Blog : narrow house

Bao Long Office: An Old Shophouse Beautifully Renovated

Bao Long Office: An Old Shophouse Beautifully Renovated

/ Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam /

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

/ Photographs: Quang Dam /

Major renovations have given a drafty old shophouse a new lease on life. Thanks to great remodeling ideas, the tired-looking two-unit shophouse on Su Van Hanh Street, Ho Chi Minh City, transformed into a beautiful place that struck the right balance between a business and a private residence. Designed by the architecture firm H.a + NQN, the completely refurbished premises are home to a private enterprise named Bao Long Office.

Bao Long Office

As is often the case with shophouses in Vietnam, each of the two units has a frontage of 3 meters. It’s in the shape of an elongated rectangle with a whopping 20-meter length sandwiched between adjacent units.

To create ample, well-ventilated interior space, the wall separating the two units was torn down and replaced with a newer, more modern version.

Bao Long Office’s plan was redesigned to accommodate new business concepts as well as residential and lifestyle needs. To protect the building’s structural integrity, the internal framework remained intact.

The same applied to the ground floor that housed a business selling stainless steel products. For a neat appearance, the entire front façade was glazed in, giving it charms and good looks that set it apart from others in the neighborhood. By night the face of the building is aglow under the lights.

Bao Long Office
Second-floor workspace and private living quarters are clearly separated from each other.

Bao Long Office

Decorated with healthy green foliage, the second-floor balcony provides a relaxed outdoor room and protects the home from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

Located in a commercial zone, the store at ground level is understandably busy and the crowded street bustling with activity.

Climb a flight of stairs to the second floor, and you come to an impressive office space. The area on this level of Bao Long Office is divided into two parts. There’s a warm and welcoming workspace at the office on one side that’s clearly separated from private living quarters on the other.

Both parts are conveniently accessible via the balcony connected to the front façade. The second-floor outdoor platform is decorated with an oasis of calm that’s very pleasant to look at.

Ground Floor Plan Courtesy of H.a
First Floor Plan Courtesy of H.a
Second Floor Plan Courtesy of H.a

 

Bao Long Office
Double-height ceiling design offers open and pleasing tranquility to a long and narrow living room.

Bao Long Office

Section Drawing Courtesy of H.a

The office consists of a workroom and meeting room with simple interior décor. The walls are painted white symbolizing a new beginning and the floors covered in terrazzo.

There’s a custom work table with drafting stools that runs parallel to the wall and stretches the entire length of the room.

The atmosphere is strikingly different from the calming space of nearby private living quarters. To create a homely atmosphere, the living room has a small beverage bar with pantries customized to the homeowner’s hosting style.

At the farthest end lies a peaceful sitting area decorated with deep colors that match the dark surfaces of terrazzo floors, concrete walls, and rustic walnut furniture.

Softened by the dim light, it’s a relaxation technique to create warmth and reduce stress in the home.

Bao Long Office
The homeowner’s sitting room on the third floor is quiet and secluded.

At the same time, a section of the upper floor was taken out to make room for an entrance hall with double-height ceiling design. Not far away, a set of stairs was installed to connect to the homeowner’s secluded living quarters on the top floor.

The private residential zone comes complete with a bedroom with en suite bath, sitting room, and dressing room.

Bao Long Office

A staircase painted orange creates an unexpected playful contrast with the calmness of a small interior space.

Painted a shade of orange color, the steel staircase leads from the ground level, where the retail store is located, all the way to the private residential zone on the top floor of Bao Long Office. Its playful design is intended to express pleasure and joy in everyday life.

You got that right! It’s part of a home improvement project designed to make life more fun. It serves the primary purpose of getting house occupants from one floor to the next, and it’s done in a unique, stylish way.


Architect: H.a (www.facebook.com/workshopha) + NQN. (www.facebook.com/nqn.architects)


The article is an excerpt from “Home Office / Home Studio,” a book that compiles ideas on integrating “home” with “workspace” to create a comfortable and suitable environment for small companies, startups, and creative individuals.

