Tag Archives: Vietnam

H&P architects encircles vietnamese toilet block with structural bamboo

in vietnam, 88% of rural schools do not have a toilet that meets the criteria of the country’s national ministry of health, while a quarter have no toilet altogether.

H&P architects toigetation toilet block vietnam designboom

son lap school, located in the cao bang province, has a total of 485 students ranging from kindergarten age to the mid-teens, yet no bathroom facilities that met minimum standards.

H&P architects toigetation toilet block vietnam designboom

consequently, local practice H&P architects was commissioned to design a structure that included a toilet, a wash area and pleasant vegetation.

H&P architects toigetation toilet block vietnam designboom
the project is located in vietnam’s rural cao bang province

named ‘toigetation’, the scheme includes a thick layer of vegetation (trees and herbs) on its four sides that helps both regulate the indoor climate and reinforce the load-bearing structure.

H&P architects toigetation toilet block vietnam designboom

built with the assistance of the region’s villagers, local materials such as bamboo and brick are used to ensure natural ventilation and lighting.

H&P architects toigetation toilet block vietnam designboom

in addition, integrated solar panels produce energy, while greywater is harvested and reused.

H&P architects toigetation toilet block vietnam designboom
the structure includes a toilet, a wash area and vegetation
image © doan thanh ha

H&P architects toigetation toilet block vietnam designboom
the scheme’s thick layer of vegetation helps regulate its indoor climate

H&P architects toigetation toilet block vietnam designboom
integrated solar panels produce energy, while greywater is harvested and reused

H&P architects toigetation toilet block vietnam designboom
the building was constructed with the assistance of local villagers

project info:

location: son lap school, son lap commune, bao lac, cao bang province, vietnam
architect: H&P architects
architect in charge: doan thanh ha & tran ngoc phuong
team: luc van tu, chu kim thinh, nguyen van manh, patricia erimescu, vo quynh thu, nguyen thi xuyen, chu van dong, nguyen hai hue, hoang huu nam
architectural adviser: dr. nguyen tri thanh
construction: h&p architects and volunteers
completed: december, 2014
photography: doan thanh ha

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Vo Trong Nghia Tops Apartment Blocks With Connecting Roof Garden In Vietnam

known for overflowing their architecture with greenery, vo trong nghia architects have designed the ‘diamond lotus’- a large scale housing scheme set to accommodate 720 families.

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standing as three, singular condominium buildings, they are connected through a garden, spanning the roofs of all three volumes.

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comprised of 22 storeys and topped with the garden roof, this provides residents with amples of green space, which rarely occurs in the city.

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the façades can be seen covered with planter boxes, filled with bamboo. the choice of the specific plant is to regulate heat gain,

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while shading the residences from the powerful tropical sunlight. with many current developments in ho minh chi city expediting the loss of greenery,

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the roof garden feature and green screen façade is regarded not only as a dedication to the comfort of inhabitants, but also a contribution to the wider urban landscape.

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diamond-lotus-vietnam-vo-trong-nghia-designboom-02

practice : vo trong nghia architects
principals : vo trong nghia + kosuke nishijima + tran thi hang
architects : kuniko onishi, tran thi thanh tuyen, tran vo kien, victor llavata
status : in progress
program : condominiums
location : ho chi minh city, vietnam
site area : 8,400m2
gfa : 67,240m2
client : phuc khang corporation

Stunning Floating Markets in Asia

A floating market is a market where goods are sold from boats. Originating in times and places where water transport played an important role in daily life, most floating markets operating today mainly serve as tourist attractions, and are chiefly found in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. The sellers often gather at 3:00 and come back at 11:00.

The following are stunning analogue photos of daily life in floating markets in Asia.

