Developing design options for housing in disaster-prone areas of central Vietnam

Tran, T 2015, Developing design options for housing in disaster-prone areas of central Vietnam, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Architecture and Urban Design, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Developing design options for housing in disaster-prone areas of central Vietnam
Author(s) Tran, T
Year 2015
Abstract Building community resilience against climate hazards is one of the most important goals for socio-economic development in Central Vietnam, due to the high exposure of this region to climate change and the increasingly unpredictable occurrence of the future climate. Housing is one of the key sectors in community development planning and also in building resilience of provinces and cities in this region. However, how to enable and develop disaster-resilient housing is still problematic, and becomes a real challenge to governments, housing providers, donors, planners, implementers, and local actors. Within this sense, the present study is an effort to bridge this gap through providing a comprehensive analysis of design-related issues in developing disaster-resilient housing and identifying practical ways of achieving resilient housing outcomes in the context of Central Vietnam.

Floods and storms are considered to be the biggest natural hazards to local housing in this region. Post-disaster houses provided by stakeholders show a strong link to the resilience of the involved households and communities. Housing reconstruction not only helps rebuild damaged or destroyed houses but also opens up opportunities for gaining long-term stability and development of the community involved. The present study examines three key themes of post-disaster housing reconstruction, primarily identified from the literature review: (i) community consultation, (ii) the role of built-environment professionals, and (iii) design principles for resilience; in order to seek core issues for building a resilient housing system in Central Vietnam.

Since this study adopted a qualitative research, the interpretive model was applied to investigate the research problems above. This study used the Case Study method, a common way for carrying out qualitative research, to guide the research process. Four disaster-affected communities in four vulnerable provinces of Central Vietnam were selected as the case studies. These communities comprise Hoa Hiep Bac, Loc Tri, Ia Broai and Tan Ninh, where housing of local people, especially those on a low income, is seriously affected by annual storms and floods. The comparison between these case studies and the three key themes above (i, ii and iii) enables the identification of the core issues associated with housing resilience enhancement, and of how to achieve this through housing design-related solutions.

In terms of the first theme, community consultation, the study found two appropriate forms of consultation, community meetings and separate household interviews, for information and knowledge sharing at the local grassroots level to bring disaster-resilient housing outcomes. Vulnerable households, local construction workers, built-environment professionals and local committees for flood and storm control are found to be the key actors in this consultation process, whose contributions and inputs are useful for the desired outcome of disaster-resilient housing. In addition, the study indicates the necessity of incorporating the process in three supportive mechanisms - technical, financial and legal - to enable effective communication and consultation between vulnerable groups and technical parties (e.g. local architecture offices, local construction firms) for safe and resilient housing development.

In relation to the second theme, the role of built-environment professionals (BEPs), the study identifies three core issues associated with the involvement of BEPs. These are (1) the economic constraints of vulnerable households, (2) limited understanding of local actors on safe housing, and (3) lack of incentive schemes to sustain innovative or resilient ideas, as the three major obstacles to the involvement of BEPs. The study also shows a potential role of architects in developing disaster-resilient housing and delivering resilient housing design options for the low-income population in Central Vietnam.

Regarding the third theme, design principles for resilience, the study found that safety-related considerations need to go along with the cost efficiency and cultural appropriateness of disaster-resilient housing. This demand needs to be addressed in the design process of residential housing. To provide affordable houses for vulnerable households, who usually belong to the low-income group, the study emphasises the necessity of identifying an acceptable level of safety for the designed house(s), to maximize the use of local resources in construction, and to ensure cost efficiency of future housing extensions or renovations. In addition, the spatial design of the house needs to address the cultural and social characteristics of the occupants or householders to ensure their satisfaction and adoption.

Based on the findings within each of the three themes above, this study develops a framework for disaster-resilient low-income housing within the context of Central Vietnam. This framework is a useful, practical reference guide for architects and building designers responsible for or involved in the design and construction of disaster-resilient housing in this region. This study also generates some important policy implications for low-income housing development in Central Vietnam, such as: (1) applying building permits or similar forms of permission to control unsafe construction practices in vulnerable areas; (2) improving consultative/ communicative mechanisms for better information exchange and knowledge sharing between stakeholders at multiple levels; and (3) intensifying bottom-up approaches alongside the top-down ones to fully capture the local situations, community feedback, and local needs and capacities.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Architecture and Urban Design
Subjects Architectural Design
Built Environment and Design not elsewhere classified
Design Practice and Management not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) Disaster resilient housing
Community consultation
Role of built-environment professionals
Resilient design
Design response
Central Vietnam
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