You can find it at leading bookstores throughout Thailand or order it through various online channels.

INBOX: m.me/roomfan
NAIIN: https://www.naiin.com/product/detail/582920
SHOPEE: https://shp.ee/uirj9q5
LAZADA: https://s.lazada.co.th/s.9V0vz


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Never Too Small: Renovation Gives a Townhouse the Atmosphere of Home

Never Too Small: Renovation Gives a Townhouse the Atmosphere of Home

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

/ Story: Wuthikorn Sut / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Nattakit Jeerapatmitee /

An old townhouse in the heart of Bangkok’s downtown has been lovingly restored in ways that adapt to changing lifestyle needs. No longer is it a stuffy, overcrowded space lacking fresh air and ventilation. A redesigned open floor plan has given it the feeling of home, a sense of belonging and purpose. Incredibly light and airy, it feels like anything but a townhouse, so to speak.

Inheriting the townhouse from his parents, the new owner has made a firm decision to renovate it to a good state of repair.

It’s the place where he lives when traveling to the city for business. Or it can be available to be rented if need be.

The task of refurbishment was given to a team of architects from the design firm OAAS. Central to their work was the creation of an open concept home plan that’s flexible for multiple uses.

townhouse

townhouse

Accordingly, the old second-floor balcony was knocked down and replaced by steel framing for a light and spacious façade.

Upstairs, the entire floor plan was revised, while the ground floor platform was raised slightly to keep it above the edge of the water during a flood.

townhouse

Never too small to make a difference, the newly refurbished townhouse stands out from the rest in that its building shell is made of air bricks that are great for natural ventilation.

The perforated bricks double as a decorative privacy screen that protects the home from prying eyes. It’s a surefire way to improve air circulation and get rid of stuffy smells, a common problem of townhouse living.

townhouse

The wooden door opens into a surprisingly peaceful semi-outdoor room aptly named “Sala”, which is Thai for garden pavilion. Albeit situated at the front of the house, it’s a private living space that conveniently connects to the sitting room and dining area lying further inside.

Beautifully designed, it calls to mind an image of a garden sitting area with a side passage for walking along.

townhouse

The overall effect is impressive. The side passage sets this townhouse apart from the others.

Since it’s often impossible to build a walkway around a townhouse, it makes perfect sense to build one on the inside that connects the garden pavilion at the front with the living room and other functions at the rear.

townhouse

There is a challenge to overcome. Because the side passage takes away a large chunk of the square footage of the house, the designers have to make a choice from a range of possibilities.

Among them, an open concept floor plan is useful in making the home feel more spacious. There’s no need for room dividers for a home theater or TV lounge since it’s never a desirable lifestyle here.

Plus, by floating furniture, the owner is free to create a more intimate atmosphere and a layout that’s capable of multiple uses.


Owner: Jiramate Chanaturakarnnon

Architect: OAAS

Design team: Sineenart Suptanon, Sirakit Charoenkitpisut, Nattakit Jeerapatmitee, Jiramate Chanaturakarnnon


The article is an excerpt from “Shophouse & Townhome”, a proudly presented publication from the “Best Home Series” under “room Books Publishing.
Available in paperback (Thai Edition) at: https://www.naiin.com/product/detail/532110
Here’s how to order online. https://www.naiin.com/how-to-buy/read/1125


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303 House: A Modern Narrow Townhouse on a Narrow Lot

303 House: A Narrow Townhome Inspired by Aircraft Interior

303 House: A Narrow Townhome Inspired by Aircraft Interior

/ Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam /

/ Story: Nawapat Dusdul / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Quang Tran /

An architectural practice called “Sawadeesign Studio” has applied innovative aircraft cabin ideas to give this narrow townhome a complete makeover. The small family home sits sandwiched between two low-rise buildings in the heart of Tan Binh, an urban district of Ho Chi Minh City. They named the project “303 House.”

Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City

Narrow townhomes are a typical housing type omnipresent throughout central Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. By law, places of residence with a narrow frontage to the street (smaller than 3 meters across, to be exact) are not permitted to have more than one level.

In this particular case, the only way to build is arrange all the usable spaces and functions on the same horizontal plane. And the result is a renovation done right in every sense of the word.

Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City

From the outside looking in, the entire width of the house is only 2.9 meters. With the exterior walls installed, the inside space comes to just 2.7 meters wide.

Interestingly enough, well-thought-out design turns an awkward narrow plot into a single-story home that’s simple with all useable spaces giving off good vibes. The bright and airy home occupies less than 90 square meters of land.

Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City

The design duo, Doan Si Nguyen and Vo Thanh Phat, decided against the most commonly used construction technique. They proposed an alternative method aimed at reducing the amount of concrete used, an option that risked being rejected by investors from the get-go.

For indoor thermal comfort, the ceilings are made of Rockwool tole about 150 mm thick. The coated sheet metal is widely used in the storage industry and large warehouses for its excellent thermal insulation. Here, it’s used to make the interior living spaces comfortable day and night.

Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City

The contemporary home interior features mixed materials. Among them, grey plaster on the wall proves a perfect complement to gray epoxy paint on the floor. Together, they provide desirable elements for a calm, peaceful home. Everywhere, furniture made of plywood is a great way to add natural touches to the interior.

Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City

As the architects put it, the secret to creating a healthy indoor environment lies in putting multiple layers of functional spaces in neat order to shield the home from the busy street outside. This is especially true in HCMC, where many homes are prone to suffer from the negative effects of outside noise and unrestricted growth of housing areas and commercial development.

Fascinatingly, aircraft cabin ideas came in handy for the townhome built on an extremely long and narrow plot of land. It’s reminiscent to walking along an aisle between rows of seats on an aircraft.

Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City

There’s a paved outdoor area in front of the house entrance that provides a place to socialize. Step inside, and you come into a corridor connecting to a living area, kitchen, and laundry room. Wall-mounted storage cabinets line one side of the aisle, with beautifully organized functional spaces on the other.

There are two bedrooms with a bathroom attached tucked away in a quiet place half way down, plus a third bedroom at the rear of the house accessible by a small corridor. Where appropriate, clear roofing materials provide light for houseplants, while openings in the rooftop drive air circulation keeping the interior cool and comfortable without air conditioning.

Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh CityModern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City

The house plan is not only tailored to the specific needs of a family of three, but it’s also a well-thought-out place of abode amid the hustle and bustle of the city.

As is often the case with most urban areas, for homeowners there’s a tendency to rent out the space in front of their houses to small retailers and businesses. But the family living at 303 House doesn’t need that kind of income. They prefer to keep the door closed and enjoy privacy in the comfort of their home. Albeit small, it’s an oasis of calm — a home sweet home no doubt.

Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City


Architect: Sawadeesign Studio (www.sawadeesign.net)

Lead Architects: Doan Si Nguyen and Vo Thanh Phat


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Three-Storey Townhouse That Makes Space for Nature

Three-Storey Townhouse That Makes Space for Nature

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

/ Story: Sarayut Sreetip-ard / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Sitthisak Namkham / Styling: Jeedwonder /

Before moving into this three-storey townhouse, architect and university instructor Bhradon Kukiatnun really put his heart into the design and décor to bring about a conversation among people, animals, and things, partly intentional, partly by impulse. Here are imperfections that are either blemishes or beauty marks, depending on our viewpoint.

townhouse Architect Bhradon Kukiatnun

Bhradon’s business is booming, but designing his own house raised a tremendous number of new questions, not the least of which was how the new living space of a three-storey townhouse would accommodate his eleven cats!

“Three years ago, I bought this place new, and it took two years to fix up,” explained Bradon.

“First problem: organize storage space to hold the tremendous amount of personal stuff needed in my life while still keeping the house orderly. Then, I didn’t want a typical townhouse atmosphere, but neither should it be jarringly different.