Hugh Tovar, CIA Operative at the Center of Cold War Intrigues, Dies at 92

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Indonesian soldiers take members of the youth wing of the country’s Communist Party to prison in Jakarta on October 30, 1965. They were rounded up by the army following a crackdown on Communists after an abortive coup against President Sukarno’s government earlier in the month. CIA officer Hugh Tovar was a high-ranking official stationed in Jakarta at the time. AP 

Hugh Tovar, who was at the center of two of the CIA’s most controversial covert action operations during the Cold War, died of natural causes just after midnight June 27. He was 92.

Tovar was the CIA station chief in Malaysia and Indonesia in the 1960s and then Laos and Thailand in the 1970s, while the U.S. and Soviet Union were locked in proxy wars around the world, most directly in Southeast Asia. For a time he was also chief of the CIA’s covert action and counterintelligence sections at its headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

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Tovar’s assignments put him on the cutting edge of CIA operations at the time, much like the today’s counterterrorism specialists, said Colin Thompson, a former CIA officer who served under Tovar in Thailand and later in the CIA’s counterintelligence branch.

“Hugh was one of a small group of senior East Asia officers…who were to the CIA in the ’60s and ’70s what the [agency’s] leaders in Middle East operations are today,” said Thompson, who also worked in Laos, where Tovar was station chief from 1970 to 1973, at the height of the CIA’s so-called “secret war” there.

The assignment to Vientiane, the capital of Laos, was a homecoming of sorts for Tovar, who had previously been sent there by the CIA’s World War II predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services, after his ROTC class at Harvard was called to duty by the U.S. Army in 1943.

Born in Colombia as Bernardo Hugh Tovar—he rarely used his first name—he was raised in Chicago but attended Portsmouth Priory (now Portsmouth Abbey), a private school in Rhode Island run by Benedictine monks.

The CIA’s later covert campaign in Laos was the biggest and longest paramilitary operation in the agency’s history. It lasted from 1961 to 1975 and employed hundreds of CIA operatives and pilots and thousands of local Hmong tribesmen in a failed effort to block Communist North Vietnam from using Laos as a supply route and staging ground for attacks in South Vietnam.

But it was Tovar’s tenure in Indonesia in 1965 that has drawn the most scrutiny. At the time, the country’s president, Sukarno, was leading a global “anti-imperialist” movement with the support of the Soviet Union and Communist China.

Tovar, who had earlier worked against Communist guerrillas in the Philippines, was the CIA’s Jakarta station chief. In September 1965, a coup attempt by the Indonesian Communist Party, or PKI, failed, and the military unleashed a genocidal campaign against the PKI’s mostly ethnic Chinese followers.

With the rebellion crushed and the military-backed Suharto regime now fully in power, the U.S. and other Western powers hailed the outcome as “the West’s best news for years in Asia,” as Time magazine put it.

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“Hugh made his mark in Indonesia in the mid-’60s where he was COS [chief of station] during the very bloody anti-Chinese riots that led to the overthrow of Sukarno and the rise of Suharto,” Thompson told Newsweek. “I understand he and the station performed very well.”

Too well, according to a sensational 1990 account by States News Service journalist Kathy Kadane. She reported that the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta provided the Indonesian military with the names of suspected Communists, who were then hunted down and murdered.

“Over the next months, tens of thousands died—estimates range from the Suharto government report of 78,002 to an Amnesty International estimate of more than 1 million deaths,” intelligence historian John Prados wrote in his 2003 biography of William Colby, a colleague of Tovar’s who later became CIA director. An internal CIA report on the events in Indonesia, Prados wrote, called it “one of the worst episodes of mass murder of the 20th century.”

Responding to Kadane’s charges in The New York Times, Tovar denied he was involved in providing “any classified information” to an embassy political officer who in turn gave it to the Indonesians.

In a 2001 interview with the Indonesian magazine Tempo, he also denied CIA complicity in the resulting carnage. “The U.S. did not in any way help the Army suppress the Communists,” he said.

