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A Renovated Shophouse with a Hidden Gem, Simply Delightful

A Renovated Shophouse with a Hidden Gem, Simply Delightful

/ Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam /

/ Story: Phattaraphon / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Quang Tran /

This small shophouse in Ho Chi Minh City has been renovated to answer the specific needs of a family of four and their pet cats. From time to time, Grandma comes by to watch the little children and stay overnight. As may be expected of the narrow-front dwelling ubiquitous across Vietnam’s urban landscapes, the house plan is much longer than it is wide, plus there is a problem.

renovated shophouse Vietnam
A view from the street, perforated metal panels painted a cool-toned white provide privacy protection.

Facing the northwest direction, the front façade gets full afternoon sun causing heat gain inside the already tiny home lacking fresh air and ventilation. It’s amazing how a well-thought-out makeover changes everything, resulting in a bright and airy living space.

renovated shophouse Vietnam

The perforated metal fence gate works in tandem with the principal face of the building creating a transition between indoor and outdoor living spaces.
renovated shophouse Vietnam
Arranged on a long and narrow plan, the sitting room up front is separated from living spaces at the rear by a small green oasis lit by a rooftop skylight.

The homeowners sought the advice of professionals, THIA Architecture of Ho Chi Minh City, to improve the situation. After thorough site inspections, a team of designers came up with a plan to renovate the front of the house in two parts.

First, at ground level the old opaque fence gate was removed and replaced by a new one made entirely of perforated steel sheets. Little holes in the steel panels let fresh outdoor air pass through and circulate inside, meanwhile providing diffused light and improving home privacy.

Then, on top of the fence gate a framework of metal bars is put in, anchored securely to the concrete wall up front. Designed as a support for climbing plants, it rises as high as the roof eave, creating in a double layer façade that’s beautiful and capable of keeping the heat out. At least that’s the future plan.

[Left] A trio of drawings illustrates space utilization on the first and second floors as well as the rooftop skylight. / [Right] A street map shows the house location in relation to others in the neighborhood. / Courtesy of THIA Architecture
[Left] A side elevation view in cross section shows the relationship between natural and built-up environments. / [Right] A concept of decorative patterns on the house façade seen from the street. / Courtesy of THIA Architecture

renovated shophouse Vietnam
An open floor plan creates a smooth flow from the sitting room to dining room and a small green space lit by a rooftop skylight.
A sunlit small courtyard, for lack of a better word, brightens the room at the center of the house plan.
Sitting nook design ideas under a gable roof provide a gimmick intended to evoke memories of Vietnam’s rustic countryside.
Grandma’s bedroom tucked away at the rear is a calm personal living space well-lit by natural daylight.

Walk through the metal fence gate, and you discover a small terrace bringing in natural light and fresh air into the family living room with a kitchen and dining room nearby.

Grandma’s bedroom is tucked away at the rear of the house plan, separated from the sitting room up front by a small interior green space illuminated by a rooftop skylight. By design, it’s an added feature that solves the problem of stale air and stuffy room once and for all.

renovated shophouse Vietnam

Its small size notwithstanding, the interior green space exudes the simplicity and charm considered typical of the Vietnamese countryside. It looks neat and is well cared for. Plus, weather-beaten wood and vintage earthen roof tiles provide a gimmick intended to attract attention.

From here, a set of stairs lead to the second floor holding the principal bedroom up front, separated from two bedrooms for kids by the void of space above the tiny center courtyard.

renovated shophouse Vietnam
The stairway and its surrounding walls are illuminated by a skylight built into the rooftop.
renovated shophouse Vietnam
Split level layout ideas paired with a mezzanine add intrigue and interest to interior design.

renovated shophouse Vietnam
The bedroom wall facing the void of space above the yard opens to admit light and fresh air.

renovated shophouse Vietnam

renovated shophouse Vietnam
A custom made window in just the right size opens to connect with the inner courtyard, a clever hack to avoid stale air and stuffy summers.

renovated shophouse Vietnam

In closing, it’s the story of a little house made comfortable, bright and airy by well-thought-out design. The center courtyard, for lack of a better word, provides a communal space shared by all members of the family, the result of a renovation done right that makes a small home a happy home.

renovated shophouse Vietnam
A set of stairs gives access to children’s bedrooms at the rear, separated from the principal bedroom up front by the void of space above the sunlit small courtyard.