“Part of the answer is this new façade, using a type of latticework found elsewhere in the project that fits my personal lifestyle.”

three-storey townhouse

As most townhouses add a roofed-over carport in front, Bhradon also applied his design idea to this requirement.

“There’s more than meets the eye in that front view: a lot of the functions are hidden,” said the architect.

“To really express myself, I had to go back and look at fundamentals with flexibility and an open mind.

“The space in front is limited. Would I rather have a carport there, or a garden? OK, garden: so I designed a garden where I could park the car! Quite different from having a carport decorated with plants.”

three-storey townhouse

three-storey townhouse

The design of this three-storey townhouse called for no structural alterations, but space was apportioned differently. The ground floor holds the living room, dining area, and pantry; second floor, a small bedroom and a workroom; third floor, the master bedroom.

“Inside, you might mistake a door for a wall, or vice versa: my overall concept was to focus on highlighting specific points, making them fit in by hiding some element,” Bhradon explained.

“In the living room, the TV wall is highlighted by hiding its functionality in a wall; the use of covering elements gives the feeling of being in a cave.”

three-storey townhouse

During our conversation Ando, Bhradon’s first adopted cat snuggled up as if to join the group.

“I learned a lot from raising cats,” he said blissfully.

“They don’t think like people. Sometimes our human knowledge drowns out our instincts. But a cat! It wants to sit, lie wherever, just does what it wants.

“This allows single things to have more than one function: TV cabinet or sitting place? Or, for us, a storage spot. Think outside the box.”

three-storey townhouse

three-storey townhouse

three-storey townhouse

We urban dwellers all long for nature. Bhradon answered this with a garden area in the rear of this three-storey townhouse, as he put it: “I think gardens nourish the psyche, so I put a little green in the house, along with a small guppy pond, and it’s a perfect spirit-refresher.

“I like the ‘wabi-sabi’ way of design; the beauty of imperfection, of real life,” he implied. “Real life involves rust; it involves injuries. Can’t eliminate these, right?”

As Bhradon’s speaking voice gradually softened, an unspoken conversation brought into focus the future of the house, the man, the cats, and whatever might lie ahead for them.

“Recently, my cat Kuma died, and I miss her every day. But through the sorrow of loss we see the beauty of living. Being natural is to be incomplete, and we have to live with the things that happen.”


Owner/Architect: Bhradon Kukiatnun


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Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

/ Story: Sarayut Sreetip-ard / English version: Peter Montalbano /

/ Photographs: Sitthisak Namkham / Styling: Jeedwonder /

The renovation of this hundred-plus-year-old rowhouse in Charoen Krung Soi 44 is more than a home improvement: for Mou Lumwatananont, it’s a homecoming she’d never imagined.

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

“My mother was born here, but we moved out before I was two. After building it up from 2 storeys to 2½ storeys, my aunt continued to use it as an office,” the owner began to tell the house’s story.

“However, that business ended many years ago, and it has been only two years since we began making plans for renovation and conversion to fulfill our long-time dream of a guest house and a café.”

This area’s former prosperity is apparent in traces of European colonial-style architecture and bustling alleys that now welcome international tourists and backpackers to the charm of its storied history.

Mou and architect Pok (Wachirasak Maneewatanaperk) from sea.monkey.coconut share views on the value of preserving history through architecture.

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

 

The architect explained, “Renovating this great old building, I didn’t want to change a lot. But I discovered it had already changed.”

“An upper floor had been added, and it had been expanded outback as far as it could go. The entire second-storey wooden floor had been covered with another material.”

In line with building preservation guidelines, the architect decided to make clear distinctions between old and new.

They kept intact the front wall and brick walls all around, chiseling off interior mortar to show weight-bearing structures, including wood wall beams fitted into brick arches, and keeping the charming mortared patterns of the original roof.

