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Rong Xhan Safehouse

Part 1 Project 2014
Emily Priest
Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL) London UK
The project proposes a refuge for children on the outskirts of Hanoi, on the edge of the Red River. Rong Xhan Safehouse would work alongside the Blue Dragon (Rong Xhan) Foundation, an existing charity that works to protect children who have become homeless after migrating into the city to find work. Human Rights Watch accounts that without charities like the Blue Dragon, these children are most likely to be treated unfairly and they are hardly ever reunited with their parents.

In response to this very particular and sensitive social political situation, the scheme sets out to build a very intimate and specific relationship between the city, the river and the children.

Rong Xhan can house around 180 children; mostly looking after children between five and ten. These children would be given a place to sleep, temporary education and psychological support, whilst the charity would work to find their guardians. As well as this, the safehouse would become part of the nearby community by forming an extension to the existing communal pathway and playground.

It was felt that the riverbank would act as a sanctuary from the noise and pollution of Hanoi: The houses that line the riverbank would form a community belt and the river itself could act as a gestural barrier, so that naturally, the children wouldn’t veer too far from their new home whilst playing beneath the streams of elephant grasses.

At the same time, the scheme could not ignore Hanoi’s flooding season: during the months of July and August, the Red River floods, soaking the riverbank. The scheme responds to the flooding by using the water to create a warning façade that can tell the children, whether or not it is safe to enter the building. It does this through a series of barriers that, in a variety of ways, turn to the colour blue as the water subsides. These barriers are implemented into the building and its surroundings, making intimate moments of learning and calm for the children, whilst coming together to make a beacon for new children, who are trying to find the ‘blue building’.

Emily Priest

Tutor(s)
Ms Sabine Storp
2014
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