VAC Library: Open library becomes learning centre for children in Hanoi to learn about urban farming

An open library-come-city farm-come-kids playground is providing a way for kids in Hanoi, Vietnam to learn about self-sustaining ecosystems and urban farming.

VAC Library is a large wooden climbing frame with various cubicles filled with books. The large wooden structure also houses an integrated production system that is designed to teach kids about sustainable food production. It uses solar-powered aquaponics to keep vegetables and koi carp.

Koi carp swim in the pond adjacent to the structure, crossed via a series of concrete stepping-stones, and several chicken cages sit at the rear of the space. These chickens also contribute to the library’s miniature ecosystem, providing eggs to eat and manure to fertilise the vegetables.

VAC Library was designed by Farming Architects as a way to show children how energy from land, air, water and solar energy can be harvested in order to be completely self-sufficient even within an urban context. Farming Architects say the aim is not only to produce an effective use of natural resources but also favourite experimentation in using different types of plants and animals in the urban environment.

The core feature for the design of VAC is the aquaponics, which combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. Aquaponics uses circulating water from a fish pond to provide nutrients to plants. Nitrite/nitrite bacterium will transfer the waste from the aquarium into a suitable nutrient-rich crop for plants. Water is also purified by plants and supplied to the aquarium.

Children from the area can use the library not just to read books and learn about eco-living, but also to be part of it by playing with the customisable climbing frame structure.

The VAC Library essentially introduces kids from the city to nature. Children can learn how Koi fish are not only pets to watch, but also play a vital role in the ecosystem as their waste will be carried on the vegetable planters. They can also find out how the water is supplied to the vegetables and then filtered back to the pond, and how the chicken excrement is used in gardening.

Images: © Thach, Viet Dung An

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about sustainable lifestyle and green living for publications, and offers content services to planet-friendly businesses. Find out more at Rosamedea.com 

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