Blog : Hanoi

Maison T: A Tiny Home Perfectly in Tune with a Vibrant City Ambience

Maison T: A Tiny Home Perfectly in Tune with a Vibrant City Ambience

/ Hanoi, Vietnam /

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

/ Photographs: Tuan Nghia Nguyen /

Like a journey through time, a narrow side street in Hanoi is bustled with people talking and going about their business. The sounds of passing vehicles can be heard rising to a deafening crescendo, among others. Together they are the qualities distinctive to the character of this city neighborhood. Amid excited activity and movement stands a tiny house named Maison T. It’s a humble abode that’s home to a young couple who just returned to their birthplace from an extended stay overseas. It’s small, yet it provides a sense of belonging and a place to relax and unwind after a long day at work.

Maison T small house Vietnam

What a pleasant surprise! The little house on a crowded street is enjoyable, quiet and free from interruption. It’s thoughtfully devised to reach out and connect with others in the community.

Small space? Not a problem! The friendly and happy homeowners show care and concern for their next door neighbors. Even their pet dog is well-liked and gets along just fine with others, thanks in part to a small well-lighted front yard made for warm greetings and bringing joy to the family.

Maison T small house Vietnam
The front yard with a tree and verdant climbing vines adds a relaxing atmosphere to the nice little house in the big city

Needless to say the overall effect is impressive. The design team at Nghia-Architect has succeeded in transforming a house that felt stuffy sandwiched between taller buildings into a light and airy living space.

As the architects put it, being located in a prime urban neighborhood, every square inch counts and every square inch amounts to an ounze of gold, to put it mildly. Hence, it’s a good idea to make the most of it and, with innovative design, turn it into a refreshing haven.

In response to a difficult situation, they put in a front yard with climbing vines on both sides the wall. Upfront, a perforate brick fence wall separates the home from the street below. Notwithstanding the limited space, the area of ground surrounded by tall buildings becomes their pride and joy, thanks to the newly added lush greenery.

The brick fence wall in dark vintage brown looks like a house facade from a distance. It serves multiple purposes. Holes in the perforate shell allow air to pass through, provide a warm and inviting atmosphere and, at the same time, protect the privacy of the family living within.

A charcoal drawing on white gives a vivid representation of the tiny home in relation to other houses in the community. / Courtesy of Nghia Architect


A drawing illustrates a linear impression of depth and cross flow ventilation allowing fresh outdoor air to enter through the front of the home and out at the back. / Courtesy of Nghia Architect
A space utilization diagram of the ground floor shows the living room with a double height ceiling upfront. Further in lies a kitchen and bathroom at the rear that opens to a side yard. / Courtesy of Nghia Architect
A space utilization diagram of the mezzanine holding a bedroom, bathroom and walk-in closet. / Courtesy of Nghia Architect
In cross section, a side-elevation drawing illustrates space utilization on both levels of the house plan. / Courtesy of Nghia Architect

Walk in the door, and you find two levels of usable space; the ground floor with a double height ceiling, and a mezzanine holding the bedroom. Each level measures just 40 square meters.

Maison T small house Vietnam

As the design team intended, the tiny house perfectly balances space and maneuverability. Thanks to open-concept design, all the rooms and service areas are easily accessed.

There are no solid dividers separating the interior into different rooms, a clever hack to get rid of stale air in stuffy rooms. Plus, the double height ceiling makes the interior feel easy on the eyes, and it gives a sense of space.

A stepladder rising up to a small mezzanine on the front facade adds some fun to home decor.

Downstairs, the living room under a high ceiling is separated from the kitchen by an L-shaped concrete countertop at waist height. The kitchen space serves a dual purpose; as food preparation area, and as washing and laundry room.

The counter itself is slanted slightly inward to create extra space along the wall for a side yard illuminated by rooftop skylights. This in turn makes the home feel bright without the help of light shining in through the front facade, a nice strategy to banish stale air in stuffy rooms.

Maison T small house Vietnam
An L-shaped countertop with a distinct curvature in the middle separates the living room from the kitchen.
The ground-floor bathroom has a view of the side yard illuminated by a skylight.

Maison T small house Vietnam

To the left side, a set of stairs made of steel provides access to the mezzanine holding the bedroom under a high pitched gable roof. There are no solid dividers separating the interior into different rooms. Instead, to control the amount of light shining in, the bedroom is hung with a privacy curtain suspended from a curved railing system.

