There are special stairs in Hanoi known as “cultural stairs” that serve as more than just a mini library underneath. They also function as a community space for residents. Among them, the stair of building A3 in Nghia Tan ward, Cau Giay District stands out as particularly unique.

Hanoi’s old apartments’ stairs and hallways turn to be “libraries” for the residents. Photo: Hoai Anh. 

The establishment resembles a charming mini library, complete with cozy bookshelves, sturdy tables, and comfortable chairs. Spanning across its walls are an extensive collection of books, thoughtfully organized into various genres including classics, fiction, non-fiction, history, healthcare, science, law, memoir, and more. Patrons can also peruse the selection of newspapers and documents available.

Dao Thi Anh Tuan, a dedicated resident of the building, has devoted numerous years to the voluntary organization and preservation of newspapers and books at the local library. Her efforts have greatly contributed to nurturing the reading culture among fellow community members.

Tuan stated that prior to 1999, the staircase in the old apartment buildings in Hanoi resembled those found in other similar buildings. This shared space was typically used for storage, motorcycle parking, small business stalls, or other individual purposes.

“Later, a group of retired veterans and cadres residing in the building came up with an innovative idea to establish a public library within its premises, thus becoming the city’s inaugural specialized cultural hub,” stated Tuan.

Our objective is to transform public spaces into vibrant cultural hubs where community members can gather, stay updated with current news, and engage in enriching knowledge-sharing activities.

“Subsequently, we requested the residents to kindly contribute newspapers, books, tables, and chairs. They also established certain regulations to ensure its maintenance. For instance, each household takes turns to diligently clean the staircase on a daily basis, as well as remove any advertising stickers or graffiti. Additionally, the residents have collectively raised a fund to further enhance the variety of books available here,” she elaborated.

The stairs in old apartments on Hanoi also serves as an exchange space for people to meet, talk, and share. Photo: Hieu Nguyen

Tuan mentioned that for more than 20 years, the stair has served as a popular gathering spot for residents of the building, both young and old, after work and school.

Young individuals often seek out interesting and helpful sources for their studies or personal reading enjoyment, while older generations find pleasure in reading news and events from traditional daily newspapers. It is common to see elderly individuals visiting this place on a daily basis to not only stay updated but also to engage in meaningful discussions and share their perspectives on the news and events they have read.

In today’s digital age, where the Internet, tablets, and e-readers dominate, our commitment to fostering a thriving reading culture remains steadfast. One way we achieve this is through our innovative “cultural stair” initiative.

In addition, the staircase also functions as a communal gathering area, providing an opportunity for individuals to come together, engage in conversation, and foster connections. This aspect greatly contributes to fostering relationships amongst various generations, neighbors, and strengthening the sense of solidarity within the community.

“According to Dam Thi Nhieu, a resident in the building, the staircase holds great significance for her. It offers her the chance to stay informed and connect with others on a daily basis.”

“I sincerely hope that we can preserve this staircase as a long-term space that allows us to lead healthier and happier lives,” she expressed.

Discover a wide selection of literature, ranging from fiction and non-fiction novels to historical books, healthcare handbooks, law documents, and daily or weekly newspapers, all conveniently available at our exclusive “stair libraries”. Indulge in the world of knowledge and entertainment. Photo by Hieu Nghia.

Numerous community activities have been organized based on this model, including the collective cleaning of the entire building on a weekly basis, which involves active participation from all residents. Additionally, fundraising initiatives have been undertaken to support individuals affected by natural disasters. Moreover, women’s cooking competitions have been held to foster camaraderie and showcase culinary talent within the community.

The A3 apartment’s “cultural stair” project has achieved great success and is now being adopted by numerous neighboring apartment buildings in Nghia Tan Ward. The local authorities are actively promoting the implementation of this model, seeking sponsorship and contributions of funding and books to support and expand its presence within the community.

Nhieu stated that individuals from neighboring wards and districts frequently visit the “Cultural Stairs” located in Nghia Tan Ward. Although this stair model is modest in size, it has significantly enhanced the cultural and intangible aspects of life for both residents and the wider community.

Advancing Community Culture and Relationships through Apartment Building Models

As the number of new apartment buildings continues to rise in today’s fast-paced world, it is vital that we find ways to connect people and foster a sense of community. The apartment building model serves as a solution to this problem, offering a platform for building relationships and promoting community culture.

With everyone constantly on the move, it can be challenging to carve out time for meaningful interactions. By implementing apartment building models in various locations, we can create a sense of unity and belonging even in the busiest of areas.

The concept of apartment building models entails creating miniature replicas or models of apartment buildings and placing them in communal areas. These models serve as a visual representation of the community, reminding residents of the larger network they are a part of.

By having these models displayed prominently in lobbies, common areas, or even outdoors, it acts as a conversation starter and encourages people to interact with one another. It fosters a sense of pride in the community and prompts individuals to take an interest in their neighbors.

Apartment building models also serve as a platform for organizing community events and activities. Whether it is a residents’ association meeting or a social gathering, having a physical representation of the community fosters interest and participation.

Investing in apartment building models not only enhances community culture but also provides an opportunity for local businesses to promote their products and services. Placing ads or information brochures alongside the models creates advertising space, benefiting both residents and local enterprises.

In conclusion, as the new apartment building trend continues to grow, it is crucial to focus on building connections and fostering a sense of community. Apartment building models offer a practical solution to this challenge, providing a platform for interaction, unity, and pride in one’s community. Let us spread this model to other places and watch as it transforms relationships and community culture.