Hoang Thuc Hao, 45, was named the 2015 Architect of the Year for outstanding achievements like the Cam Thanh Community House in Hoi An, which has been applauded by architects across the world. Hao spoke with Viet Nam News about his career and plans for the new year.
Inner Sanctum: Can you tell us about the prize you won at the World Architecture Festival held in Singapore by the World Architecture Union?
My Cam Thanh community house has beaten 500 others to win the first prize for the Civic and Community category. The international jury said it was very genuine, reflecting local character while carrying a message for the entire human race.
The house is well aired and ventilated, and it can prevent storms and heat radiation from solar rays. It is a place for a community to hold a meeting, entertain, read books, hold exhibitions or display local specialities.
The jury also highly appreciated the low-cost materials used for the house, which was mostly made from bamboo available across Viet Nam.
Inner Sanctum: We have heard that apart from the above-mentioned community house, you still have many other works to win world prizes. What are they?
These include the Buttan Happiness Centre, community houses in remote area of Nam Can in the northern province of Ha Giang's Quan Ba District, the Suoi Re in the north-western province of Hoa Binh, and the Ta Phin in Sa Pa, in addition to the flood prevention housing project in the Mekong Delta and schools built with local cheap materials in northern provinces of Phu Tho and Thai Nguyen.
Inner Sanctum: When and what have inspired you to think of architecture in such community works?
From the time I was a student, I had thought about contributing to the community. My colleagues and I had researched and studied the architecture of Bat Trang Pottery Village, a chain of houses to cultivate seedlings from plastic bottles at organic vegetable fields in Ha Noi's Soc Son District and Hai Phong's Do Son and playgrounds for children in Hoi An, Nam Dinh and Hue. They all won Green Good Design awards.
I think architects should not only create constructions with high art values, and be environment-friendly, but they must also practically save people and have a capacity towards orienting them.
Inner Sanctum: Could you tell us about your first architecture design which won a prize?
Over the past 15 years, I joined a contest to design a Viet Nam-Germany Centre launched by German architects. My work had been chosen because it was suitable with the climate in the country but carries a Dutch culture and is being built with cheap aluminium and glass.
Inner Sanctum: Can you introduce yourself and your job?
After graduating from the Construction University's Architecture Department in 1992, I opened my own workshop to design small houses and several public constructions.
In 2003, after finishing a master's degree in Italy about "History, analysis and evaluation architecture heritage constructions and environment", I returned to Viet Nam to teach at the Construction University and spent much more time to join local and foreign architecture contests and competitions.
Inner Sanctum: What do you think about planning and architecture of the capital?
We still do not implement these matters well. I think we need a macro policy for it. Ha Noi needs investors or donors having sufficient capacity in both power and finance. For example, President of France Francois Mitterrand had helped Paris to construct many special architecture projects. He had chaired many international architect contests and chosen many professional and talented architects.
Inner Sanctum: What is your plan this year and in the years to come?
On the one hand, I plan to set up a Happiness Architecture Centre in Ha Noi to make free architecture designs for poor local and foreign people including farmers and disadvantaged schools in remote and isolated areas as well as houses to prevent flooding, while on the other, we are trying to improve our Architecture Office trade mark 1+1>2 by holding exhibitions, seminars and joining international contests and competitions. — VNS