The architects chose brickwork and naked concrete finishes for the walls for an appearance that’s easy to care for and pleasant to look at.

Maison T small house Vietnam
There are no solid walls separating the interior into different rooms. Rather, the bedroom on the mezzanine is hung with a curtain to control the amount of light shining in through a rooftop skylight.
No home is too small to incorporate a natural feature in the design. Here, a cavity in the concrete slab roof provides space for a skylight illuminating the interior.
Maison T small house Vietnam
The second-floor bathroom has a treetop view of the side yard that acts as a flow acceleration channel designed to improve ventilation.
A cavity between soft and hard walls provides space for a side yard illuminated by rooftop skylights.

In a tourist destination full of people doing things and moving about like Hanoi, using every available space effectively is the key to living a happy and fulfilling life. Amid all the excitement, noises and traffic passing by, a tiny house named Maison T rises above the challenges.

For the young couple who lives here, it is warm, cozy and comfortable. Although small, it is a calm and peaceful place to rest the eye, relax and escape from the fast pace of city life. Plus, it is good to add greenery to the neighborhood.

Maison T small house Vietnam

Architect: Nghia-Architect

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Ngói Space: A Community Center in Vibrant Orange Graces a Suburb of Hanoi

Ngói Space: A Community Center in Vibrant Orange Graces a Suburb of Hanoi

/ Hanoi, Vietnam /

/ Story: Phattaraphon / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Le Minh Hoang /

A good-sized community center is making its presence felt on the outskirts of Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital. The building stands enclosed in authentic Vietnamese fireclay roof tiles. The external envelope in exuberant shades of orange rises above a street corner surrounded by modern structures. It begs the question. Is this some kind of experiment being undertaken to test a point that has never been dealt with? “Your guess is right.”

Ngói Space Hanoi

Named “Ngói Space,” the community center building sends a strong message that exciting new architecture can be created using indigenous building materials. In this particular project, more than 20,000 thin rectangular slabs of baked clay are used to make the building facades. They are the same ubiquitous building materials as those used for covering roofs.

Ngói Space Hanoi

Ngói Space Hanoi
The immediate empty space between the perforate shell and the building wall offers semi-outdoor room for relaxation.

Ngói Space performs a dual role as recreation center promoting community wellbeing and reception area for both normal and important occasions. It’s open to everyone in the community who needs a place and time to unwind, not to mention empowering the people and strengthening the neighborhood.

Among others, it has coffee shops, multiple purpose rooms, conference venues and exhibition halls plus a rooftop garden for relaxation.

The interior space is light and airy, a peaceful place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

The unique outer surface of the building got its inspiration from trees thriving vigorously in the wild, while the interiors conjure up mental images of the atmosphere inside a prehistoric cave dwelling. The design thinking process started with interior planning. Once that’s done, the team at H&P Architects then proceeded to work on the building’s exteriors.

A pencil sketch illustrates steps in the thinking process culminating in the final design of the community center building named “Ngoi Space” / Courtesy of H&P Architects
A diagrammatic representation shows the coming together of support structures and building facades crafted of fireclay roof tiles. / Courtesy of H&P Architects
The floor plans in cross section / Courtesy of H&P Architects

To arouse people’s curiosity and interest, the facades are covered in roof tiles fired the old-fashioned way, an indigenous building material that the Vietnamese were most familiar with. In a way, it’s a design that takes people back in time by reintroducing traditional materials and techniques and putting them to good use in modern day applications.

A trio of images shows how the thin rectangular slabs of baked clay are put together creating the face of the building that houses the community center. / Courtesy of H&P Architects)

There is one incentive for doing so. As the country continues to advance, more and more old homes are torn down to make room for new ones. So now is the time to start thinking about the need to reuse and recycle as a means of preserving natural resources.

For this reason, the facades are built of fireclay roof tiles recycled from much older homes. In this way, nothing goes to waste plus it’s a creative and cost-effective way to build in this day and age.

Ngói Space Hanoi
Split level design makes for a pleasant and airy interior.

Ngói Space Hanoi

Here, the old roof tiles are put together diagonally to create one triangle after the other that in turn forms the perforate outer shell of the building. Together they go to work protecting the walls and windows behind them from severe weather.