 

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

The lower floor is chic travelers’ café, a wooden stairway stretching up to guest rooms above. Visitors might wonder about the functionality of the steel poles they see set at intervals throughout. It is the by-product of the makeover process, as the architect told:

“This area is a walled-in rectangle, and without changing outer walls and structure at all, we’ve created a new house within the frame of the old one, sinking micro pilings into the root foundation and installing all new support pillars.

“It was important to keep the new structure separate. Concrete flooring was poured on the ground level and separated by a foam at the joints where it meets the original walls.

“These “expansion joints” keep outer and inner structures from being attached, so if the floor subsides, it won’t pull a wall down with it. On the second level, we’d intended to keep the original wood flooring, but found irreparable termite damage, so we had to replace it.”

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

Explaining the challenges of the construction process, the architect added, “At the back of the house, we changed to steel and drywall construction to install walls and latticework.

“Building here was difficult because of the limited space. Fronting on a narrow street made delivery difficult. There was nowhere to stack and store materials, so all work had to begin inside.

“When the inside was done, we brought in the materials stored outside and switched to working on the front. There was a lot of planning involved to make it possible for the craftsmen to be able to work at all.”

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

Row houses lasting more than a hundred years naturally tell stories with marks from sun and wind, just as with marks left on our lives by travel.

Leaving to study and live in England for more than twenty years, Mou could never have expected the winds would slowly blow her back to her origins with a new feeling, one born of love and dreams.

The word “Chez” is French, meaning “at,” or “at the home of,” hence the name: Mou has opened her home to welcome friends at “Chez Mou,” where stories are told by marks on bricks and sweet smiles.

Here is a place full of feeling of release from travel, and full of a bittersweet, gentle fragrance.


Architect: Wachirasak Maneewatanaperk of sea.monkey.coconut (www.facebook.com/sea.monkey.coconut)


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The Perfect Townhouse Makeover in Bangkok

The Perfect Townhouse Makeover in Bangkok

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

/ Story: Wuthikorn Sut / English version: Peter Montalbano /

/ Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul /

The townhouse is a common type of building in Thailand, especially in Bangkok. Homeowner and architect Narong Othavorn grew up in one, always thinking of ways it could be better designed. Eventually, he and his wife Pim Achariyasilpa chose a 30-year-old townhouse in Si Phraya, a downtown neighborhood, and turned it into one of the most excellent townhouse makeover projects in the city.

townhouse makeover
Overall, the final building is a combination of the adjacent townhouses. Narong kept the original wrought-metal façade, modifying the original metal entrance door with a mixed frame of wood and steel, leaving the next-door side the entrance to a fourth-floor warehouse.

A picture window in the living room brings in natural light onto washed gravel walls that lead down to a small garden behind the house, inspiration for the “double space” mezzanine.


townhouse makeover

The double-space ceiling isn’t only about making the lower level look good: it supports the open-plan design.

Glass panels in the dining nook of the mezzanine above extend a feeling of comfort to every space in the house. From the mezzanine there’s a continuous view through glass partitions out to the garden behind the house, and there’s steady circulation of air from front to back.

Townhouses are apt to feel cramped, but not this one! The light is different in each area, but the light is what connects everything.

townhouse makeover

townhouse makeover

townhouse makeover

“These things came from our own personal tastes. Pim likes well-lit spaces. Me, I like indirect light,” explained Narong.

“So with a house for the two of us, we had to get the division of space just right, using the light available in each area. The lower floor is bathed in subdued natural light; upstairs, the living room is brightly lit through the front window.

“Moving back to the dining area and bar, the light is dimmer. Go upstairs to the bathroom and dressing areas and it’s lighter again, suiting the specific limitations and characteristics of each space.”

townhouse makeover

“Small, but spacious” is how both owners refer to this house: better than adequate, the size is really perfect.

Not so small as to be cramped. Everywhere some things catch your eyes up close and others at a distance. The home offers a master class on how townhouse renovation can work with limited areas to create special, interesting spaces.

