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"Rooms of Requirements"


‘Rooms of Requirement’ is a game inspired by Hanoi’s socialist-era collective housing (KTT) as a space that holds and reflects many different needs. Participants role-play as residents living in the KTT and are responsible for defining the needs and requirements of the space. Each round presents a different scenario according to history, and players propose tactics for extending their living space according to the corresponding social, economic, and policy context.


(© Hanoi Ad Hoc)


- Players draw roles – ward leader, original residents, or tenants – and residents choose a living unit from the game model.
- Based on each scenario, players define their own needs. This can be based on real phenomena or can be imagined needs for the space.
- Each extended space to meet the proposed needs will be represented by a color block/drawing/model connected to the original space. The new rooms of requirement must extend at right angles (above, below, front, back) and be adjacent to existing spaces.
- Players must present their case and negotiate with all other players, who must vote on whether to allow the proposed extension. The “ward leader” is responsible for moderating discussion.
- The player at the end with the most space for their unit wins.

(© Hanoi Ad Hoc)


Round 1: 1960-1986
During the subsidy period, rural migrants to the city work in various factories and enterprises, allocated to live 2-3 workers/unit. Once they marry, workers may live with their families in an individual unit. Restroom and dining is communal in shared areas of the KTT, while water is taken from a shared source on the first floor. After 1975, many families have soldiers returning from war. Goods are exchanged through stamps, and many families seek to improve their lives by raising livestock or growing vegetables.

Round 2: 1986-1994
After the economic reforms of 1986, agencies and enterprises begin to change their housing regime as most employees have families to offer more individual homes, subdivided rooms within collective housing, and shared spaces are gradually individualized. The exterior of the KTT’s are transformed through constructed extensions negotiated among the residents or between the residents and the management board. Most people now have bicycles, and strive towards buying a motorbike for the family.

Round 3: 1995-2010
After 1994, families are given red books to certify private land ownership so they are able to buy/sell and lease their housing units. A second generation of tenants comes to occupy the KTT, often with three generations of family living together. There is no longer room to expand units on the first floor, but it is still possible to negotiate vertical additions to the living. Vietnam’s position in the international economy shifts after normalizing relations in the US, and families can access consumer goods from the US, EU, internet, and motorbikes.


Round 4: 2010-present
As every family has internet access and e-commerce develop, shops and warehouses begin to occupy the upper apartments. Many families can now afford an automobile. The rate of urbanization in Hanoi is increasingly very rapidly as the first workers to be allocated housing in the KTT are now elderly. There are now plans to redevelop the KTT with new condominiums, offering residents compensation for new homes or resettle in the new buildings. However, it is not known when these plans will be realized and residents do not agree on whether to accept the compensation and move out of their homes.

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