Vietnamese medicinal herb garden wins green architecture prize

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Nguyen Thanh Dung of the Mekong Delta's Kien Giang Province won the recent "Finding a Green House" environmentally friendly architecture competition for his Vietnamese medicinal herb garden and clinic.

The contest honored works that promoted envionmentalism as opposed to pure aesthetics and Dung won the top prize for his traditional Eastern clinic surrounded by herb gardens that provide the medicines. He designed and built it in his home province.

He beat out 474 other contestants at the event between September 15 and October 20 and organized by the NC Center of Live & Learn for Environment and Community, Goth Institute in Hanoi and the Hamburg University in Germany.

Dung said his 40-square meter clinic offered free examinations and traditional medicinal herbs. It used pure daylight during the day and two compact florescent light bulbs at night to save energy.

"The house was built with concrete blocks instead of bricks to reduce CO emission and it was decorated with bamboo materials. We also collect rainwater for irrigation," he said, adding that 50 local youths had volunteered to build the house and its 25-square meter herb garden.

Organizers also granted two second prizes and three third prizes.

Tran Thanh Cong won a second prize for his the home he designed on Hanoi's Lien Try Street.

The home featured what Cong called a "green corner" on the terrace of a five-story house.

"We use old styrofoam boxes to grow vegetables and the garden is irrigated by used PVC tubes."

Vu Hong Minh of Ha Phong City won a third prize for a house in which he grew luffs on the wall for food and to keep the space cooler without the use of air conditioner.

Organizers said the winning houses showed a creative and effective "green" way of living that are environmental friendly and reducing costs.

The awards were granted during a conference titled "Green Housing in Vietnam: Between Tradition and Modernity" held at the Goethe Institute in Hanoi on October 16-17, which was co-organized by the Goethe Institute in Hanoi, the Hamburg University, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Live & Learn.

At the conference, an interdisciplinary group of experts, including Vietnamese and German scientists and decision-makers from ministries, architectural offices, local non-governmental organizations and construction companies, discussed the obstacles to and solutions for the promotion of climate-adapted architecture and energy-efficient construction in Vietnam.

According to a press release from the conference, more than a third of global energy consumption is used for homes and buildings. In Vietnam, the potential to promote climate-adapted architecture and energy efficient building is far from exhausted.

"Due to the tropical climate, a particularly large amount of energy is needed for cooling and dehumidification, and the economic boom has allowed construction to grow enormously.In this context, there is a huge opportunity to "˜rediscover' of traditional tropical architecture based on natural ventilation," it said.

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