The Hiên House: A Wood and Concrete Home Full of Balcony and Terrace Ideas

The Hiên House: A Wood and Concrete Home Full of Balcony and Terrace Ideas

The Hiên House: A Wood and Concrete Home Full of Balcony and Terrace Ideas

/ Da Nang, Vietnam /

/ Story: Kanamon Najaroen / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Quang Dam /

This Tropical style house is in Da Nang, a coastal city in central Vietnam famous for its gleaming sand beaches, Buddhist shrines and the Marble Mountains. The beautiful Han River runs through it. The home built of wood and concrete goes by the name of “The Hiên House” for its lively green façades, Hiên being Vietnamese for the semi-outdoor rooms along the outside of the building.

THE HIÊN HOUSE concrete home

The house’s external envelope is simple yet contemporary in style enhanced by verdant balconies and terraces symbolic of homes in the Tropics. Plus, there’s a unique Vietnamese flair to it. As the architects intended, it’s a layout that speaks volumes for a lifestyle that seeks reconnections with nature.

The concept is manifested in the way the ordinary balconies and terraces transform into the proverbial “breathing space” for nature to recover from disruptions. That said, it makes perfect sense to live more sustainably in this day and age.

THE HIÊN HOUSE concrete home


Wood and Concrete House

Situated away from a densely populated urban area, the wood and concrete house occupies the full extent of a long and narrow lot sandwiched between two roads. It’s home to three generations of a family highly skilled in traditional carpentry living in one household.

There are four stories of living spaces, excluding a rooftop deck. By design, the floor plans cater to the needs of different generations and hence vary in size and appearance from one level to the next. To celebrate the family’s distinguished career in carpentry, the architects made woodworking front-and-center concerns in house design and interior decoration.

During construction, the homeowners were also on hand to provide technical expertise at various stages in the process, especially where traditional Vietnamese woodworking skill was needed.

THE HIÊN HOUSE concrete home
The light and airy front entrance is visible from the driveway covered in stone pavers.

To help protect the environment, the design team at WINHOUSE Architecture, a design atelier headquartered in Da Nang, chose to use reclaimed wood instead of newly cut timber from the lumberyard. The recycled building materials used in this project included parts of the staircase, such as treads and risers taken from old homes that had been torn down previously.

Other parts were adapted from old decking, post sleeves, balusters and handrails as well as wooden fascia. They were made suitable for a new use or purpose. And, importantly, they were easy to transport and repair without using specialized tools.

Timber is durable even as it ages. It’s safe to handle and capable of withstanding heat and humidity in the air over a long period of time. Old and weathered wood has a natural appearance that’s beautiful and needs no preservative chemicals to prolong its lifecycle, which translates into big savings and convenience. Using reclaimed wood in combination with local knowledge and modern techniques add a new dimension to construction technology.

THE HIÊN HOUSE concrete home


Balconies and Terraces for Free Air Circulation

What sets the four-story house apart from the rest is its surprising room ideas and lively green balconies that fill up the entire front façade. They are integral to a design that brings natural light and fresh outdoor air into the home. At the same time, they help dissipate heat from the building keeping the interior cool during the daytime.

Elements of design common for Southeast Asian architecture, the roofed open-air platforms along the outside of the building, be it the balcony or the terrace, perform many useful functions. Among other things, they expand the living areas, protect against the elements, and provide space for sitting rooms and passages for walking along.

First Floor Plan / Courtesy of WINHOUSE Architecture
Second Floor Plan / Courtesy of WINHOUSE Architecture
Third Floor Plan / Courtesy of WINHOUSE Architecture
In cross section, a side elevation drawing shows space planning decorated with plants working in tandem with wall openings to admit natural light and fresh outdoor air into the home. / Courtesy of WINHOUSE Architecture
Isometric visuals show reclaimed building materials being adapted to suit new purposes on all four levels of the new home. The message is clear: save the Earth and cut costs. / Courtesy of WINHOUSE Architecture

As is often the case with most houses, the elements of design such as balconies and terraces are built on the outside of the house. But in this particular case, the architects think it wise to incorporate them in the interior as well, sort of like going in the reverse direction. First they put in an inner courtyard at the center of the ground floor plan.

Then, by disposing the rooms around the courtyard, the areas with a faint light, such as the sitting room and workspaces, suddenly become well-lit and well-ventilated. It’s a clever hack to bring the outdoors into the home. The result is a comfortable living space filled with natural light and fresh air that contributes to feelings of relaxation.

THE HIÊN HOUSE concrete home
The kitchen in the farthest room is well-lit and well-ventilated.
THE HIÊN HOUSE concrete home
Going in the reverse direction, the terrace that in most cases lies along the outside of the house is put inside overlooking a lively green inner courtyard.

THE HIÊN HOUSE concrete home

Taking as a whole, the traffic patterns and space design make the long and narrow house plan feel roomy inside. Walk in the front door and you come to a hallway that’s light and airy, thanks to a rooftop skylight illuminating the stairs connected to a foot bridge over the nearby inner courtyard. There is no need to turn on electric lights during the daytime, which translates into big savings.

THE HIÊN HOUSE concrete home
Illuminated by a rooftop skylight, the staircase and foot bridge spanning the void over the inner courtyard make traffic flow easy and convenient.

THE HIÊN HOUSE concrete home
A well-lit foot bridge crafted of reclaimed timber connects the major living spaces in the home.

Climb a flight of stairs to the second floor, and surprise! It’s divided into two separate parts, the front room and the back room linked by a foot bridge that spans the void above the inner courtyard. The same space planning applies to the third floor, except for one thing. The next staircase leading to the fourth floor is positioned further toward the back of the building. The front part holds a bedroom with a balcony decorated with lush greenery.

 

Cross over the foot bridge, and you come to the back room containing a workspace and sitting room. The fourth floor contains a quiet, more secluded reading room with a bright and breezy small garden for relaxation. It’s a comfortable living space and the light is more diffuse under the canopy of trees.

THE HIÊN HOUSE concrete home
Plants growing luxuriantly make the house façade green and lively.

THE HIÊN HOUSE concrete home

THE HIÊN HOUSE concrete home
Local builders skilled in traditional carpentry reinforce wood beams and pillars for increased load capacities.

In conclusion, the wood and concrete home called “The Hiên House” lives up to its name. All the elements of good judgement in design go to work turning it into an oasis of calm. Everything works out as it should, from a well-lit, well-aired inner courtyard to the plants, trees and small gardens thriving luxuriantly on the balconies and terraces. Perhaps, one word describes it all, salubrious!


Architects: WINHOUSE Architecture

Structural Engineers: Bim City


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