Architect: THIA Architecture

Lead designer: Arc Huynh Xuan Thi


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Tan Phu HouseTan Phu House: From a Stuffy, Narrow Shophouse to a Multi-Floor Home with Rooftop Garden

Tan Phu House: From a Stuffy, Narrow Shophouse to a Multi-Floor Home with Rooftop Garden

Tan Phu House: From a Stuffy, Narrow Shophouse to a Multi-Floor Home with Rooftop Garden

/ Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam /

/ Story: ND24 / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Courtesy of k59 ateliers /

Row houses sharing common sidewalls are a familiar sight across Vietnam. Here’s the story of a complete home transformation. A narrow shophouse lacking fresh air and ventilation in Ho Chi Minh City is tastefully renovated as a four-story home with ample space for gardening on the rooftop. Named Tan Phu House, it’s light, airy and looking really good in cool-toned whites.

Tan Phu House
Upfront, the parking garage is bright and breezy, thanks to the upper covering that opens on one side to let sunlight shine in, thereby improving air quality through greater ventilation.

There are pros and cons of living in the big city. And Ho Chi Minh City is no stranger to air and noise pollution plus overcrowding in the downtown area. Fully aware of all that, a design team at k59 atelier, a homegrown architectural practice, succeeded in breathing new life into the once stuffy old house, turning it into a modern living space with sunny personality and charms.

A diagrammatic representation shows the house location in a city neighborhood characterized by long and narrow row houses, a familiar sight seen everywhere across the country. / Courtesy of k59 Atelier
A diagrammatic representation shows space utilization and functionality on all four levels of the house. / Courtesy of k59 Atelier
A perspective side-elevation drawing illustrates in cross section the connectivity between living spaces, service areas and greenery on all four levels. / Courtesy of k59 Atelier

First things first, they started by observing the behavioral health of the three generations that live here – grandparents, mom and dad, and the children. Then, they looked at the state of the surroundings to see if natural features such as shade trees, air quality and sunshine can be incorporated in the new design.

It’s all about creating a health giving environment. Here, though, it’s accomplished by incorporating shade trees in front of the house in the new design. Together they provide a buffer protecting the front façade against too much sun, noise and air pollution.

As simple as that! The trees and the remodeled principal face of the building now work alongside each other sheltering the interior living spaces from the elements.

Tan Phu House

And it’s achieved without blocking the air flow and natural light streaming into the home. The architects did it by creating flow acceleration channels in the building design that act as engine driving natural air circulation into and out of the home.

The result is a refreshing change on all four levels of the home. At the same time, all the living spaces and service areas are arranged in a neat, required order.

Tan Phu House
Double-skin design. The greenery-filled front façade provides a buffer protecting the inner house wall against sun heat. Meantime, louvre windows offer protection from the elements.

Take a look inside. The ground floor holds a parking garage and entry area leading to interior living spaces, which include a sitting room where Grandma babysits little children during the daytime. It lies exposed to sunlight in the morning that proves beneficial for physical and mental health, among others.

Tan Phu House
On the ground floor, a kitchen and dining space next to the welcome area provides a refreshing change.
Tan Phu House
The ground floor holds a sitting room for relaxation at the rear of the house plan.

The second floor has a living room and study room with quiet reading nooks to kids. They are connected to children’s bedrooms located further inside.

The third floor that’s quiet and more secluded contains the principal bedroom with bathroom en suite and a laundry room at the far end.

The fourth floor has a Buddha room with the altar for the traditional veneration of family ancestry and a vegetable garden overlooking the street below.

Tan Phu House Ho Chi Minh City
A well-lit family living room lies in the forward area of the second floor.
A well-lit and airy staircase connects to the second floor holding a living room and study with quiet reading nooks for children’s schoolwork.

Tan Phu House Ho Chi Minh City

Tan Phu House Ho Chi Minh City
Double height space design turns a stuffy, narrow shophouse into a well-lighted place.

The architect explained: “In the new design, air flow acceleration channels are of the utmost importance. They are the game changer that improves the existing situation in a significant way, resulting in a relaxing atmosphere in the home.

“In the meantime, all the rooms and functions are conveniently linked while the floor plan is easy to understand and suitable for Asian culture and traditions.”

Tan Phu House Ho Chi Minh City

All told, it’s practical design that comes from paying attention to detail. Tan Phu House is completely renovated as residential community living model, one that’s tailored to suit specific family lifestyle needs.

Wood colors add feelings of peace and calm to the master bedroom on the third floor.
Tan Phu House Ho Chi Minh City
Double height space design makes the laundry area lit by skylights feel spacious and airy.
The third-floor bathroom at the rear of the house is well lit by skylights providing protection against humidity damage.
The top floor has an altar room for the traditional veneration of family ancestry in accordance with Asian culture.

