Save song — Architecture Competition by

New Architecture Competition Announced — ‘Save Song’ to design Ca Trù music center design challenge —

5 min readMay 16, 2022


Fig: 1 — Music is seen as the authentic expression of a way of life that speaks to the entire community. (Credits:


Music, a form of expression that has been used over millennia to communicate, document, and personalize our lives, has taken many forms today and evolved into bigger things. One of those bigger things is music as a tradition. Being a historical niche form of tradition, slowly fading into oblivion in the background, music has played an important role in maintaining various cultural identities of both communities and individuals. It is true when music is said to be an efficient communicating tool, especially in terms of traditions it propagates through the ages.

Musical traditions across the world have traversed cultural and social obstacles to survive to this day. While some of them have already been erased from society due to no propagation, and some of them thrive to live and popularise themselves, some are dwindling on the brink of extinction and require revival.

Traditional music needs to be protected as they speak of how humans as society progressed through the ages. How can we revive the position of traditional music in contemporary society?

Fig: 2 — In Ca Trù, the singer uses breathing techniques to articulate sounds and the other 2 are instrumentalists. (Credits: HVG Travel)


Ca trù is a complex traditional musical culture that has been earmarked by UNESCO, as in need of urgent support for survival and propagation. This music is part of the intangible heritage of Vietnam, representative of the culture, skills, and practices of locals through several generations.

Ca trù is a sophisticated chamber music tradition of northern Vietnam that was perfected over centuries but took a hit due to the diminishing number and age of practitioners. This form of music was used as a way to fulfill social purposes such as celebrations and worship. As the knowledge of this poetry is transmitted from generation to generation, there is the constant reinvigoration of this form as it interacts with its surroundings and this helps in creating an identity and sense of continuity, strengthening the community relations and cultural diversity.

The practice is propagated in society with verbal teachings by skilled members during communal activities or performances for local events. But the message of preservation can be amplified with the provision of a dedicated center to exhibit the value of this cultural tradition.

Fig: 3 — Ongoing wars and insufficient awareness caused Ca trù to fall into disuse during the 20th century, awaiting its revival. (Credits: Vietnamese Institute for Musicology)


The architecture competition brief calls for a musical center design for Ca trù music form, where the tradition is both taught and performed for visitors.

The center is envisioned to uphold the culture and be a starting point to prevent the form from vanishing and kick-start growth for the local music community.

The built form must be able to connect with the people, through its form, layout, or spaces. The relationship of the building with the context, both in physical and mental terms must be explored. The ambiance must be flexible for multiple uses and inclusive for all enthusiasts.

The design must imbibe the essence of music allowing freedom in spatial design to explore it. The user experience can be enhanced by creating a layout to narrate the story of this tradition.

This aesthetic of the center should be able to attract and sit well with both the locals and the tourists so it would have a base population to work with. The competition aims to establish the center as a catalyst in the growth and popularity of the form while contributing to tourism to spread the word around.


  • Ideate — The story of the music tradition must be narrated to be relevant to contemporary times and generate an engaging journey for its visitors.
  • Landmark — The visual impact must be exemplary with standout features attracting visitors.
  • Harmony — The design must establish harmony or connection with the surroundings while having outstanding features.
  • Balance — A mix of open, semi-open, and closed spaces must be employed to take advantage of the views around the site and design the venue to be conducive for musical performances.


The site is located in Hanoi, Vietnam. Being the birthplace of the Ca Trù art form, Vietnam is known for its extensive historical, cultural, and social practices. Many of them are of key importance to the tourism industry, which conducts tours and shows, showcasing these stories. Hanoi, being the capital, attracts a lot of these tourists.

The site is located at the waterfront of Hồ Tây lake with extensive water views. The neighborhood of Quang An is characterized by vibrant lakeside activity and a heritage community. The site is near local attractions making its visibility proficient among both locals and tourists.

  • Site area — 3,073 sqm
  • Ground coverage — 40%
  • Height restrictions — 6 meters
  • Maximum FAR: 0.9
  • Setbacks (as per CAD plan)
  • Coordinates21°03'26.1"N 105°49'10.5"E


The following programmatic outline is the point to begin your design at. You can add more functions and activities in relevance or modify the below design program.

  • Training 40%: Studio, workshops, multimedia classroom, Instrument storage
  • Performance 35%: Auditorium, Mini theatre, open-air theatre
  • Exhibit 15%: Museum and Gallery
  • Administration and Services 10%: Offices, Maintenance, and Utility, Toilets/Washrooms

Find all the competition brief, terms, and other registration guidelines on this

page: Save song | Cultural Architecture Competition on UNI | About

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