Tovar retired in 1978 but followed his second wife, Pamela Kay Balow, “on her assignments with the CIA to Rome, Singapore and Australia,” according to theannouncement of his death by the Galone-Caruso Funeral Home in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania. He died “peacefully” at St. Anne Home, an assisted-living center in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, the announcement said.

In his retirement, Tovar became a measured critic of U.S. efforts to overthrow foreign governments. In a 1982 book of essays on covert action, he was quoted as saying the CIA’s ill-fated 1961 invasion of Cuba was based on the mistaken notion that Fidel Castro’s support was “so shallowly rooted…that he could be shaken by psychological pressures, as [President Jacobo] Arbenz had been in Guatemala [in 1954], and then ousted by a comparative handful of troops.”

“Was it an intelligence failure?” Tovar said. “Undoubtedly, and in the grandest sense of the term.”

Likewise, in Vietnam in 1963, a U.S.-backed coup backfired by weakening the Saigon government, Tovar wrote in another essay. “The overthrow of President [Ngo Dinh] Diem constituted the opening of the floodgates of American involvement in Indochina,” he wrote.

“By intruding as it did—crassly and blind to the consequences—the burden of responsibility for winning or losing was removed once and for all from South Vietnamese shoulders, and placed upon America’s own.”

Tovar also cautioned CIA leaders about discussing covert action options with their underlings, “whose instincts and training guarantee an immediate can-do response.”

“Momentum develops rapidly,” he said in the collection of essays, titled Intelligence Requirements for the 1980s: Covert Action. “Conceptualizing is superseded by planning. Policy emerges in high secrecy and, before anyone realizes it, the project is a living, pulsating, snorting entity with a dynamic all its own.”

Newsweek national security correspondent Jeff Stein served as a military intelligence case officer in South Vietnam during 1968-69.

Vietnam building deterrent against China in disputed seas with submarines

The Vietnamese are likely to run so-called area denial operations off its coast and around its military bases in the Spratly island chain of the South China Sea.

(Reuters) – Vietnam will soon have a credible naval deterrent to China in the South China Sea in the form of Kilo-class submarines from Russia, which experts say could make Beijing think twice before pushing its much smaller neighbor around in disputed waters.

A master of guerrilla warfare, Vietnam has taken possession of two of the state-of-the-art submarines and will get a third in November under a $2.6 billion deal agreed with Moscow in 2009. A final three are scheduled to be delivered within two years.

While communist parties rule both Vietnam and China and annual trade has risen to $50 billion, Hanoi has long been wary of China, especially over Beijing’s claims to most of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea.

Sailors look at a model of a submarine which is scheduled for delivery to Vietnam in 2013, in Vietnam's northern port city of Hai Phong, in this October 21, 2011 file picture.   REUTERS/Kham

Beijing’s placement of an oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam earlier this year infuriated Hanoi but the coastguard vessels it dispatched to the platform were always chased off by larger Chinese boats.

The Vietnamese are likely to run so-called area denial operations off its coast and around its military bases in the Spratly island chain of the South China Sea once the submarines are fully operational, experts said.

That would complicate Chinese calculations over any military move against Vietnamese holdings in the Spratlys or in the event of an armed clash over disputed oil fields, even though China has a much larger navy, including a fleet of 70 submarines, they added.

“Sea denial means creating a psychological deterrent by making sure a stronger naval rival never really knows where your subs might be,” said Collin Koh of Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

“It is classic asymmetric warfare utilized by the weak against the strong and something I think the Vietnamese understand very well. The question is whether they can perfect it in the underwater dimension.”

TRAINING RUNS

Vietnam is not wasting time getting to grips with its biggest ever arms purchase, the centerpiece of a naval expansion program that state media has kept largely under wraps.

From the sheltered harbor of Cam Ranh Bay – home to a massive U.S. military base during the Vietnam War – the first two submarines have recently been sighted plying the Vietnamese coast on training runs, according to regional diplomats.

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A Vietnamese crew is training aboard its third Kilo in waters off St Petersburg ahead of its delivery to Cam Ranh Bay in November, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported last month.