Even though adjoining buildings make side windows impossible, careful arrangement of space and windows on higher levels give this house a beauty that is anything but ordinary.

townhouse makeover

townhouse makeover

townhouse makeover

townhouse makeover

townhouse makeover


Owner/Architect: Narong Othavorn of SO (www.soarchitects.space)


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House in Trees: Well-made Home on a Narrow Lot

House in Trees: Well-made Home on a Narrow Lot

/ Bac Ninh, Vietnam /

/ Story: Samutcha Viraporn / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Trieu Chien /

Having to build on a narrow piece of land, an architect creates an urban home ingeniously designed to utilize the space in imaginative ways. Relevantly called “House in Trees,” the slim plan makes the best of circumstances by letting nature permeate.

The so-called “House in Trees” sits on a narrow lot measuring 5 by 15 meters in Tu Son, a county town in Bac Ninh Province, Vietnam.

The area is fast becoming industrialized as the city grows. Putting it mildly, the impacts of urban growth are already being felt, from noise to traffic fumes and other negative effects that come with industrialization.

On top of that, the location dictates that the house be built facing west.

Be that as it may, the design team at Nguyen Khac Phuoc Architects succeeds in creating an uncluttered, incredibly relaxed home for a family with two teenage children.

Where the land is so narrow, the only way to go is up. The slim floor plans afford three bedrooms with baths, living room, kitchen, carport and storage, as well as an entertainment center, worship room, laundry.

The five-story home makes good use of two void spaces, one in front, the other in the center court.

Because the front façade is facing west, the architects fill the front void space with a leafy tree to protect the interior living spaces from hot afternoon sun and traffic fumes.

The second void space at the center is filled with greenery while lush shade keeps the homeowners naturally cool all year round. The idea is to let nature permeate as much as can be.

Tall bamboo and leafy trees diffuse natural light during daytime hours and protect the interior from gusty winds and rain.

The greenery-filled center court not only evokes a walk in the park, but also provides privacy for all the rooms that are set at tree-top levels.
A patch of greenery lines the corridor connecting the living room, kitchen and dining room.

One of the unexpected ways to decorate with plants. Greenery brings good energy, textures, and character into every space.

“The design is done within the context of the home’s unique surroundings,” explained the architects.

“We incorporate nature in the floor plan to promote better living condition for people living in it. Urban growth and industrialization are fast happening and they no doubt have impacts on the environment.”

 


Architect: Nguyen Khac Phuoc Architects


From Unexciting Shophouse to Smart Home Office in HCMC

From Unexciting Shophouse to Smart Home Office in HCMC

/ Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam /

/ Story: Samutcha Viraporn / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Quang Dam /

Home offices are trendy nowadays. Given thoughtful planning, a dull shophouse can transform into a fashionable dwelling and place of business. The results are illustrated in this home office that looks to be one of the trendiest in Ho Chi Minh City.

home office in HCMC

The new design integrates a modern living space and a home office with a factory producing handcrafted leather goods. The house’s front façade is filled up with elaborate structural rod systems reminiscent of a giant labyrinth of beautiful needlework, albeit built of brick and steel.

It’s only recently that a homeowner couple acquired this downtown retail space and later decided to give it a complete makeover. “This house means everything to us because it’s the fruit of constant efforts to pursue our dreams,” said the young couple with an active lifestyle.

home office in HCMC

 

home office in HCMC

“For a product to be successful, say a handbag, it takes many processes involving fastidious needlework,” said the owners comparing their manufacturing job to that of the architect.

“Like meticulous craftsmen, the architect carefully puts together different parts to make a home, mixing old pieces with new ones, replacing unneeded features with practical strategies, and relying on well-thought-out plans to use every ingredient effectively, be it wood, brick, concrete, metal or even trees.”

 

home office in HCMC

home office in HCMC

In a way, this pretty much explains the elaborate structural rod systems that fill up the redesigned front façade. Elsewhere, parts of the walls and flooring deemed to be unnecessary were removed to make room for new ideas.

The remodeled front and rear facades showcase a multitude of steel cube frames welded together to look like a web of fine threads being “sewn” together to fill the void between two side walls.

