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QAH: A Gable Front Townhouse Strikes a Balance between Work and Life

QAH: A Gable Front Townhouse Strikes a Balance between Work and Life

A gable front townhouse with a high-pitched roof stands out from the rest in a peaceful neighborhood of Phan Rang-Thap Cham, a coastal city in Ninh Thuan Province about four hours’ ride from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The limited amount of space notwithstanding, the indoor environment is surprisingly comfortable thanks to a small inner courtyard designed for improved natural light and ventilation.

/ Ninh Thuan, Vietnam /

/ Story: Kangsadan K. / English version: Bob Pitawkong /

/ Photographs: Paul Phan /

Using wood adds visual interest to the indoor environment, improves acoustics and balances out the coarseness of concrete surfaces.

Named “QAH”, the three-story terraced house offering 220 square meters of living space is the brainchild of Q&A Architects, an architectural practice based in Phan Rang-Thap Cham. As to be expected in a dense urban environment, the company was tasked with creating a townhouse that would strike the right balance between work and the fast pace of city life.

townhouse
A detailed diagram shows all three levels of the house plan. As a whole, 30 percent of the total space is dedicated to open areas filled with lush greenery. / Courtesy of Q&A Architects

After examining the nature of the site and exploring public realm (a shared space in the community), the design team came up with a three-story townhouse plan with roughly 30 percent of total living and functional spaces dedicated to open areas front and back for relaxation. Plus, there’s a small interior yard under the stairs brightened up by an array of skylights built into the rooftop.

The indoor environment feels invitingly comfortable, thanks to a greenery-filled yard enclosed within the building.

That’s not all. Everywhere, smart home functions blend perfectly into convenient interior design hiding in simplicity. Take for example the terrace leading to the front door that’s covered in stone pavers and adorned with greenery thriving under tree cover. To create charm, good looks, the walls are built of wood painted an earthy dark brown that balances out the coarseness of nearby concrete surfaces.

Walk in the door, and you come into the entrance hall connected to a neat and clean dining room and kitchenette. Close at hand, the small inner courtyard lies illuminated by skylights directly above. And beyond, a quiet, secluded office nook hides in plain sight at the farthest end of the room.

Using wood adds visual interest to the indoor environment, improves acoustics and balances out the coarseness of concrete surfaces.
A bright interior courtyard under the stairs separates an office nook at the rear from the dining room and kitchenette up front.

In a nutshell, it’s thoughtfully devised to let nature permeate, yet it fits in well with the homeowner’s needs and circumstances. Among the features that create work-life balance in the home, the stairwell at the midpoint of the house plan eliminates the need for mechanical ventilation and artificial light during daytime hours.

A flight of stairs built flush with the adjoining walls separates an office nook at the back from the dining room up front.

The principal bedroom on the second floor is cozy and spacious, thanks to the vaulted ceiling that follows the pitch of the roof. The ceiling and the walls are painted a cool-toned cream, while a sofa set in dark brown and bedding in muted green accent the background colors in the room. Up front, large windows open to admit natural daylight and fresh outdoor air stream into the interior, a perfect combination of colors and textures by any standards.

The principal bedroom on the second floor feel relaxed, thanks to a sofa set in earthy brown and well-positioned large windows affording a view of the cityscape.

The stairway leading to the third floor is brightened up by skylights casting shadows and colors on rough sandy textures on the walls. Together they work in tandem turning the home into a comfortable living space despite space constraints and a narrow frontage abutting the street.

A skylight system built into the rooftop lights up the stairway and a courtyard directly below.

As one would reasonably expect, the third floor holds an ancestral shrine symbolic of Vietnamese folk religion. It’s a mezzanine with an uninterrupted view of the entire interior. Carefully thought out, the courtyard directly below can be seen in full view from here.

A system of skylights built into the rooftop brightens up the spacious, well-ventilated stairwell, a clever hack to create calm and peaceful interiors.

At the very heart of design thinking, the gable front townhouse named “QAH” is made for easy, simple living, and in the fewest possible words, a house plan that strikes the right balance between work and life in the city.

A bird’s eye view of the gable front townhouse in relation to other homes in the neighborhood.

townhouse


Architects: Q&A Architects (https://www.facebook.com/qaarchitects247/)


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Phu Yen House: A Single-Story Home Snug in the Warmth of Rural Vietnam

Phu Yen House: A Single-Story Home Snug in the Warmth of Rural Vietnam

/ Phu Yen, Viet Nam /

/ Story: Phattaraphon / English version: Bob Pitawkong /

/ Photographs: Minq Bui /

Can’t wait to escape all the noise and pollution? Here’s Phu Yen House a one-story home amid lush landscapes way out in the country. It’s made comfortable by light and breezy inner courtyards with a plunge pool. Plus, ultraclean white walls give peace of mind knowing family privacy is protected.

