DONG NAI PROVINCE, VIETNAM / The Ho Chi Minh City-based design firm T3 ARCHITECTS has built a bioclimatic dormitory that’s part of a green classroom program in Vietnam. It’s made of locally sourced building materials, thereby reducing negative impacts on the climate and natural environment.
Aptly called “The Hippo Farm”, the 218-sq-m building is designed for students and families looking to just be surrounded by bountiful nature, gain experience with permaculture, go horseback riding, and learn more about sustainable construction.
Basically, it’s about getting involved in activities that reconnect with the true essence of education. Plus, it furthers the progress of team spirit and the opportunity for friends and family to share happy moments amid natural surroundings.
By design, the Hippo Farm is bioclimatic, a performance-based approach that pays particular attention to the relationship between living organisms and the weather conditions prevailing in an area.
To create a comfortable microclimate, T3 ARCHITECTS, or T3, first determined how the location and orientation of the site would affect the building’s energy profile. In so doing, the design team conducted a careful investigation of wind direction both during the dry season (to get the maximum benefits of natural air flow), and the rainy season (to protect the façade from water infiltration).
Next, they decided to elevate the building site above flood level by covering it with soil and debris from old horse stables that had fallen into disrepair and subsequently knocked down. This improvement in the landscape had beneficial effects on wildlife and provided the natural home for insects that are useful at the other end of the food chain.
Reusing existing materials is part of a frugal approach to do more with less. The new building has a simple steel structure tailor-made near the site. The walls are built of local bricks covered with lime plastering mixed with red sand occurring naturally in the area. Roof insulation is made of Vietnamese rice husk mixed with diatomaceous earth, which helps protect against insects.
Formed from hard materials including silica and lignin, rice husk is humidity resistant, which makes it a suitable building material for Tropical climate. Plus, it’s inexpensive and biodegradable. The doors and windows are crafted of solid wood indigenous to Vietnam combined with woven bamboo paneling. Both are easily obtained and able to build on a budget. They are water repellent and serve as engine that drives natural ventilation.
To save water, dry toilet systems are used. The toilet seat is made of OSB, a type of engineered wood, with a stainless steel toilet tank underneath and a lid designed for easy operation. Without using water in the toilet systems, waste matter can be added to soil to help build and improve the upper layer of earth in which plants grow. The sink or washbasin is controlled by a push button to teach kids about the importance of water conservation.
Handrails and pergolas are made of Melaleuca wood indigenous to southern Vietnam. It stands up extremely well to water. Solar powered water heaters are installed on the roof facing south where sunlight exposure is the highest. The surrounding landscape showcases the gorgeous range of native perennials that have evolved naturally in the region. They provide excellent shade for the building and require very low maintenance. All things considered, it’s a creative design that values frugality and simplicity emblematic of the Tropical countryside.
Design: T3 ARCHITECTS | http://www.t3architects.com
Lead Architects: Charles GALLAVARDIN, Tereza GALLAVARDIN and Rafael LIRA
Design Team: Ta Quang Hai (Architect) and Huy NGUYEN (Interior Designer)
Story: T3 ARCHITECTS / Living ASEAN
Photo: Herve GOUBAND (ALISA Production) | http://alisa-production.com