The welded steel rod paneling is painted white and decorated with climbing plants thriving in full sun. Despite its slender appearance, the design is strong enough for home protection, at the same time creating a light and airy ambience for both indoors and outdoors.

home office in HCMC

Among other things, the old concrete stairway was removed to prevent the indoors from feeling stale and stifling. Then, a new set of airy stairs with no risers between the treads was put in place instead.

For a lightweight look, stair railings were crafted of steel rods painted white with wood treads in complementing shades. The uplifting design rendered the staircase looking as if it were hovering above the floor.

shvf01

In the kitchen and dining area, a long curvy counter stands in contrast to the stillness of rough brick texture on the wall. All in all, clever design has transformed an unexciting shophouse interior into a home office that looks to be one of the trendiest in Ho Chi Minh City.

home office in HCMC


Architect: Block Architects (www.blockarchitects.com.vn)


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Stacking Green: Integrating Nature-Inspired Design in a Row House

Stacking Green: Integrating Nature-Inspired Design in a Row House

/ Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam /

/ Story: Ekkarach Laksanasamrith / English version: Peter Montalbano /

/ Photographs: Soopakon Srisakul /

This residence in Ho Chi Minh City has an interesting form and exterior that has drawn us to see with our own eyes. Named “Stacking Green”, this row house design received an award for outstanding design and architectural works at the 2012 World Architecture Festival in Singapore. It’s not surprising that it received a citation for architectural excellence in the residential building category. The way that it dealt with complex urban problems in a simple way yielded an array of fascinating outcomes.

row house
The stairway reaches the top floor of the house that holds a guest bedroom with a sundeck.

The four-story townhouse offers a total of 250 square meters of usable space. The frontage abutting on the street is 4 meters wide with a whopping 20-meter depth. The interior is especially designed for the three people who live here, one of whom is an old person. Hence, one bedroom is placed on the lowest floor, so there’s no need to climb the stairs.

3
Since the house plan is long and narrow, bringing sunlight into the interior living space is a very good idea.

The second floor consists of a dining room, kitchen and living room, while the third holds the master bedroom with an open floor plan bathroom. The guest bedroom is located on the fourth floor.

row house

It’s a well-known fact that people’s homes in Vietnam are often compactly built in townhouse form to use as little property space as possible, often resulting in cramped residences and unattractive-looking building fronts.

Here, the architects have incorporated privacy in the design so that no one can look in from outside. At the same time, it gives the homeowners a sense of peace and contentment. Overall, it’s a design thoughtfully devised to reduce pollution from the street.

row house
This row house may not have any eye-catching features from the outside, yet its half-open, half-opaque design allows natural light to enter through the rooftop, creating a cozy home ambience within.
As the leafy plants reach their full size, the level of privacy correspondingly increases.
As the leafy plants reach their full size, the level of privacy correspondingly increases.

Additionally, both the front and the back of the house feature rows of containers stacked one on top of the others with open air spaces at intervals. In all of them, lush green plants thrive luxuriantly screening the view inwards and creating attractive façades.

The house also has open ports which run up and down through all the floors. This kind of stack ventilation effect allows for hot air from below to rise and vent out through the rooftop. And by the same token, fresh cooler air is drawn inside keeping the heat down even at high noon.

row house
Sunlight through a glass skylight in the roof shines down into the dining room on the second floor.

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In the front yard, a leafy shade tree improves air quality, while vertical gardening on the front and back facades has spaces between stacking containers that allow plants to grow. The open spaces between planter boxes are determined by the types of vegetation planted. The full height of a plant is used to fix the spacing between planters on each floor.

Step inside, and you find there are hardly any walls separating the home into different rooms, except for bathrooms. This creates efficient ventilation throughout the home, at the same time giving it an open, uncluttered feel.

Besides giving privacy and cooling shade to the house, the planter boxes and leafy vegetation also act as a safety feature.
Besides giving privacy and cooling shade to the house, the planter boxes and leafy vegetation also act as a safety feature.

