VIENTIANE, LAOS, 2004A collaboration of SIGUS, School of Architecture and Planning, MIT; Faculty of Architecture, National University of Laos; and CENDEP, Oxford Brookes University, England.
In January 2004, SIGUS undertook a 2-week workshop in Vientiane, Laos, partnering with students from the National University of Laos and from Oxford Brookes University, England. The workshop targeted five low-income villages in the city, where student teams worked with the communities in defining the key concerns and brainstorming improvement projects and strategies.
MIT students continued in Laos after the 2-week workshop on individual research interests, ranging from further research in their village to broader policy studies. The individual research was further developed and debated at MIT during the spring semester, and finalized at the end of the term.
Funding for the workshop was from several sources: architecture students were subsidized airfare by the Department of Architecture; planning students were subsidized airfare by the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Additional funding was from the MIT Service Learning Program, the Caminos Endowment, and the Helena Rubinstein Foundation.
VILLAGE REPORTS BY THE COLLABORATIVE TEAMS:
The Five Low-Income Villages in Vientiane and Recommended Initiatives
The development of initiatives for the improvement of the five settlements surveyed was a group defined effort. Participants from diverse backgrounds (architecture, planning, engineering, real estate; from MIT, Oxford, Laos, and Thailand) were organized into teams, together with a partner community.
Nongbouathong Tai VillageInitiatives:
Harddonechan Island - That Khao VillageInitiatives:
Nong Duang Thong VillageInitiative:
Ban Dong Pa Lanh ThaInitiatives:
INDIVIDUAL REPORTS BY MIT STUDENTS
The reports are individual efforts. The research topics were selected and developed according to the participant's interest.
Migration and Informal Networks as Effective and Equitable Strategies of Poverty Reductionby Erin Camarena
This paper traces the history of an informal settlement in Vientiane, tracing the trends and motivations of migration, as well as exploring the characteristics, potentials and limitations of the informal networks. See: report
Looking Beyond 'Celebrating' Heritage: Baalbeck and Luang Prabang: A Story of Two World Heritage Sitesby Hiba Bou Akar
A discussion of the rules and restrictions resulting from World Heritage status, their impacts on the communities and suggestions for improvement. Baalbeck in Lebanon and Luang Prabang in northern Laos are compared, with both exhibiting similar characteristics. See: report
Foreign Investment in the Lao Real Estate Market: A Case Studyby Whitney Foutz
Problems and benefits of foreign investment using the example of a 14-story hotel and conference center now under construction in Vientiane. The paper questions whether the benefits are worth the loss of an environmentally sensitive island and the displacement of hundreds of families. See: report
Involuntary Resettlement in Lao PDRby Justin Pauly
Overview of the flawed resettlement policies when compared to field experience and accepted World Bank policies. Includes reflections on obstacles to more equitable policies and on the current approach in the Nam Theun-2 Dam being planned. See: report
Short Stories and Long Skirts: Finding Culture in Laosby Kim Alleyne
Increasing tourism with its foreign influences is bringing noticeable change. This paper grapples with the underlying questions of what is culture and tradition and how they are expressed through story-telling, drawings and photos and traditional dress. The paper highlights the importance of local context to understanding these expressions. See: report
Designing Awareness: Putting Harddonechan Island on the Mapby Jeremy M. Gates
This paper explores the marketing of the island as an asset to the city in showing the potential for a future different from the current plan. Examples include adaptive reuse of existing historic structures, brochures and posters in an awareness campaign, and selected products to establish enterprises with value to both the island and the city. See: report
The Domestic Edge in Vientiane, Lao PDRby Philippe Saad
An exploration of the transition between rural and urban, forcusing on edge conditions with regard to social status, income and new urban laws. The edge is compared between traditional and 'modern', and concludes by showing how urban laws and modern construction have been modified/adapted to traditional social structures. See: report
Paving Roads in Laos - an Alternative: Porous Pavements and its Social Impacts on Rural Communitiesby Manshi Low
An indepth review of a economic, durable all-weather paving alternative in developing the road transport network of Laos. Findings include questions on the basic feasibilily from technical as well as social concerns. See: report
Notes on the Anonymous Architecture of Laos in 2004: The Rural Architecture of Northwestern Laos, The Architecture of the Temple and That of the City of Vientianeby Gabriel Arboleda
An overview of the logic of traditional rural building compared to the urban temple, contrasting the abandonment in the 'real world' of the rural vernacular with the formal continuity of the temple. See: report
The Simple Life of Mr. and Mrs. Fish - OR - Laos (be) Dam(ned)A Parable of Our Time: The Nam Theun II Dam Project in Laos is likely to get World Bank risk guarantee approval soon. "Construction of dam will enhance livelihood options" they say, but it will likely alter fish migration pattern, and most importantly increase temperature in the river. Many fish are cold loving creatures and will not be happy, and is likely to destroy a portion of riparian buffer essential for a proper functioning of rivers. See: report