Yen So Park
SOCIAL CHANGE AND THE ARCHITECTURE OF NATION HOOD
At the turn of the 20th century, Le Corbusier was disturbed by the problems of public housing in the industrial cities of Europe. The two world wars at the beginning of the century excarberated the problems. He sought through architecture and the modern movement to bring about better living conditions and a better society. Architecture was no more bourgoise pandering to rich patrons, but was seen as a means towards a democratic solution to social problems and as a mover of social change.
At the other extreme, Albert Speer utilised architecture to express the nihilistic national aspirations of the Aryan master race ideal. The National Socialist movement thrived on the grandiose and powerful architectural language. Here architecture is used as a means of social and ideological manipulation to impart the notion of their greatness.
Architecture is an experiential phenomena that boldly stands not only in space but in the hearts and minds of a people. Lord Nelson Statue of Trafalgar Square is synonymous with London just as the Eiffel Tower is with Paris. Sydney would definitely be a poorer place without the Opera House.
Every nation exploits this phenomena to create a sense of national identity and pride. Major public buildings such as the parliament building or a museum is usually expressed as a statement of nation hood. Monuments too are built to evoke national consciousness and pride.
The Joseph Paxton’s Crystal palace was built at the height of the British Empire as a showcase of its might and influence. So was the Eiffel Tower. The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France to the new America as a symbol of solidarity to the principles of freedom and equality. It was also as a strong message to the English that you were not the only world power. New York and to the larger extent America, grew on the shoulders of the Statue of Liberty.
With the ability to evoke a sense of identity and pride, architecture has a large role to play in creating a national consciousness. And when the people clamors for change towards a better future, architecture will become the agents of change.
HANOI – REQUISITE FOR CHANGE
The year 2010 marked the millenium year of Hanoi and Hanoi was set to celebrate 1000 years of its conception. Vietnam was occupied by the Chinese for over a thousand years after which, Vietnam was a colonial battleground for the French and the Americans. All three nations have left indelible marks on the physical and psychological character of the nation. Russia too has left its marks in its support towards communist Vietnam who declared their independence in 1945. Reunification in 1975 brought further hardships as the nation tried to find a footing in a world previously hostile towards communism.
Over the last 40 years, Hanoi has progressed from a nation bewildered by self-determination to a country that is self assured and confident. After a century of war, Hanoi is poised to move into another era, a new millenium with a better future. The 1000 years celebration of Hanoi marks that transition. With the celebration, The Yen So Park is determined to become a mover of this change.
The chosen site was wild unkempt parklands with lakes that have become the hapless spillover catchment for the open sewerage canal that runs along side the lake for the last two decades. The rejuvenation of the parkland is a metaphor for the rejuvenation of Hanoi itself where in crafting this transformation, the parklands shall represent a strong appreciation of Vietnam Heritage whilst reflecting the strength and aspiration of a growing nation.
The park derives inspiration from the rich tapestry of Hanoi’s culture and translates it into a personal experience where the visitors are carried through a journey of both the traditional and contemporary. The parkscape is segmented into a procession of experience from the historic, to the contemporary and onwards to the future designed to arouse emotions or to stimulate the mind.
A strong synergy is created between architecture and landscaping juxtaposing distinct architectural expressions in a complementary interpretation of each segment. The segments progress through lush landscaping that hugs and addresses the lake, each complementing the other.
The building composition addresses the lake and its landscaping context. The architectural expression speaks the historical and cultural language that has been re-interpreted in symbiosis with each segment concept parks.
The Yen So park is a 800 acre urban rejuvenation and rehabilitation programme in Hanoi that consists of several concept parks, being the Heritage Village, the Cultural Gardens, the Celebration Square and Future Vietnam that are brought together by a common lakeside park. The park is developed in conjunction with residential and commercial zones that are mutually complementary.
The Heritage Village
Starting the sequence of parks is the Heritage Village that celebrates Hanoi’s heritage and tradition in art, architecture, history, food and culture. The village consists of a theater, a crafts pavilion, a tea house, F&B kiosks and restrooms.
The Heritage Village is composed of unique contemporarised structures with historical character laid out in the manner of a traditional village reminiscent of the Temple of Literature in Hanoi.
The layout is a series of courtyards that terminates to a main square. Collonaded pavilion building that consists of a crafts pavilion, a tea house, F&B kiosks and restrooms flanks the courtyard whilst the theater stands at the main square. Guarding the city is a set of pillar gates that defines the entrance to the city. The whole composition is laid in a symmetrical order.
In maintaining the traditional building manner, the form, scale and proportions of traditional buildings are adhered to. In translating the building to modern norms, the materials, style and detailing are rearticulated into modern vernacular forms.
The Heritage Village provides an active glimpse into the life of Hanoi and an appreciation of it’s people. It is envisioned that the village may instill into the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese of their own consciousness as a people and a nation with a long and proud history.
The Cultural Gardens
From this celebration of heritage and tradition, the park moves ontowards showcasing Hanoi’s culture and history. The building program consists of a cultural gallery, a boat house, a music pavilion and a viewing pavilion.
The Cultural Gallery
Befitting the design intent to showcase Vietnamese culture, the design concept takes its cue from the tube-houses of traditional Vietnamese houses. The deconstruction of the traditional Vietnamese tube houses and gardens enable the Cultural Gallery to be reconstructed along traditional values and expressed in modernist terms.