In the end it boils down to, as the architect put it, “a design that provides all the desirable elements perfect for good living in this day and age, a living space that’s complete and integrated in one coherent whole from our perspectives.”

Tan Phu House Ho Chi Minh City
The rooftop sundeck on the fourth floor has ample space for vegetable gardening.

Owner: Le Ngoc Hoang, Bui Thu Thuy

Architect: k59 atelier (k59atelier.com)

Design Team: Phan Lam Nhat Nam, Tran Cam Linh

Structural Engineer: Phạm Dong Tâm


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

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/ 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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Siri House: From Ordinary Shophouses to a Charming Family Co-living Space

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/ Bangkok, Thailand

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

/ Photographs: Rithirong Chanthongsuk /

Who would have thought a pair of shophouses lacking interest and imagination could turn into a pleasant family co-living home? Only recently the shophouse duo located on Surawong Road in the heart of Bangkok’s downtown was tastefully renovated as a shared residential community model. The result is a co-living space and place of business integration that’s well designed, full of life and energy.

Co-living space

The place of residence aptly named “Siri House” is the brainchild of the Bangkok-based architectural firm IDIN Architects Co., Ltd. Architect Jeravej Hongsakul is the driving force behind the design and renovation project. He attributed the firm’s success to its ability to reinterpret co-living spaces from entirely different perspectives.

Co-living space
The building’s diamond-shape façade bears the distinctive hallmarks of the family’s jewelry business. Plus, it highlights the three design considerations that create an effective and attractive composition – the qualities of being direct, clean and outstanding.
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Flashback. The early stage before the renovation project takes physical form.

There’s a solution to every challenge,” said Jiravej. When horizontal living is no longer the suitable choice in an urban setting, the idea of vertical living comes in handy so as to combine residential and social areas in one coherent whole. And in this particular case, the only way to build is upwards.

In essence, it’s about creating a happy, healthy and thriving home, and hence the name “Siri House” meaning the place of prosperity.

Co-living space

2

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The family living space on the top floor consists of a dining room and nearby sitting area holding a home theater and spaces for relaxation.

Co-living space

A new landmark on Surawong, the building with a distinctive facade belongs to Suree Sirivatjanangkun who shares the co-living space with her siblings.

On the emotional bonds between the people and the place, she said, “We figured it should also be an office for our family business. It’s better to live and work together as one extended family, a big family in the business neighborhood.

Co-living space
The house has four private residential units accessible via the entrance hall illuminated by natural light.

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“We wanted a living space that is warm and welcoming, the kind that provides a modern living atmosphere in which family members interact and socialize with one another. Everyone needs a place and time to unwind and still wants to see and care for each other. To me, that’s co-living.” Suree continued.

“Precisely, we wanted a design that’s inclusive, in which every one live together sharing a co-living space, not the type that’s divided into different floors, one floor per person. That would be no different than living separately.”

Co-living space

With this in mind, Jeravej came up with a solution. “I designed each residential unit to be able to stand alone and is fully functional. I paid attention to detail in each component, from the living room, bedroom and workspace, to the double volume leisure room, bathroom and kitchen, and made sure they fitted together in an effective and practical way.

“Because it’s a good-sized place with lots of functions, I needed to manage them very carefully. To improve traffic flow in the home, each residential unit is accessible via the main hallway that allows plenty of natural light into the interior. And by design, each unit is unique in its own special way.”

Co-living space
Bedroom windows at the rear of the building open to relaxing greenery. Nearby, a clean, uncluttered workspace is peacefully ensconced behind the diamond-shaped façade overlooking the street in front, a scene reminiscent of a cafe-esque view.
Co-living space
The family business operation on the first floor offers customer reception seating in deep blue that calls to the mind feelings of calmness and stability. Nearby, a lightweight spiral staircase leads to meeting rooms on the mezzanine.

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The homeowner wrapped it up nicely. Siri House will always be home to the close-knit siblings who live and work here. To them, it doesn’t matter it’s built for horizontal or vertical living arrangements. More so than anything else, it’s about living a lifestyle centered around family relationship, a good quality of life, and being in a location that’s great for doing business.

Bottom line, the mid-city co-living space is named “Siri House” for obvious reasons. To do business, you need Siri. It’s a word meaning prosperity and the quality conducive to success. You get the idea.

Co-living space

Co-living space


Architect: IDIN Architects Co.,Ltd. (www.idinarchitects.com)


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