This Vietnamese University Is Turning Its Campus Into a Forest

It seems that pollution on the Earth is so great that clean air is never enough. Even urban colleges need the touch of nature around them.

On the privately-owned FPT University’s new 14-square-mile campus in Ho Chi Minh City, students will soon appear as if they are studying in a forest instead of in the midst of a city of nearly 8 million people.

The Vietnam-based designers at Vo Trong Nghia Architects are building an academic oasis where almost every surface is lined with trees. 

The staggered levels of each building on campus will be filled with a vegetation of trees and plants, shading the interiors. The roofs will also be home to a variety of trees that will insulate, aid storm water runoff, and offset the urban heat island effect normally associated with concrete-laden cities.

The buildings surround a courtyard fully shaded by tall trees, giving the campus the overgrown look of a building abandoned to the jungle. 

The campus is a stark contrast to other parts of Ho Chi Minh City, where in 2010 officials estimated that green space had shrunk by half in the previous decade, resulting in a landscape of only 1,300 acres of leafy greenery and parks. 

Vietnam has a history of frequent blackouts due to overloaded electric grids (one 2013 blackout affected an amazing number of 8 million people in southern Vietnam and Cambodia), and the designers posit that the shade and greenery will lessen the school’s reliance on electricity-sapping air conditioners.

The firm previously designed an equally verdant administrative building in Hanoi for the same university, whose campus is now under construction. 

Pockets of plantings will be dispersed throughout the staggered floors of the building, framing the expansive courtyard at its center. 

“Pockets of planting will be dispersed throughout the staggered floors of the building, framing the expansive courtyard at its center,” the university announced in a release. “The number of floors will increase towards the corners of the plot and fall in the flanks to create a gently undulating outline that counters the city’s typically vertical blocks.” But, as of now, no start or completion date of the plan has been announced.

According to Architectural Digest, using vegetation as a form of architectural structure “has been a hallmark of Vo Trong Nghia Architects.” Among the firm’s vegetation-heavy portfolio is a farming kindergarten in Dongnai, Vietnam, completed back in 2013, and the bamboo-heavy Vietnam Pavilion for EXPO Milano in April 2015.

However, this “urban flossing” is a growing need of the grossly polluted cities around the world. And hopefully, architects on all continents, will follow this extraordinary example set by the urban “architectural outfitters” at Vo Trong Nghia Architects in the near future.

The sooner the process of urban terraced foresting starts, the better for all of us!