Week of Innovation, Startup and Entrepreneurship - WHISE

Arkki facilitates children participation in a smart and child-friendly Ho Chi Minh City in collaboration with UNICEF and local collaborators

21 Teams of Children compete for the Most Creative and Practical Concept for a Smart and Child-Friendly City. The top ten finalists have entered the Presentation & Award Day today with a final judging competition during the Ho Chi Minh City Week of Innovation, Startup and Entrepreneurship – WHISE 2018. The event was opened by the Finnish Ambassador, Mr. Kari Kahiluoto at the Riverside Palace. The project is part of Ho Chi Minh City’s Friendly City Initiative project (2017-2021) and the projects are a result of a series of summer camps facilitated by Arkki, School of Architecture for Children and Youth.

300 children from 8 to 14 years old, some in a situation of vulnerability and disadvantage coming from  11 social protection centers and shelters, have participated over the summer in co-creation workshops facilitated by Arkki and worked in teams to develop their versions of a smart and child-friendly neighborhood.  

During the summer they have learned STEAM through the urban design process using basic urban planning materials such as clay, wood as well as computers, Sketchup, 3D Augmented Reality and Hololens.

The workshops include that children showcase their 21 innovative concepts solutions during the Ho Chi Minh City Week of Innovation, Startup and Entrepreneurship – WHISE 2018 18.10 and 19.10. These works will be exhibited as well during Saigon Innovation Week, October 15-20.

Duy Dong, a pupil of Nguyen Thuong Hien School, said: “I see my city is not beautiful, many places are littered very badly, I want my city to have more trees, amusement park and swimming pool for children. Smart cities must be where people are most concerned about health and environment. “

The objective is to give voice to the children and provide them with 21st-century skills, such as critical thinking, creativity, teamwork, collaboration and communication to be able to actively influence their environment for the better.  Through this program, UNICEF and its partners have promoted children’s creativity and participation into decision-making process and social solutions designing.

When 65% of future jobs are still unknown, we need to facilitate the children’s life-long learning, and the ability to create, engage, participate and innovate.

“With this program, UNICEF is proud to demonstrate the importance of children’s participation and their ability to inform us, adults, what a smart and child-friendly city could look like when children are encouraged to express themselves. Together with partners and children, we are looking forward to showcase their amazing and creative work at this exhibition during Saigon Innovation Week. I am sure you will agree with me that their innovative 3D designs are indeed smart, inclusive, environmentally sensitive, friendly and fun for all children and adults”, said Ms. Marianne Oehlers, Chief of Programme Partnerships Office UNICEF Viet Nam.

Pihla Meskanen Arkki’s CEO and a panelist of this years edition of  Ho Chi Minh City Innovation, Startup and Entrepreneurship Week (WHISE 2018) feel satisfied with the results of the program:

“We have seen that children in Vietnam care about urban planning of Ho Chi Minh City. Although they said it was hard to solve existing problems in one week or even one year, they have proposed many interesting solutions, i.e. the city should have bicycle rent booth to encourage bicycle transportation inside the city and reduce air and noise pollution”, said Ms. Pihla Meskanen, Founder and Director of Arkki International.

The concept aims to open for new perspectives in Ho Chi Minh City as a future smart city for its citizens, where children and young people are the most active and expressive participants to transform the city they live in to become friendly for all citizens including children.  It has the potential to inspire new concepts of human-centered smart, green and clean living and thus contribute to SDG 11.

“We highly appreciate this program, as it has educated on space awareness and urban planning, and supports children to experience the role and responsibility of urban planning experts through drawing and model development. This creative and educational program is suitable for Ho Chi Minh City context, and should be replicated in other urban settings in Viet Nam”, noted Ms. Nguyen Hong Van, Chief of Office, HCM City’s Department of Planning and Architecture.

UNICEF is collaborating with the Saigon Innovation Hub (SIHUB), Department of Architecture and Planning of Ho Chi Minh City and Arkki to implement this program which is part of Ho Chi Minh City’s Child Friendly City Initiative Project (2017-2021).


For more information:
Elena Pinero Martínez
elena@arkki.net /+358458460300


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Arkki International Ltd.
The Arkki School of Architecture for Children and Youth is the leading institution in architectural education for children and youth in the world, founded in Finland in 1993. Arkki education empowers children and youth with innovation skills, holistically intertwining the cognitive, behavioral, functional and technical aspects. The objective is to support children and youth to become innovative influencers of the future through architecture education – whatever their chosen vocation may be. Architecture combines arts and diverse sciences and hence architecture education supports inter-disciplinary learning of different phenomenons. In Finland, Arkki belongs to the network of art education institutes that have been certified by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture to offer school children extracurricular visual art education. Arkki International Ltd. is the company licensing the Arkki education concept globally. So far Arkki Schools are located in 14 cities in Finland, Greece, Cyprus, Czech Republic and Vietnam. Arkki is an official member of a national education export program Education Finland program, offering Finnish educational know-how and learning solutions globally.