In this way, when container plants reach their full heights, they become the outer envelope of the building. Together they go to work all day and every day filtering out harsh UV rays from the sun, at the same time letting the cool breezes flow through.

The architects picked only the trees and plants with fine and delicate foliage so as not to block the wind, and for ease of use, they installed pipes for an automatic watering system.

row house

Concrete planter boxes holding plants on the front and back facades have the added convenience of an automatic watering system.
Concrete planter boxes holding plants on the front and back facades have the added convenience of an automatic watering system.

Architect: Vo Trong Nghia Architects


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An Open Concept Urban Home with a Minimalist Flair in Kuala Lumpur

An Open Concept Urban Home with a Minimalist Flair in Kuala Lumpur

/ Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia /

/ Story: Ekkarach Laksanasamrith / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul /

With the creative use of design elements, this Minimalist house in Kuala Lumpur feels bright, airy and comfortable, albeit having only a small number of windows. The open concept urban home with a stylish flair was designed and built by Tony Heneberry of 2’s Company, formerly JTJ Design, under the concept of a great place to live in.

Minimalist urban home
Growing trees add some freshness and makes the house more of a great place to live in.

As simple as that, here’s the story of a metamorphosis of purpose, in which a duo of unexciting shophouses transformed into an incredibly warm and roomy living space in the heart of town. After he had bought the two units attached to each other, Heneberry gave them a complete makeover, tearing down the dividing walls and combining them into one coherent whole with increased usable spaces inside.

Minimalist urban home
Green foliage adds joy to cooking, making it feel like living out in nature.

The result is a 7-meter-wide façade looking much better than when Henebery found it. He removed the existing solid walls between them and assigned new functions to the interior spaces. The living room with dining area on the second floor is spacious, with a lot of open areas in accordance with the “open plan” concept.

Minimalist urban home
Trees chosen for the center courtyard have medium-sized leaves to keep the house airy and not too dense.
Minimalist urban home
Using an “open plan” design means the interior is all connected, which avoids a cluttered look.
The new set of stairs illuminated by a rooftop skylight is one of the spots everyone likes the most.
The new set of stairs illuminated by a rooftop skylight is one of the spots everyone likes the most.

For practical reasons, the old staircases were torn down and replaced by new ones built in a better, more convenient location. The new sets of stairs crafted of steel sit in a hallway next to the center courtyard, leading the way to the second floor.

The courtyard is filled with trees, as a main relaxation area of the house, where a glimpse of outdoor experience is brought inside in harmony. The trees also create visual continuity by naturally drawing the eyes towards the interior.

The stair to the third floor is set in another location. It sits against the outer wall, to preserve the space inside, which is an area for work and rest.

[Above] The wooden roof truss painted all white makes the overhead space look taller and more spacious. / [Below] The new metal staircase is aesthetically pleasing, thanks to the absence of solid risers between the treads. For good ventilation, expanded metal grating is used instead.
[Above] The wooden roof truss painted all white makes the overhead space look taller and more spacious. / [Below] The new metal staircase is aesthetically pleasing, thanks to the absence of solid risers between the treads. For good ventilation, expanded metal grating is used instead.
Minimalist urban home
Natural light turns second-floor living and work spaces into a well-lighted place, plus high ceilings add an airy feel to it. The disadvantage that comes with having only a few windows is nicely compensated for by the creative use of design elements, rooftop skylights among them.

As for the ventilation system, hot air is able to float up through the hallway and then flows out through window louvers and vents on the rooftop.

Another plus is, this Minimalist urban home faces south. So, by putting planter boxes on window frames, a simple vertical garden is added to filter sunlight and enhance privacy for the people living inside. The bottom line. This newly renovated home is truly a breath of fresh air.

[Left] The hallway wall surface is covered with crushed concrete recycled from the old shophouses. / [Right] Lush green vertical gardening adds a refreshing change to the front façade rising above the carport.

Architect: 2’s Company (www.facebook.com/JtjDesign)


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