Jofelle P. Tesorio HO CHI MINH CITY - A Vietnamese-Japanese design of a university campus has received a Silver Award and a prize money of $200,000 at the Global Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction. The low-impact greenfield university campus from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Architecture on an island in the Mekong Delta aims to harmonise the elements of the surrounding ecosystem-flooding rice fields, winds and seasonal changes. Designed by Japanese architect Kazuhiro Kojima with contributions from architects Daisuke Sanuki and Vo Trong Nghia of Vietnam, the project was selected from almost 5,000 construction plans from 121 countries entered at the competition. During the hand-over ceremony hosted by Holcim Vietnam on July 3 at HCM City, the proposal was recognised principally for its sensitivity to ecological and energy conservation and for its consideration of the correlation between a learning institution and its environment. The design aims to blend the 40ha campus outside HCM City with its natural environment and uses prevalent winds for natural ventilation of buildings and open circulation areas to reduce the use of air-conditioning. The project avoids massive reclamation of land and also emulates traditions of Southeast Asian agricultural civilisations. The design considers the sensitivity of its location and requirements of a growing student population. The jury for the global awards was particularly impressed with the ingenuity shown in the proposal. Blending into the context of light, winds and water allows reducing the ecological footprint to a minimum. Daylight and natural ventilation are used to maximum. Rainwater is harvested. Local materials like bamboo and mangroves are used whenever possible, the jury observed. According to Marcus Akermann, chairman of the management board of the Holcim Foundation and CEO of Holcim Ltd, the Greenfield University campus will be a future seat of architecture in Vietnam and will serve as a challenge for new minds to tackle sustainable development, which is not just a buzzword but should be serious commitment of governments and the private sector. Exploring sustainable approaches for the built environment is best achieved through innovation and leveraging the broad perspectives of international project teams-as this project clearly illustrations, added Akermann, noting the design was collaboration of Japanese and Vietnamese architects. Architect Kazuhiro Kojima said the construction of the project would start at the end of next year. The Holcim Awards is an international competition of the Holcim Foundation and offers prize money of $2 million prize money per three-year competition cycle. The next cycle of competition will be opened for entries on July 1, 2010. For this cycle, the Gold for the global awards went to the river remediation and urban development scheme in Fez, the oldest of Moroccos four imperial cities. The Bronze award went to a proposal on sustainable planning for a rural community in Beijing, China, which aims at improving the logistics, public utilities and services while meeting stringent ecological targets for new buildings. Simon Upton, chairman of the OECD roundtable on sustainable development, who provided the keynote address at the hand-over ceremony, said there is no shortage of technological ingenuity and Asia is a place of phenomenal growth and development. Growth, he added, creates opportunities and the challenge is to make viable opportunities into realities. Asia News Network