The Ger Innovation Hub

The Ger

The Ger Innovation Hub provides much needed community infrastructure to residents living in the Ger districts of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. These districts have no running water or sewage systems and in the extreme winter, with temperatures reaching -40 °C, coal is the main source of heat, resulting in debilitating air pollution.

Over 70% of the city’s population live in these settlements which are growing by 30,000 people per year, many of whom give up a nomadic lifestyle to move to the city. In the process of becoming urban, residents are confronted with new sets of challenges and they encounter common problems that become the responsibility of a collective body of people.

In a culture which has no word for “community”, the aim of the project is to enable residents to address what it means to live together and forge new methods of collaboration. The Hub will offer a crèche, after-school club, performance space and educational workshops for talks and vocational training.

Inspired by the ger, we designed a layered structure: An inner room made of mud bricks is surrounded by an outer layer of polycarbonate, creating a buffer space that traps radiant heat in the winter. This reduces energy consumption and serves as a model for the district to reduce coal use. The building is a place for all sections of the community and offers an alternative place to go, when, particularly in winter, residents are confined to their households.

As we continue to monitor and evaluate the building’s performance, the project demonstrates how the process of making architecture can be a model to enable the construction of a community. With the support of the University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Jockey Club, the Ger Innovation Hub (GIH) is under construction to become a model conceptual community space in the ger areas.

The building concept focuses on energy efficiency and innovative design. We aim to complete the construction of the space and start organizing various children and youth-centered activities to promote community engagement and participation in development starting in the summer of 2019. Source by Rural Urban Framework, The University of Hong Kong.

  • Location: Songino Khairkhan 43, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
  • Design: Joshua Bolchover and John Lin (Rural Urban Framework, The University of Hong Kong)
  • Project Leader: Jersey Poon
  • Project Team: Chiara Oggioni
  • Project Partner: GerHub: Badruun Gardi and Enkhjin Batjargal, Ecotown NGO: Odgerel Gansukh
  • Contractor: Odgerel Gansukh
  • Wood supplier: Shinest Co. Ltd
  • Funding: Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust (as part of the Jockey Club HKU Rural-Urban Design Project) YPO ASEAN United.
  • Supporting Institutions: The University of Hong Kong, HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education
  • Total area: 160m2
  • Inner area: 73m2
  • Total cost: $67,500 USD
  • Unit cost: $420 USD/m2
  • Construction: January 2020
  • Photographs: Courtesy of Rural Urban Framework (RUF)

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