+

Here is Vietnam.

It occupies the easternmost coast of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia.


Image by Lưu Ly/Wikimedia Commons.

Here is Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon).

Located in southern Vietnam, it's the country's largest city, with a population of almost 8 million people.

And here's what Ho Chi Minh City looks like.

It's a big city with big buildings and lots of people, which makes for many a challenge.

Photo by Tartarin2009/Flickr.

"Cities, especially in thriving countries like Vietnam, are growing at such a speed that infrastructure is unable to keep pace," said the team at Vo Trong Nghia Architects in an interview with Dezeen Magazine. "Environmental stress is observable through frequent energy shortages, increased pollution, rising temperatures, and reduced greenery."

When the architects were asked to design a new urban university campus in Ho Chi Minh City, they had something radically non-urban in mind.

What they produced was a verdant design — grassy, leafy, nature-inspired. It's like a city within a city, intentionally overrun by vegetation.

Welcome to the jungle, kids. All images by Vo Trong Nghia Architects/FPT University.

The firm, which specializes in green architecture, is bringing their expertise to FPT University, a private university in Ho Chi Minh City, for the second time. Their first project is currently under construction in Hanoi.

They describe their approach as a blend of culture and sustainability:

"By experimenting with light, wind and water, and by using natural and local materials, Vo Trong Nghia Architects employ a contemporary design vocabulary to explore new ways to create green architecture for the 21st century, whilst maintaining the essence of Asian architectural expression."

Their design for the university stands out against Ho Chi Minh City's built-up urban sprawl.

They wanted a different kind of sprawl — a 242,000 square-foot site that explodes with plant life. The centerpiece is a unique building stretching over several city blocks, its staggered floors climbing higher in the corners, and framing a massive courtyard.

They don't just use greenery to adorn the structure. Their concept actually relies on it.

Balconies and rooftops will be lined with plants, giving the building the appearance of "an undulating forested mountain growing out of the city."

Trees will spring from the courtyard.

And gardens will be planted at every step and turn.

All of this, according to the architects, "will provide shade and improve air quality, reducing the campus' reliance on air conditioning." And to save water, ground level gardens will seep into circulation wells that feed plants throughout the building.

They want to give Ho Chi Minh City "a new icon for sustainability."

Rapid urbanization has turned Ho Chi Minh City into a heat island, which is when cities grow warmer than their rural surroundings because land, plants, and forests have been replaced by heat-trapping concrete, brick, steel, and asphalt.

Photo by Gareth Williams/Flickr.

Today, say the architects, only 0.25% of the Ho Chi Minh City is covered with plant life. They think that while urbanization may be inevitable, turning our cities into ovens doesn't have to be.

So they get especially excited about designing educational facilities. To them, it's a chance to "aid the recovery of greenery that once flourished" and "foster a new generation of thinkers."

And if more students, like the future enrollees of FPT University's new campus, can be exposed to and learn to truly appreciate the astonishing form and function of nature, then there is, indeed, hope for the future of our cities — and our planet.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

Keep ReadingShow less

People have clearly missed their free treats.

The COVID-19 pandemic had us waving a sad farewell to many of life’s modern conveniences. And where it certainly hasn’t been the worst loss, not having free samples at grocery stores has undoubtedly been a buzzkill. Sure, one can shop around without the enticing scent of hot, fresh artisan pizza cut into tiny slices or testing out the latest fancy ice cream … but is it as joyful? Not so much.

Trader Joe’s, famous for its prepandemic sampling stations, has recently brought the tradition back to life, and customers are practically dancing through the aisles.


On the big comeback weekend, people flocked to social media to share images and videos of their free treats, including festive Halloween cookies (because who doesn’t love TJ’s holiday themed items?) along with hopeful messages for the future.
Keep ReadingShow less

She's enjoying the big benefits of some simple life hacks.

James Clear’s landmark book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” has sold more than 9 million copies worldwide. The book is incredibly popular because it has a simple message that can help everyone. We can develop habits that increase our productivity and success by making small changes to our daily routines.

"It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis,” James Clear writes. “It is only when looking back 2 or 5 or 10 years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.”

His work proves that we don’t need to move mountains to improve ourselves, just get 1% better every day.

Most of us are reluctant to change because breaking old habits and starting new ones can be hard. However, there are a lot of incredibly easy habits we can develop that can add up to monumental changes.

Keep ReadingShow less