June 19, 2015

It has been 79 years since the construction of Cutural Centre began, during which countless unforgettable urban memory of Saigon has been showcased. District 5, with Cho Lon, has been considered the first cradle of Saigon – the largest city of Vietnam, and the 80-year-old Cultural Centre located in the heart of the district has undeniably been a witness of the history of this city.

In accordance with the fast urbanising process, there has been a reduction in greenery spaces in big cities of Vietnam, particularly HCMC, with the replacement of high-rise and modern buildings. However, spreading all around District 5, 100-year-old ancient trees, are standing still, laying out their shadow to the surrounding areas, and have become the “green treasure” of the district itself and of Saigon – Cho Lon generally.

The functional spaces of the cultural center are encapsulated in a square area, located in the center of the overall area (located in the middle of the land). The remaining surrounding areas are devoted to greenery space with clumps of tree and park walking paths, playgrounds,…

The overall infrastructure is surrounded with green spaces, which illustrate the streets crossing through the “forest” in the middle of the city, the so-called “green treasure” of Saigon. They are not only the “green lung” but also the witness of all the priceless historical changes of this city over time.

Besides the green shell, the image of the colonnades – the signature of Saigon – Cho Lon – is once again imitated in the works by steel skeletons. This will create the shadow that tackles the feelings of the people who live inside the building. Additionally, the strong connection among the facade and the combination with the square roof create an identifying and elegant look for the whole structure.

The building is located on the nearly 300 year old heritage route East – West, which has been an important trading artery of this city and evidently it still keeps playing the role. The street runs along the Tau Hu – Ben Nghe, the vital transporting channel aging over 300 years along with Gia Dinh land, known as Saigon-ChoLon today, significantly contributes to the development of this prosperous land.

The image of the channel is brought into the work, in the middle of entertaining quarters and vibrant outdoor stages with the purpose of portraying the beauty and the value of this historical feature into the Saigon residents’ hearts.

The community living space is placed in the centre of the structure. It is disposed by different floors associated with various levels of height, illustrating as the “memorial stairs”. The visitors as well as the residents can spend their time sitting on this stairway with their friends and their family, having conversations and enjoying the priceless history of the Saigon – Cholon.

The featured functional spaces of the cultural building are distributed along 2 flows leading towards the heart of the construction, and are divided into 2 blocks, dynamic and static. While dynamic block consists of space for club activities and indoor performances, static block is intended for classes, libraries and offices. These spaces use the geometric language of blocks and basic straight lines, as well as a steel frame structure based on colonnades simulating tree lines mentioned above. The blocks are linked together by a core stairway as a vertical circulation axis, and the corridor as the horizontal axis, creating multiple layers of space, interlacing airy garden space with functional blocks.
Located on the site of the old cultural house is a monumental fountain. It is one of the eight mushroom shaped water tank in the city, which have great capacity and steady concrete structure, however have not been utilized. We want to retain this fountain and suggest new functions to it, not only because of its considerably stabilized structure but also its historic value.

We retain the current condition of the water tank with its thick concrete covering. In addition to its stabilized structure, this water tank has existed here for over 40 years with thousands of visitors everyday, thus the vitality and urban spirit has immersed in every piece of its material. We suggest renovating this water tank by covering it with a steel frame. it can be seen as a steel frame supporting the huge water tank, reassuring the steadiness and relieving our overwhelmed feeling when standing under a 30-meter water tank. The use of steel frame from the modern age in covering the water tank can be considered as an appreciation of historic values.

Moreover, the combination of light art and the steel frame will be a unique feature of the construction. In the annual Mid – autumn festival, the lantern parks in Luong Nhu Hoc street – District 5 are covered with hundreds, even thousands of lanterns, which has become a spectacular feature of District 5. We want to use the shimmering image of the lanterns, which is familiar with the people here, to put on a new look for the outdoor water fountains in cultural areas in District 5. The sparkling fountain reflected in the flow of memories will become a new iconic symbol of the construction as well as the central area of District 5.
Besides, we also suggest another use of the water fountain, a use that has not been executed since its construction by the American, which will make it a new destination for the urban residents. By adding elevators to the fountain, sightseeing will be enabled, which allows the visitors to enjoy the “Heritage Avenue”, Tau Hu canal from a significant height and opens up beautiful landscapes of the city. This water fountain will be an outstanding geographic location, with its high cultural and historical value, has been and will remain a witness to history of this dynamic city.

The switching of the towering trees in the Cutural Centre is an appreciative and respectful behaviour towards the nature and urban memories, which carry unforgettable historical values.

By using the everyday life materials and the images that have deeply been printed in the hearts of District 5 people, as well as those who live in Saigon, we recreated and transferred such concepts of the area to the architectural – spatial language of harmonization and unification.

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