S Space

H&P Architects

S Space is located in Dong Van town (Ha Nam province) not far from a large and polluted industrial park in an emerging urban area with a high construction density. It is an open space for the community with a focus on periodical cultural and artistic programming. A coffee space provides daily activity.

The design inspiration came from the beauty of the natural landscape of Kem Trong. Illegal rock mining is gradually turning this famous place into ruins. The design makes use of waste (steel scaffolding pipes, rock debris from Kem Trong and discarded rocks from trade villages and construction sites) to express the nostalgia and regret of local people at the bygones of the landscape.

The design is based on the idea of a gap – a river – between two mountains. Stone walls (0.4 metres thick and 3.4 metres high) zigzag intermittently and connect randomly through doors and openings, enabling multiple approaches. Trees help regulate the microclimate, create a pleasant aspect and bring people closer to a sense of nature.

Suspended above is a ‘big cloud’ of lightweight roofing and mezzanine flooring created with steel scaffolding pipes and bamboo, all of which make a fragile but solid and elastic structure in contrast to the thickness and density of the rock ‘cave’ beneath. Sprinklers and mist sprayers on the transparent polycarbonate roofing keep it cool on hot summer days.

‘Clouds and mountains’ offer primitive and dream-like images, but at the same time evoke strange feelings. Experiencing S Space (the ‘S’ indicating ‘Save the Stone and Scaffolding’) also brings to mind dead metal trees. The project helps raise awareness of the unplanned exploitation of natural resources in Vietnam today, which have wiped out many rock formations with historical and cultural value, resulting in a serious imbalance between the natural ecosystem and the human one. In this sense, S Space conveys the message: “Architecture bears responsibility for the natural and socio-cultural environment.”

Photography: Nguyen Tien Thanh.