In the tube house the courtyard separates the two main building blocks where a covered verandahway provides the connection. Entrance to the building is preceded by an entrance courtyard which is guarded by a set of pillar gates.
The Cultural Gallery is a pair of glass box separated by a garden. Vertical planes in traditional red brick disect the building and the contrast in colours accentuates the building planar and tectonic form. The vertical plane also provides the visual connnection between the two buildings. The garden is an extension of the park where the building and garden are melded into one spatial composition.Water elements snakes through and under the buildings. Relating to the One Pillar Pagoda of Hanoi, the Gallery building is propped by one rust coloured pillar standing in a pond of water. From the front, entrance to the Cultural Gallery is through a gate that cuts across a courtyard. Classical Vietnamese screen patterns creates visual interest onn the entrance walls.
History is a progression of events that marks the life of a nation and its people where culture is how the people enlivens that history. The gallery spaces are designed as a sequence of exhibition that moves from the outside and weaves within the building before terminating back outside in a garden. The sequence denotes the movement of life and the movement in history. Moving through the spaces are therefore like a journey through time and space.
The tale of the Vietnamese culture is not only shown as exhibits but is to be experienced within the modern interpretation of a Vietnamese tube house.
The Cultural Gallery takes a contemplative and contemporary look at the culture and history of Hanoi where it may impart a sense of identity and pride as a people and a nation.
Music Pavilion, Viewing Pavilion & Boathouse
Part of the Cultural gardens is the music pavilion where the liberal nature of the music pavilion is envisaged to bring about an atmosphere of uninhibited and free expression of music and the arts.
The open air music pavilion is composed of sweeping simple lines, colours and materials to create soft subtle ambience that becomes an elegant setting for artistic appreciation. The hovering stage of white floats in contrast to the sea of green that gives the performance platform center stage against the dramatic background of the wide spaces of the lake.
Rather than letting the pavilion disappear into the parkland, a ring of large vertical screens mark the boundary. The screens are patterned with reference to Vietnamese traditional screen patterns. Like a row of stonehenges, the screens define the space and reduce the dramatic scale of the park to a more intimate human scale.
Close nearby is a viewing pavilion. The pavilion is designed to offer a platform whereby one may appreciate the park and lake experience. Essentially a simple cube dissected by a plane by whose orientation directs the view. The plane utilises the traditional unadorned red brick to create contrast with the simple walless cube. The presence of the cube is made more dramatic by having it hovering above the ground. Creating interest on the plane wall is a detail in the manner of traditional Vietnamese screens.
A Boathouse completes the building ensemble of the Cultural gardens. The boathouse provides a social water recreational activity that is part of the tradition of Hanoi. The lone structure of the floating boathouse provides a singularly strong visual statement against the pastoral quietness of the gardens and the tranquil reflection of the lake much like a boat in the wide expanse of the sea.
The building is a glass box that sits on a horizontal plane as if floating on a raft. The effect is further heigthen by having the glass box raised above the bottom box set on pilotis giving the impression of the building floating like a boat above the park.
The Celebration Square
Arriving at the contemporary, the Celebration Square is planned as an arena to celebrate Hanoi’s Historical and Cultural events. The Celebration Square is a formal square ringed with historical monuments, a celebration stage & canopy, a grand gateway, a restaurant and restrooms.
The Celebration Square is envisioned as a tribute to the people of Vietnam where the formal socialist architectural precedent is utilised to inspire one’s sense of patriotism. Mass celebrations of critical historical events and cultural festivals are to be celebrated here.
The journey of Vietnam moves to the future with the Future Vietnam concept park. Youth and the natural environment are the indipensable assets for the future of Vietnam. Future Vietnam intends to instill self-awareness of their potential and respect for their environment.
Planned for Future Vietnam are a sports park, an adventure park, an arboretum and a woodland.
Design references are made to the Temple of Literature, Hanoi, in articulating the building where the building morphology of a pair of buildings with a connecting courtyard forms the basis of the composition. The walls of the traditional buildings are unplastered red bricks are punctuated with rounded screen windows. The form is a simple box with a collonade of columns at the perimeter of the buildings and the collonade props up the roof that seems to hover above the building.
The same building morphology is utilised in composing the sales gallery that is connected by a central courtyard entrance lobby. The tectonic shape of the boxes are coloured red with the colour of the bricks framed by a collonade of columns supporting the hovering roof. Large rounded screens detailes in traditional patterns add interest to the walls. However where the building faces the lake, the lake takes precedent and the solid walls are replaced by the transparency of glass.
Announcing the arrival to the gallery, a set of pillar gates line the driveway in welcome.
The Yen So park is an unprecedented public project that provides a much needed public space for the people of Hanoi. The boldness and self confidence in proposing such a project is a sign of coming of age.
Hanoi is on the threshold of change and the park is poised to become the agent of change. However only with knowledge and self realisation that change may occur. History and the ideals of a better future resonate throughout the park and it is this understanding that is ultimately conveyed to the people of Hanoi. At the park, the history and culture of Vietnam is reinterpreted through current emotions and aspirations that is ultimately expressed in modernist design concepts.
Here, architecture is just not about buildings and structures but about being the agents of change in rejuvenating the physical and social fabric of Hanoi whilst maintaining its historical and cultural attachment.