Besides providing shade and more insulation for the interiors, the immediate cavity in between the two layers provides room for exhibitions and nooks along the walls to sit sipping coffee. That’s not all. There’s also a rooftop garden offering a wonderful panorama of the cityscape. Or just chill out and enjoy the view through wall openings anywhere in the building.

Ngói Space Hanoi

Ngói Space Hanoi
A custom loft net system offers visual continuity between upper and lower floors.
Ngói Space Hanoi
A multi-use space lies between the fireclay tile façade and the building wall fitted with panes of clear glass.
A meeting room set in theater style is illuminated by natural daylight.

Ngói Space Hanoi
Fireclay roof tiles fixed in position with abrupt alternate left and right turns add balance and harmony to interior design.

From the design perspective, “Ngói Space” takes pride of place in this part of suburban Hanoi, having occupied a prominent position among modern buildings in the area. What makes it stand out is the perforate shell made of old roof tiles in shades of orange, an intriguing combination that gives it character and the power of storytelling about the city’s past and present.

Ngói Space Hanoi
The rooftop garden affords a beautiful panorama of the city landscape.
Ngói Space Hanoi
A façade of fireclay tiles is beautifully handcrafted with wide openings for a better view of the great outdoors.
Ngói Space Hanoi
A simple opening in the building facade allows access to the building. The exterior wall covered in orange roof tiles fired the old-fashioned way provides a window into the community’s long-standing traditions.

All told, it’s a beautiful piece of modern architecture made possible by putting together little things to create a bigger thing. That being said, it takes courage and the ability to see things from a different perspective. Only then can one appreciate the value hidden inside little things and successfully turn them into a product that pleases the senses and the mind, much like an artist adeptly turning “objets trouves” into art.

Ngói Space Hanoi
The orange of the fireclay tile façade stands out from mostly white buildings in a suburban neighborhood of Hanoi.

Architect: H&P Architects (

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The Đạo Mẫu Museum: A Window into Vietnam’s Folk Cultures in Times Past

The Đạo Mẫu Museum: A Window into Vietnam’s Folk Cultures in Times Past

/ Hanoi, Vietnam /

/ Story: Kor Lordkam / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Trieu Chien /

Greetings from Soc Son, a village near Hanoi that’s home to a museum nestled in an old orchard. Known as Đạo Mẫu Museum, it stands on 5,000 square meters (about an acre) of land surrounded by lush woodlands and rolling hills. In recent years, the area has attracted many travelers, thanks to beautiful scenery and unspoiled landscapes.

Đạo Mẫu Museum
Dominated by a boundary wall and towering structures covered in reclaimed clay tiles, the welcome area is a garden path leading to the main museum area at the far end.

The Đạo Mẫu is a museum and a home in one. Xuan Hinh, the owner/artist who created it, lives on the project, which conveys a great deal about his unwavering commitment to preserving the architectural heritage and folk traditions unique to this part of the country.

Among them is the traditional veneration of deities of Vietnam’s folk religion that’s gradually disappearing from modern society.

Đạo Mẫu Museum

By definition, the term Đạo Mẫu is Vietnamese for mother goddesses, or deities in folk religion treated with reverence and adoration since the dawn of time.

It’s part of the ancient Vietnamese belief system that seeks communications with supernatural beings, especially the goddesses or female deities and a fascinating aura of mystery that locals adhere to and observe in everyday life.

It’s not clearly understood how such belief systems came into being. Only that female deities were worshipped for thousands of years since the earliest times. This is especially true across Southeast Asia, where female divinity is mostly concerned with the life-giving and nurturing aspects of nature.

Understandably, the power of nature is personified as a woman symbolizing a creative and controlling force, and hence the term Mother Nature as we know it.

Đạo Mẫu Museum

Long story short, it’s the line of thought mentioned above that inspired Xuan Hinh to join forces with ARB Architects, an architectural practice based in Hanoi, in creating an architectural masterpiece in this regard. It serves as a vehicle to express ideas about the preservation of the folk culture that’s rooted deeply in the belief systems about the force of Mother Nature.

Đạo Mẫu Museum

The result of all this is a group of towering structures covered in vintage clay tiles reaching for the sky through the void of space among the fruit trees on the property. The idea is to avoid coming into contact with surrounding lush foliage and let nature permeate.

