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VN-Ho Chi Minh City Competition VGU-campus, fourth prize
The international competition for the new Vietnamese-German University (VGU) near Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam has been decided. The fourth prize was awarded to the consortium led by ASTOC Architects and Planners and Riegler Riewe Architects.

The Government of Vietnam is focusing on building a higher education system. The “New Model University Project” is adopting design principles and standards from leading universities in the world, considering the conditions in Vietnam. The VGU is one out of four universities within the project and is funded by the World Bank, the German Federal Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education of the German state of Hesse.

The campus is located on 50 ha in My Phuoc, a new urban development area northwest of Ho Chi Minh City. It consists of the areas: education and research, science park, sports and support services, student and faculty housing.

The main idea of the project is to create a unique design for the VGU campus in Ho Chi Minh City, which embodies the nature and qualities of a typical middle European campus. By merging German and Vietnamese educational constraints as well as important aspects of everyday life of both countries, we created a self-sufficient urban setting that will create and prosper as a unique campus for a special university model with the ambition of becoming a high ranking university in Asia.

With the elements of the context and the city implant, we developed means to create relationships that go beyond the campus itself. The river banks form a continuous band in form of a green public space exceeding the limits of the site and connecting the site to the context. In the surrounding master plan, special buildings are positioned in the bends of the river. To reflect this, the campus site is marked by the main entrance of the campus with its landmark buildings, the ceremony hall and the science park.

The university program and the campus city form one entity. The urban design concept proposes a dense and compact city with a strong rectangular outline that marks the edges of the campus buildings. The rectangular shape of the city is structured by ribbons of buildings separated by streets and are interrupted by a vivid rhythm of small alleys. Superimposed to the grid-like structure we find the diagonal boulevard that links the main access with the center of the campus.

The central green, Broadway like, axis represents the main artery of the campus´ "soft infrastructure". Pedestrian circulation, water retention and recreational high quality outdoor spaces are the main functions of this "green vein.Green pocket parks to the east and west bring in the landscape deep into the campus and subdivide the housing areas into livable neighborhood quarters.

The diagonal main access leads directly to the heart of the campus. The center is formed by two key buildings of the university: lecture hall to the north and library to the south. These landmark buildings dominate the center of the campus with their special function, size and architectural appearance. Between the key buildings spans the main plaza and a linear park.Along the main plaza in the center of the city, a series of smaller squares in the surrounding neighborhoods form vibrant focal points of campus live.

Other than expected, our mission became to design a whole city with many different functions such as living and working, functions of the daily use and last but not least a university with dormitories, offices, laboratories, library and lecture hall. This setting makes the task more complex, but also more fascinating. University architecture can be the prototype of an interdisciplinary, open minded communication between people, regardless of which nationality, religious affiliation or age group they are. To create platforms for informal communication and intensive discussions is a basic challenge to work on this project. The main impact of environmentally friendly, ecological orientated, flexible and sustainable as well as aesthetic university architecture, might be inspiring future generations to be highly sensitive and responsible for any kind of human life cycles and global circumstances.

In collaboration with Riegler Riewe Architects, Marina Stankovich Architects, YO2 Architects, Dr. Binnewies Ingenieurgesellschaft, Amstein+Walthert AG, Agence Ter and Transsolar Energietechnik