A continuous green roof provides children with the experience of cultivating food at this low-tech Kindergarten in Vietnam
As it moves from an agrarian to a manufacturing-based economy, Vietnam faces huge challenges, with a commensurate toll on the environment. Increased droughts, floods and salinisation jeopardise food supplies, while ubiquitous motorcycles cause congestion and air pollution in the cities. Rapid urbanisation is depriving children of green play areas, compromising their relationship with nature.
Vo Trong Nghia’s Farming Kindergarten is a propositional response to these pressing issues. Built next to a shoe factory for the 500 children of the factory employees, it has a continuous green roof that provides children with food and the experience of cultivating it, as well as a vast, elevated playground. The roof encircles three large internal courtyards and all functions are corralled under its curved embrace. As the inclined roof dips to the courtyard it gives access to the upper levels and vegetable gardens where children learn the importance of farming and commune with nature.
The building is a continuous narrow strip with openable windows that maximise cross ventilation and lighting. As a result, it can operate without air conditioning, despite the intense tropical climate. Other strategies of environmental control include using recycled factory wastewater to irrigate the green roof and flush lavatories. Post-occupancy studies reveal that the building has saved 25 per cent of energy and 40 per cent of fresh water compared with a baseline building, thus greatly reducing its overall running costs.
The budget was limited, but local materials and low-tech construction cut the cost to $500 per sqm, including finishes and equipment, which is economical, even in a Vietnamese context.