And a fourth vessel is undergoing sea trials off the Russian city’s Admiralty Shipyard while the last two are being built.

While regional military attaches and experts are trying to gauge how quickly Vietnamese crews are mastering the advanced submarines, some believe it won’t be too long before Hanoi starts sending them further offshore into the South China Sea.

“The Vietnamese have changed the whole scenario – they already have two submarines, they have the crews and they appear to have the weapons and their capabilities and experience will be growing from this point,” said Siemon Wezeman, an arms transfer researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

“From the point of view of Chinese assumptions, the Vietnamese deterrent is already at a point where it must be very real.”

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As well as possessing shorter-range torpedoes, modern Kilos while submerged can launch sea-skimming anti-ship missiles that can travel 300 km (188 miles).

Wezeman said SIPRI estimated that Vietnam had received at least 10 of the 50 Klub anti-ship missiles this year as part of the deal with Moscow, but there was no sign of any purchases of the Klub land-attack variant.

Zhang Baohui, a Chinese security specialist at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University, said he believed Beijing’s military planners were concerned about the submarines.

“On a theoretical level, the Vietnamese are at the point where they could put them to combat use,” he said.

Neither China’s Defense Ministry nor its Foreign Ministry responded to a request for comment.

“DEFENSIVE” WEAPONS

Senior Vietnamese military officials told Reuters they were satisfied with progress, saying training at sea and integration of the submarines into its developing naval force was going smoothly.

They stopped short of confirming whether the first two were fully operational but stressed they would be used “defensively”.

“They are not our sole weapon, but part of a number of weapons we are developing to better protect our sovereignty. In that regard, the submarines will be defensive,” said one military official in Hanoi who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

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That echoes public comments from Deputy Defence Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh who has repeatedly stated, without mentioning China directly, that Vietnam would not start a conflict in the South China Sea but if one began “we would not just stand back and watch”.

Vietnam – a traditional army power – has significantly expanded its navy in recent years, acquiring modern frigates and corvettes, mostly from Russia, that are equipped with anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons.

Hanoi has also embarked on a building program of ships based on Russian designs.

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Vietnam and China have a bloody history, fighting a brief border war in 1979. They clashed at sea in 1988 when China occupied its first holdings in the Spratlys. China also took full control of another South China Sea island chain, the Paracels, after a naval showdown with the then South Vietnam in 1974.

Former Western submariners watching developments said they were impressed with the apparent progress despite the enormity of the challenge for Vietnam in developing a submarine capability from scratch.

By comparison, the Philippines, the other country most at loggerheads with Beijing in the South China Sea, has no submarines or modern naval surface ships or significant naval aircraft.

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Even before Vietnam took delivery of its first Kilo in January, Vietnamese submariners had been receiving training in Russia, Hanoi’s Cold War-era patron.

India’s navy is also training Vietnamese crews at its INS Satavahana submarine center in Andhra Pradesh state, an Indian naval official told Reuters. India has operated Kilos since the mid-1980s.

“It is not just about learning basic operational considerations, it is about the doctrine and tactics of how best to exploit these vessels – and making sure you’ve got a long-term program to build all this up,” one Western submariner said.

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MORE ADVANCED THAN CHINA’S KILOS

The diesel-electric Kilo is considered one of the quietest submarines and has been constantly refined since the 1980s.

Vasily Kashin, a Moscow-based strategic analyst, said he believed Vietnam’s Kilos were more technologically advanced than the 12 such vessels operated by China’s navy, which obtained its last one a decade ago.

Internal sound absorption had been improved, along with weapon control and loading systems, he said.

Open source satellite images have shown Kilos alongside new Russian-built submarine wharves at Cam Ranh Bay, as well as a new dry dock for repairs. A medical facility for submariners has also been completed nearby, according to Russian media reports.

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Russian personnel are also stationed at a new Russian-built training center in Cam Ranh, which includes simulators of control, navigation and weapons systems.

