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Soon Min Hong

MPhil work

A Design Guideline for School Shelters: disaster-resilient communities in the Lao People's Democratic Republic

This research develops a design guide for a community shelter, taking into consideration the Laos government's aim to design schools which are also fit to function as shelters. Although international humanitarian agencies have published operational guidelines for shelter construction programmes, they lack consideration of spatial design, local specificity, practical knowledge of architectural design and practice, and community participation, and are therefore difficult to implement. This dissertation examines these issues and explores the participatory design principles of village schools functioning as community shelters through the lens of a design guideline. The key question of this practice-led thesis is: what are the spatial strategies for flood resilience in the context of Laos and how can these inform a new design guideline?

This practice-led research consists of four parts. The first examines existing guidelines for shelter and housing construction with a focus on the theoretical and practical contexts – i.e. local specificity, architectural design and community participation. The second explores the current circumstances of flood risk management in Laos. Following this, the scope that an adequate design guide should include is analysed and spatial strategies investigated in the context of school community shelters in rural areas. In the third part, school construction guidelines are discussed in relation to equivalent guidelines and circumstances in Laos, particularly considering existing practice and quality of construction. Hereby indigenous knowledge and local construction skills are studied, and retrofitting architectural design and practice is explored while considering the means of community participation. Based on this, a new design guide for a community shelter in flood-prone areas in rural Laos is proposed.

This thesis is closely linked to an ongoing live project to design and build a flood shelter for a rural village in Laos, which will be conducted in 2019. It is therefore the first phase of the larger action research project. The school shelter guideline proposed will then be tested and verified by a live project, and afterwards the guidelines will be developed for publication in Laos and neighbouring nations with similar flood risks.

MA work

Risk Theme Park

Today, we tend to be obsessed over our personal safety rather than being willing to take a risk. In a risk averse society, the firefighter is the person who is willing to take a risk for the others. However, the fire service in South Korea is highly undervalued and public apathy towards the degrading working conditions of firefighters prevails. I am approaching this matter with the following question: how can an architectural proposal increase the public’s appreciation for the act of taking a risk?

Indeed, risk-taking is valuable and desirable. For instance, adventure playgrounds encourage children to engage in risky play because it is beneficial for childhood development.

I propose a ‘Risk Theme Park’ for the city of Daegu, which combines an adventure playground for adult citizens, and a space of remembrance for the fallen firefighters and the ones working on the front line. The direct physical and spatial experience of risk-taking is employed to educate about risk – with the hope that its social repercussion would be an increased appreciation for firefighters themselves.


  • MPhil


    School of Architecture


    Architecture Research, 2015–2019

  • MA Degree


    School of Architecture


    MA Architecture, 2015



  • Soon Min Hong holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the Kyunpook National Univerisity in 2012 and a Master of Arts in Architecture from the Royal College of Art in 2015. He also receives a Master of Philosophy in Architecture at the Royal College of Art in 2019. His MA thesis explores not only overprotection and taking risk in terms of children’s play and development, particularly in a risk averse society, but also the idea of taking some desirable risk for architecture and design fields. His thesis project, a Risk Theme Park, is a risk facility in the form of a vertical theme park in order to promote risk and appreciation of those who take risk. This project has been featured in various magazines, such as Dezeen and Popular Science. 

    His MPhil research includes a live project in Laos with the collaboration of Luminouse Action Organisation (LAON), which is a South Korea-based NGO, and The Asia Foundation. This practice-led research devises a new design guideline for school shelters in a form of a graphic novel enabling the Lao government authorities and local populations to more easily understand the entire process of school shelter construction. The school shelter guideline proposed will be tested and verified by a live project which is an ongoing project to design and build a flood shelter for a rural village in Laos, and it is an important step towards implementing a nationwide school shelter project.

    He is currently working on the development of a particular village for rural returners in Korea so that he is in charge of designing its masterplan at this stage.

  • Degrees

  • BA Architecture, Kyungbook National University, 2012; MA Architecture, Royal College of Art, 2015; MPhil Architecture, Royal College of Art, 2019
  • Experience

  • Planning manager, DAON, 2019 – present; Project manager, Luminous Action OrganisatioN (LAON), 2015 – present
  • Publications

  • Corinne Iozzio, A THEME PARK FOR DISASTER JUNKIES, Popular Science, July/August 2016 issue; Miho Choi, Risk Theme Park, Architecture & Culture, April 2016 issue (419); Risk Theme Park, Divisare, November, 2015; John Brownlee, Would You Visit A Theme Park That Wants To Crush, Burn, And Drown You?, Fast Co. Design, July, 2015; Risk Theme Park is a conceptual high-rise featuring floods, fires and climbing hazards, Dezeen, June, 2015