Nationalism and patriotism were the main driving force for the urban development defined by the creation of multiple factories and the transformation of the vicinity urban landscape in the heroic period of the modern history of Vietnam.
After “Đổi Mới”, economic reform to create a socialist-oriented market economy, The industrialization of Vietnam as a post-war nation has steadily risen over the past decades and resulted in uncontrollable urban sprawl which consecutively has redrawn the city’s boundary. As a consequence, outskirt factories have gradually drifted into the new city’s peri-center perimeter and ended up at unexpectedly prime locations. Paradoxically, their intangible historical existence and tangible architectural signification are often neglected by the mainstream media and easily fallen into the assumption of contaminated urban banality as an adopted kid of excessive socialist industrialization with modern capitalistic urbanization.
Rang Dong thermos light bulb factory is a demonstrative example of this ongoing phenomenon. Following the open call of Ho Chi Minh to rebuild the country, the factory was built in 1958 as one of the first 13 factories laying the foundation for Vietnam’s industry. Rang Dong is unquestionably one of the testimonies and symbolical acts of the socialist consolidation, the hope of reunifying the nation from the hand of Vietnamese men and women.
Despite its ideology based on the socialist foundation, Rang Dong factory’s prime location is now situated in the center of a capitalist flow. The factory has been accidentally set on fire and released a ton of toxic particles which contaminated the air, soil, and water of the whole inner-urban district. This environmental disaster has raised public awareness of public attitude not only toward industrial artifacts but also the damaged ecology system of the inner urban areas.
Instead of a conventional destructive solution that favors razing to the ground and grow up giant generic residential towers from tabula rasa, The project proposes an alternative mixing hard and soft strategies based on insight structural studies, public participation, and governmental planning orientation.
Taking on the challenge of negotiation with the authorities and the real estate investors.
The proposed scheme, therefore, seeks to determine an equilibrium between projective density and actual infrastructural capacity, a synergy rather than the rivalry between nature and architecture, while enhancing the cohabitation between collective memory and modern urban regeneration based on an ecological-oriented guideline.
The project is composed of 5 mains programmatic elements: 4 stripes and 1 pathway representing 5 main urban tactics and phases: Restore, Repair, Reform, Regenerate, Restructure which respectively correspond to 5 main programs: Leisure, Culture, Production + Consumption, Housing + Amenities, and Ecology Infrastructure.
Regenerate: The project proposes to replace the part of the factory with less architectural significance with a mixed-use complex that is traced from the original structural grid. By using local and salvaged bricks from the demolition as the main substance for the new construction, the genius loci will be carried in the future development and reflected on the walls of the new school housing and amenities.
Reform: the overall architectural morphology is strategically modified for better natural ventilation and circulation. By using aerodynamic simulation as a form-finding measure, we can determine the opening positions as well as the pathway morphology which favors a passive ventilation strategy. Rigidifying the complex of roofs together is not only a structural strategy but also an energy efficiency as the roof is now functioning as a rainwater collector mechanism.
In parallel, we want to keep the primary structure, while integrating new productive programs as space for agriculture, creative hub, co working, handicraft workshops, local markets, and street vendors that enhance outdoor activities, street life vibes.
Repair: keep most of the original structure as damaged urban artifacts in which timeless historical events and stories have been embedded, turning into cultural-artistic space which will be an urban transitory pilot project. The collective memory and spirit of place are taken into account and translated into a local industrial museum whose physical presence itself is a historical testimony.
Restore and Restructure: Recreate an Ecosystem with native plants and shrubs connecting the project site to its surrounding natural elements. The pathway functions as a plug over, an extension of the site connecting to its social vicinity, urban fabric, and surrounding environment. The vernacular landscape and vegetation will be integrated along the pathway which can propose a sophisticated system for post-occupant urban artifacts where the complex agency of the living system and can be deployed without mercy.
This pathway is characterized by various sequences corresponding to multiple social activities which reflect the local culture of the milieu while its greenery features help to reduce urban heat; making pedestrians more comfortable. The nature-culture binary is hence, considered as a social/environmental resilient urban creation and instrumental landscape of essential processes that tolerate morphological differences and upholds the unfinished urbanization.
Industrial ecologies orientation will radically transform the conventional approach to industrial heritage renovation. Moving beyond the economic valuation of production and the utility of land use, the project is designed for greater flexibilities, overlaps, interconnections, synergies, and areas of exchanges that privilege ecological systems, collective memory preservation as an ad hoc intervention in the urban condition of Hanoi.