U.S. forces used the bay’s sheltered features to build a vast airport and logistics base at the height of the Vietnam War in the 1960s, when Cam Ranh was part of the then South Vietnam.

By late 1978 it was in Soviet hands, as a victorious Hanoi signed over base rights to Moscow. In disrepair through much of the 1990s, the Russians could not negotiate an extension and departed in 2002.

Across the harbor from the sensitive submarine facilities, the Vietnamese are expanding ship repair yards they hope will attract a range of foreign navies at commercial rates.

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The U.S. navy has sent several logistics ships for servicing but a more formal arrangement has yet to be agreed.

Former Western submariners say Cam Ranh’s location is perfect for Vietnam’s Kilos.

Not only is it the closest large port to the Spratlys to the south, it is also within range of the Paracels.

And while much of the South China Sea is shallow and presents difficult operating conditions for submarines, Cam Ranh is close to some of the deeper water off the edge of Vietnam’s continental shelf.

“No-one should underestimate the Vietnamese – they have a clear threat and that gives them an extra incentive,” said Wezeman of SIPRI.

Vo Trong Nghia architects stacks house for trees in vietnam

vo trong nghia architects stacks house for trees in vietnam

in response to the rapid and near total urbanization of vietnamese cities, vo trong nghia architects has designed a prototypical house as part of an ongoing initiative to reverse the trend. built within ho chi minh – a region where only 0.25% area of the city is covered with greenery – the dwelling seeks to reconnect its residents with the natural environment. entitled ‘house for trees’, the scheme comprises five individual concrete boxes envisioned as planters. as a result of the unit’s thick layer of soil, the dwellings also serve as basins, retaining water and reducing the risk of flooding.

vo trong nghia architects house for trees vietnam designboom
the scheme is built within ho chi minh – a region where only 0.25% of the landscape is covered with greenery

located in one of the most densely populated areas of the vietnamese capital, the site is positioned on a landlocked suburban block, only accessible via a pedestrian lane. the project is conceived as an accumulation of individual fragments, standing out amid the surrounding formal row houses. in order to minimize costs, (the entire project was constructed for $156,000 USD), and reduce the scheme’s carbon footprint, local and natural materials are employed throughout the design. external walls are made from in-situ concrete with bamboo formwork, with internal finishes exposing locally-sourced bricks.

vo trong nghia architects house for trees vietnam designboom
the dwelling seeks to reconnect its residents with the natural environment

filling the unconventionally shaped site, the five units are positioned around a central courtyard, creating further small and interconnected gardens. large glass doors and operable windows at ground floor level ensure that each dwelling offers abundant light and ventilation, while making certain that the building remains secure and private. common areas such as the dining room and library are located at the lower storey, while above, upper floors accommodate private bedrooms and bathrooms. blurring divisions between inside and outside, the courtyard and gardens – shaded by the trees above – become part of ground floor living space.

vo trong nghia architects house for trees vietnam designboom
the five individual units are positioned around a central courtyard

vo trong nghia architects house for trees vietnam designboom
upper floors accommodate private bedrooms and bathrooms

vo trong nghia architects house for trees vietnam designboom
external walls are made from in-situ concrete with bamboo formwork

vo trong nghia architects house for trees vietnam designboomlarge glass doors at ground floor level ensure that each dwelling offers abundant light and ventilation

vo trong nghia architects house for trees vietnam designboom
the entire project was constructed for just $156,000 USD

project info:

project name: house for trees
architect firm: vo trong nghia architects
principal architects: vo trong nghia, masaaki iwamoto, kosuke nishijima (3 principals)
project architect: nguyen tat dat
contractor: wind and water house JSC
status: built in 04.2014
program: private house
location: tanbinh, ho chi minh city
gfa: 226.5 sqm
footprint: 111.7 sqm
site area: 474.3 sqm
maximum height: 10.3 m
construction cost: 156,000 USD

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