We may take plumbing for granted, but 15 percent of the global population still lives without toilets. In Vietnam, up to 88 percent of rural schools have no sewage facilities. That’s what makes Toigetation such a life-changing accomplishment. Sited on a hillside in northern Vietnam, the washroom – which contains showers, toilets, urinals and washbasins – was constructed to serve 485 children from the nearby Son Lap School in Cao Bang province.
H&P Architects, a firm based in Hanoi and run by principals Doàn Thanh Hà and Tran Ngoc Phuong, began work on Toigetation with three objectives in mind: quick construction, cost effectiveness, and a design that could easily be reproduced at other schools. Remarkably, Toigetation was built in three weeks for just US$3,000. The simple brick structure is shaded on all sides by bamboo trellises that reach from the ground to the roof. Vegetation climbs up the struts to provide shade and privacy, and also to look good, as an unobtrusive addition to the treed setting.
Urinals and washbasins have been made out of repurposed sewer pipes, and waste water and rainwater are filtered and reused to maintain the garden. With solar panels on the corrugated sheet metal roof, the facility is lit up at night. What’s also remarkable about Toigetation is how it was built. H&P had the students, teachers and neighbours pitch in with construction as a way to pass on the skills needed to build more units, and to introduce children to the guiding principles of good design.
About the firm: Established in Hanoi in 2009, H&P Architects is an award-winning full-service studio, with projects that range from master plans to viable building solutions for developing communities. In 2014, the firm won a WAN House of the Year award for a bamboo structure that can be built quickly and at a low cost. Team: DoÀn Thanh HÀ and Tran Ngoc Phuong with Chu Kim Thinh, Chu Van Dong, Patricia Erimescu, Hoang Huu Nam, Luc Van Tu, Nguyen Hai Hue, Nguyen Thi Xuyen, Nguyen Tri Thanh, Nguyen Van Manh and Vo Quynh Thu
What the jury said: “Toigetation is a wonderfully sensitive project, entirely appropriate for its context. Low-maintenance plantings, natural ventilation and creative strategies for water reuse are elegant, natural solutions to address the need for toilets in remote areas.” – Janet Rosenberg