In love with Vietnam

Lucas Conan, A Renovator of Hanoi's Street Playgrounds

Landscape Architect, Lucas Conan, has been involved in projects designing Hanoi’s street playgrounds. His passion is to use his expertise and then work with his Vietnamese partners to renovate and rebuild old community spaces into new playgrounds that harmonize with nature so that Vietnamese children can have their fun in a “worthy living area of Hanoi”.

 

Lucas Conan was born in Germany in 1997 but grew up in France. He studied landscape architecture at the University of Montreal in Quebec, Canada. After graduating, Lucas worked as a teaching assistant at the university and then worked for Oxalis Associated Landscape Architects. Lucas said that he chose Vietnam out of a personal preference because of his appreciation for Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laos culture. During his time doing scientific research, his mentor, Danielle Labbé, who is an expert in Vietnamese urban design, asked Lucas to join her projects. He worked with partners in social enterprises such as Thinkplaygrounds and at the Hanoi University of Civil Engineering.

The urban landscape of Hanoi gave Lucas surprise after surprise. The people of Hanoi live on every alley and street of the capital and the deeper he explored, the deeper he understood the entwinement of their lives with history and ancient architecture. This gives Hanoi a unique, dynamic and lively identity like no other city in the world.

Lucas works with his partners at Thinkplaygrounds. Photo: Files
Lucas Conan talks with locals at Chuong Duong Do ward. Photo: Viet Cuong/VNP

Lucas Conan, Director of Thinkplaygrounds Chu Kim Duc and  youngsters at Forest Garden Playground. Photo: Files

Sketches by architect Lucas Conan. Photo: Viet Cuong/VNP
Lucas Conan and his colleagues discuss measures to improve a playground in Tan Mai, Hanoi. Photo: Files

After coming to Vietnam and collaborating with Thinkplaygrounds, Lucas participated in the design of the "Bo Vo Song Hong Community Forest Garden Playground" on lane 139 Chuong Duong Do. Prior to the project, this place was a polluted landfill toxic to the neighborhood. Lucas provided technical support (landscape architecture and urban agricultural design) to the project using his hands-on experience in landscape design projects he had done in Canada and Europe. This project was also his favorite.

After it is finished and open to the public, the playground will open up a beautiful natural landscape on the banks of the Red River and the community there. It is especially important for the children, who will finally have their own space for fun.

When the forest garden project began shaping up, young people came from four cities around the world including Mexico, Paris, Montreal and Hanoi to discuss public initiatives. Lucas is the facilitator of the Vietnam - Canada - France forest garden community.

Lucas Conan at the project "Bo Vo Song Hong Community
Forest Garden Playground".
Photo: Viet Cuong/VNP
He is very happy when the forest garden is covered with green trees. Photo: Viet Cuong/VNP
Lucas Conan teaches students from Chuong Duong Do school in drawing their dream living space. Photo: Viet Cuong/VNP

The joy of Lucas Conan when he witnesses children playing in the new space of

the project "Bo Vo Song Hong Community Forest Garden Playground". Photo: Viet Cuong/VNP

The "Bo Vo Song Hong Community Forest Garden Playground" started in early 2021. It was with the collaboration of the Women's Union of Chuong Duong Ward, who planted trees to create a green forest garden. Lucas went there to do surveys, and to work and then became a close friend of the community, who were able to see the day by day progress of the project. As the playground has been taking shape, the community forest garden also began to develop.

Lucas designed the first community forest garden in Hanoi using the natural approach, which was chemical-free and connected with the network of community gardens in the city. His greatest reward was seeing the smiles of the people, especially children, when they went to the green playground.

Lucas also participated in the design and renovation of the playground for residential group No 2 in Tan Mai, Hanoi. This is a new and special playground designed so that disabled children can also enjoy it.

In addition to street playground projects, Lucas is also a member of a scientific network that includes the University of Montreal, the Vietnam Institute of Social Sciences and the Hanoi University of Civil Engineering and conducted research about children experience with public spaces in Hanoi.

With the enthusiasm of someone who loves Vietnam, Lucas continues using his knowledge and expertise to support his Vietnamese partners in carrying out urban playground projects to transform abandoned or polluted spaces into green spaces that connect residential communities with nature.


Story: BICH VAN/VNP Photos: VIET CUONG & FILES Translated by HONG HANH

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