started the project. The competition sought a solution to the question of how space and education could coexist. We suggested a plan that simultaneously establishes both connectivity and separation for the departments of architecture, the city, civil engineering, construction, and applied art (ID・fashion).
There are many rivers and creeks within and surrounding the site area. Due to the tropical climate the seasonal differences are extreme and the water level undergoes large variation. (Within this area the difference is 1.5m and it reaches a maximum of 10m in some other areas of Mekong.) There also is a need to drain water away from hard squall. The challenge from the beginning was how to acquire the land while handling this “water” fluidity. Instead of implementing bank protection work, our idea was to preserve, as far as possible, the existing scenery that is covered by water in the rainy season and encloses the main campus with a ring road that is higher than the surrounding area. The buildings are also kept low rise since the foothold is relatively weak.
Campus without air-conditioning
The southern region of Vietnam is very different from Hanoi. Temperatures are high throughout the year but winds are strong and shaded areas are comfortable. We proposed a campus that would not rely on complete air conditioning as is the case in Singapore. This is an approach already adopted in the area: people enjoy outdoor cafes despite the tropical weather.
Therefore, the arrangement of the architecture, low-rise with a large footprint, was determined by means of an analysis of wind and activity flow by using CFD (computer fluid dynamics) analysis. The configuration of space within the “ring roads” began with the adoption of a “celery” cross-section, that is, a diffuse spatial motif. During the course of six months of designing the main campus became one continuous line of architecture. This is a shape derived from “Fluid Direction” (design of flows). When completed, it will become a campus that is unique in the world, where one can study within the an environment that provides a direct experience of sustainability. The intention of the design is not to set the large project against the landscape, but rather to allow it to blend into the site, thereby adopting a 21st century method which sets itself apart from that of the modern age.