“Ensure environmental sustainability” is one of the eight "Millennium Development Goals” by United Nations, according to which the number of people without access to basic sanitation will decrease by 50% from 2000 to 2015. Access to sanitation facilities has been recognized as a human right. All over the world, about 2.5 billion people currently lack that access and more than a billion people (15% of the world population) are still defecating outdoors. The uncontrolled waste water discharge would also be an environmental disaster, because it harms human health (every year 1.7 billion people suffer from diarrhea and 760000 children die for cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, etc...). Lack of sanitary equipment and facilities also causes tremendous economical damage: According to World Bank, in India that condition costs this country more than 53 billions USD every year, accounting for nearly 6% of its GDP.
In Vietnam, it is common to see the lack of toilet or clean toilet in schools across the country. Currently, 88% of schools in countryside have no toilet meeting criteria by the National Ministry of Health and a quarter do not have toilet at all.
Son Lap Commune, Bao Lac, Cao Bang Province has 257 households (1,700 inhabitants), 98% of which are the ethnic minority H’Mong and Dao. As an extremely poor area with more than 70% of the population living in poverty, people have to live a life without electricity, infrastructure, road, market, telecommunication network... Following the shifting cultivation of wandering hill tribes, they have destroyed forests and abide by traditions such as having many children in a family, of whom only few could go to school.
Son Lap School has a total of 485 students from kindergarten to secondary levels with more than ten classes at the main school, four branch schools, and some staff housing. None of them meets the minimum standards, specifically in terms of sanitary and washing facilities.
Thus, a space including toilet + washing area + vegetation is very urgent, both to this school in particular and in Vietnam countryside in general. Named Toigetation, the project has been designed based on three objectives: quick construction, low cost, and widely applicability.
Solution: Inspired by the iconic image of a large tree with wide canopy giving shade for the space below and within, Toigetation humbly blends into the slope at the foot of Mt Phja Da. It includes a thick layer of vegetation (trees and herbs) on its four sides and the surrounding terraced garden. The vegetation layer helps regulating indoor climate, reinforcing the load-bearing structure, supplying food and at the same time creating an implied boundary between inside and outside.
Toigetation is created by local human resources (teachers, students, people) & local materials (bamboo, brick, reused sewers) with a simple construction method (dig/fill proportion of 1/1; handcraft methods: pin, tie, hang), which makes the structure resistant to natural disasters. The project has fully natural ventilation and lighting. In addition, we also use solar panels for producing energy and reuse waste water and running water.
Users can appreciate the dialogue between the project, nature, and local community. The construction methods would be useful teaching materials such as Geology and Hydrology (water), Physics (light diffusion), Aerodynamics (ventilation), Biology (photosynthesis, vegetable planting), Agriculture — all of which will affect the future actions of the people, contributing to the development of the local ecological balance and stable economy.
People from across the country can quickly build a Toigetation by themselves within three weeks at a cost of $3000. We hope the Toigetation could considerably improve human rights in Vietnam.