Philosophically, it’s a reflection on the importance of the need to live a conscious lifestyle and make the world a better place for all living things.

Đạo Mẫu Museum

An opening in the boundary wall covered in old clay tiles provides a pleasing view of the old orchard.

The Đạo Mẫu Museum has two parts. First, the welcome area is a long garden path that runs along the boundary wall marked with towering structures at intervals. There are five of them in all that serve as the focal points to get people’s attention.

A drawing of the floor plan shows the old orchard up front and the museum/residential area with a water pond at the rear. / Courtesy of ARB Architects

The rustic garden path leads to the main area consisting of a place of residence and a museum at the rear of the property. There are service areas and smaller buildings nearby. The old house where the owner/artist lived previously now provides space for collectibles connected with the veneration of Đạo Mẫu, the female goddess.

Elsewhere, new buildings merge into the darkness of the fruit orchard. Or it can be said that the trees blend beautifully with the built environment. Either way, it looks the epitome of a perfect picture, in which all things in the universe are inextricably linked.

Đạo Mẫu Museum

Đạo Mẫu Museum

Đạo Mẫu Museum

More so than anything else, every square inch of the towering structures and boundary walls is covered in vintage clay tiles in varying shades of earth tones. They are reclaimed construction materials that the owner/artist had kept in his collections over many years.

The tiles were recycled from much older homes across the Northern Region of Vietnam, more than one hundred of them in all. He collected them over time when the old homes were either renovated or dismantled as a result of the increasing globalization of the economy.

Đạo Mẫu Museum


For Xuan Hinh and the design team of ARB Architects, the discarded objects are priceless works of art. They are man-made artifacts whose value cannot be determined, plus they provide a reflection on the ways of life of the people of Vietnam in times past.

It’s the opportunity to adapt them for a new use, thereby upcycling them into something of higher quality and value. And from the cultural perspective, it’s about showing respect for the past, celebrating the present and inspiring the future.

Đạo Mẫu Museum

Owner: Xuan Hinh

Architect: ARB Architects (

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A House Under the Pines in Vietnam

A House Under the Pines in Vietnam

/ Hanoi, Vietnam /
/ Story: Sara’ / English version: Peter Montalbano / Photographs: Triệu Chiến /

This modern house under the pines is nestled in forested hills, surrounded by green grass and tree-studded scenery that provides privacy and accents its harmony with the natural setting.

Modern House

This house was designed by a Vietnamese team from Idee Architects, whose priorities involved respecting the former environment instead of leveling the hill and responding to the simplicity of the owner’s lifestyle.

This they managed with an “open space” concept in a home full of modern conveniences that still stays close to nature, washed in the sunlight that streams in through the pine woods.

Modern House

The house is built on two levels, the lower section holding a carport/garage and multipurpose room, and the upper level with a living room, kitchen, and four bedrooms set atop a piney hill with a magnificent view on three sides.

Interior colors are dominated by natural-looking mid-tone colors: whites, blacks, greys, and browns, conveying natural warmth and tranquility.

The “focus and flow” design creates points of interest with a play of straight, horizontal, and vertical lines laid against the curves of the drive.

modern house modern house

Three-meter eaves project out from the house to offer increased protection from Vietnam’s heavy rain and bright sunlight.

The house is designed in the shape of a slightly unbalanced “T” with a “semi-outdoor” pathway reaching all around. Except for the outdoor shower belonging to the master bedroom, on good-weather days doors and windows on every side of the house can be opened to let the air flow through.

A corridor on the west side acts as heat insulation for the bedroom, an elegant simplicity in design that creates balance between static and dynamic elements in the house.

The bedroom’s spaciousness shows dynamism, with the static element expressed through its privacy and sense of peace and quiet.

The house is securely tucked away in greenery, as the building was actually designed to blend in with the trees that were already present.

The big grass lawn out in front of the living room and bedrooms provides a great playground for the kids without blocking the idyllic view from inside.

modern house modern house modern house modern housemodern house modern house modern house

The house structure is made primarily of authentic materials like steel, brick, and glass, whose lightness makes for easier adjustments when encountering problems combining them in construction while helping reduce living expenses and minimize negative effects on the original land.

Future energy use is optimized with the wide roof’s facilitation of solar energy storage as well as through clean water and the cultivation of vegetables, all of which truly support a comfortable and relaxing lifestyle.

Architect: Idee Architects