Cities lack of breathing spaces, say architects

By Viet Hung - Jun 03, 2019 | 04:03 PM GMT+7

TheLEADERPeople need to breathe to live so buildings also need green breathing spaces. As pressure on urban areas is mounting up, there is higher demand for green architecture.

Cities lack of breathing spaces, say architects
Hanoi is getting more crowded by buildings, but there is a lack of breathing spaces between them.

As the country has grown rapidly over the past 30 years, cities in Vietnam have been developed with the introduction of many new urban areas.

The rapid development however brings new challenges including polluted living environment and narrowed lakes for constructions.

In recent years, eco-urban, climate-adapted architecture, or green architecture for short, has become a new norm and been applied in practice around the world, in both construction works and urban planning.

Singapore’s lesson

Singapore is a typical example of incredible green architecture, having iconic buildings such as Marina Bay Sands or the Changi Airport that incorporate green features in their layout.

Chan Ee Mun, director of WOHA Architects said that Singapore has a great advantage when having support from all aspects to roll our green architecture across the nation.

“The programmes to encourage the use of green trees in the design of buildings or urban infrastructure have brought a clear result to the environment,” said Chan.

Although being a small island in its own right, Singapore now has been able to create modern works integrating green architecture features, which could be considered by other countries like Vietnam.

The need of breathing spaces

For Vietnam in particular, the country could face a great deal of challenges in terms of applying green architecture model, as it often requires large initial investments.

Tran Vu Lam, chairman of Hanoi-based CUBIC Architects, the firm has always offered its customers options for designs with the largest green spaces available, to make them feel comfortable.

Nevertheless, more green space means less housing units, which are the selling products of property developers and investors.

As such, many investors have ignored the green factor for the community as they prioritise the profit factor.

“They’ve forgotten that green spaces are always worth more than blocks of concrete,” Lam said, adding that construction buildings are just like a living body. As people need to breathe to live, buildings also need green breathing spaces between themselves.

“In the last few weeks, although the temperature in the cities in Vietnam only added up by a few degrees, we felt like it had gone up by some 10 degrees or so. It was obliviously caused by the lack of green spaces, making the cities unable to radiate heat,” Lam gave an example.

What are the solutions?

From the perspective of an architect, Lam said that it is better for cities to have more green spaces between buildings, in a bid to lower the high heat of summer and create fresh spaces for citizens.

“One of the three important needs of residents in the urban areas is the connection. Therefore, investors and designers need to respect this need and create more space for these residents to connect with one another,” Lam suggested.

For large apartment projects, the architect noted that their layouts should take into account the ability to get the most wind and light for the each of the apartment units.

It is necessary to create green spaces for the community. In addition to greenery, investors can consider adding an outdoor swimming pool or small lake or pond to their design.

For structures that require cost savings or being built on a limited space, Lam said that it is still possible to include a green space by creating a bridge between the buildings.

The courtyard, in this case, can be used for parking to get additional profit, but can still act as an open space for the community.