Phu Yen House Vietnam
Immaculate white exteriors protect the single-story home from high winds, providing a safe and cozy family getaway in Vietnam’s countryside.

The house is in Phu Yen, a south-central province at the midpoint between Ho Chi Minh City and the Da Nang/Hue Region on the South China Sea. It’s the holiday getaway of a family who has lived and worked a long time in the city. Inspired by simple living, they discover the countryside has never lost its allure. And Phu Yen comes in as a handy location to reconnect with the great outdoors.

Phu Yen House Vietnam
Walk in the door, and you find a spacious courtyard under skylights, adorned with lush foliage on one side and exotics thriving in containers on the other.
The ground floor plan illustrates the feel and functionality of different areas in relation to landscapes in the front yard and at the rear. / Courtesy of Story Architecture

Named “Phu Yen House”, it’s a secluded family retreat during summer and public holidays in Vietnam. For the little children, the single-story home is a pleasant and fun place in which to grow, learn and play, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Curved symmetrical openings in the wall give access to a communal room without glass partition doors designed for good ventilation.
Phu Yen House Vietnam
Curved symmetrical openings in the walls give a sense of connectedness of all things in the house plan.
Phu Yen House Vietnam
The quiet, secluded wing holding bedrooms (left) is separated from the communal space (right) by a sheltered patio connected to the courtyard and, beyond, the front door at the farthest end.

The white house among the trees is the brainchild of Story Architecture, a design atelier based in Ho Chi Minh City. Its immaculate white walls are built high for a good reason – provide safety and protection from prying eyes. From a distance, accents of green on the front door prove an interesting complement to the perfectly neat and clean walls.

Phu Yen House Vietnam
An altar at the center of the communal space provides a means to spiritually connect with family ancestors.

Phu Yen House Vietnam

Phu Yen House Vietnam
A small sitting nook at the far end creates a relaxing atmosphere by the plunge pool.
Phu Yen House Vietnam
Everything the children need for a fun day at the pool.

Step inside. It’s a wow! The inner courtyard enclosed by the walls is spacious. There are no glass partition doors or solid structures dividing the interiors into smaller rooms.

Lush houseplants develop vigorously on one side, while exotics thrive in containers on the other. In the in-between space, a sheltered communal area with distinctive green accents lies, separating the courtyard from a nearby plunge pool made for kids.

Flanked by the patio and the plunge pool, an area behind the altar offers plenty of ample space for a dining room and kitchen.

Phu Yen House Vietnam

Phu Yen House Vietnam

For peace and quiet, the bedrooms, living room, kitchen and dining room are situated at the farthest ends. Everywhere, curved symmetrical structures span openings in the walls. They form readily distinguishable areas characterized by a plain and uncluttered appearance, making the home safe for children.

A sheltered patio provides access to the quiet, private wing containing bedrooms.

Phu Yen House Vietnam
Completely shut out from the outside world, the bedroom with an oversized bed opens to a small personal courtyard.
A young tree provides shade to the small courtyard covered in stone pavers.

More than anything else, it’s a home built on a budget, which is evidenced by the use of simple building supplies sourced directly from within the community. Plus, the house plan is uncomplicated, easy to keep clean and tidy. It’s without doubt a dream home safe and snug in the warmth of Vietnam’s countryside.

Phu Yen House Vietnam


Architects: Story Architecture (www.facebook.com/storyarchitecture.vn)

Lead Architects: Nguyễn Kava

Designer Team: Huỳnh Cẩm Tú, Vũ Thu Trang, Trịnh Quang Huy, Trần Nguyễn and Thúy Trinh


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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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CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee: A Coffee Shop in Earth-Toned Green Where the Classic Meets the Modern

CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee: A Coffee Shop in Earth-Toned Green Where the Classic Meets the Modern

/ Ninh Thuan, Vietnam /

/ Story: Phattaraphon / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Nguyen Duy Hoach /

Fresh brewed coffee smells like heaven, or so they say. And if you have a chance to swing by the beautiful central coast of Vietnam, get yourself a good strong cuppa at CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee located at Phan Rang-Thap Cham in Ninh Thuan Province. Find pleasure in the timeless atmosphere where the classic meets the modern. Here, lush green color paired with earth-toned brown turns a cute coffeehouse into a Shangri-La making every day a perfect day.

CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee
Seen from across the street, the coffeehouse façade features a beautiful mix of classic and modern architectural styles.

From architectural perspectives, it’s about creating a design that embraces the beauty of works of art that have become classics and, at the same time, make use of modern materials that are right for prevailing weather conditions on the ocean front.

The front façade is built of glass bricks, a classic material designed to admit light, turning the coffeehouse into a well-lighted place.

The Tropics is warm all year as we know it, and the city of Phan Rang-Thap Cham is no stranger to intense sunlight and strong winds. For this reason, the storefront has to be made impervious to storm water.

Plus, it must be capable of keeping the heat out and, at the same time, letting natural light in. Rising to the challenge, the architects at PT Arch Studio chose glass bricks for the façade, and it works perfectly.

Aa axonometric projection shows interior space arrangements with a rooftop layout in relation to two glass dome skylights over the stairwell and seating areas. / Courtesy of PT Arch Studio

 

 

Downstairs floor plan with the terrace storefront. / Courtesy of PT Arch Studio
Upstairs floor plan. / Courtesy of PT Arch Studio

 

In cross section, a diagrammatic representation shows the side elevation and space arrangements in relation to the glass dome skylight at the midpoint. / Courtesy of PT Arch Studio

The coffeehouse features large lounges typical of classic restaurant interior design. To make customers feel comfortable, the seating areas and coffee nooks are arranged in neat, attractive order.

Both downstairs and upstairs rooms are well-lit and well-ventilated, thanks to a stack ventilation system that uses temperature differences to move air. The rooftop has two glass dome skylights that allow natural light streaming inside and double as engine driving cross ventilation forcing warm and stale air to exit through the rooftop.

CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee
A set of stairs enclosed by glass brick walls gives access to the second floor. Along the outer circumference, round benches with coffee trays come in handy when the house is full and no seats available. Good thinking!
CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee
Lit up by a rooftop skylight, the spiral stairs enclosed by glass brick walls provide access to seating areas on the second floor.

As is the case with business buildings across Vietnam, CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee is situated on an elongated rectangle with a narrow frontage abutting on the street. Originally, it was a design lacking fresh air and ventilation, an unpleasant situation that had to be dealt with from the start.

The team of architects at PT Arch Studio solved the problem by integrating natural elements into the plan as much as possible. And glass bricks came in handy to avoid the interior becoming a stuffy, overcrowded space. Overhead, a pair of rooftop skylights let natural light shine into both downstairs and upstairs.

CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee
An open concept floor plan makes the interior space feel spacious, airy and comfortable.

CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee

A tree thrives under the glass dome skylight illuminating the interior in muted green hues and earth-toned brown.

Precisely, it’s a layout that effectively harnesses the feel-good benefits of nature to make the business space feel comfortable, warm and welcoming. Where necessary, glass mirrors are added to give the impression of ample space in the interior.

CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee

A glass dome skylight illuminates the stairwell connecting the first and second floors.

In terms of building performance, walk in the door and you find a beautiful, large coffee bar illuminated by natural light streaming in from above. At the midpoint, a spiral staircase enclosed by glass brick walls provides access to seating areas on the second floor.

Small bench seats with coffee trays along the outside of the circular wall add visual interest to interior design. They serve a useful purpose as extra seating when the house is full and no seats available. Every step of the way, signature interior furnishings in cool-toned earthy green and brown promote positive thinking and peace of mind.

CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee
A glass brick enclosure holds the spiral staircase illuminated by a rooftop skylight. Nearby, a large mirror on the wall creates a sense of space.
CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee
Upstairs seating arrangements showcase the signature cool green hues mixed with earth-toned brown.

Two glass dome skylights illuminate the stairwell and seating areas in cool green and earth-toned brown.

CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee

CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee

Taken as a whole, the interior is spacious and neatly arranged. The stuffiness of the unusually long and narrow space is nicely compensated for by well-thought-out design, building strategies and creative use of modern materials.

And the result of all this? CoCo Cha Taiwan Tea & Coffee capable of fulfilling a role for which it is intended – a place that’s convenient, neat and clean plus coffee smells like fresh brewed heaven. And, the price is right, too. Looking for a good strong cuppa? Well, you get the idea.


Architect: PT Arch Studio (www.ptarchstudio.com)

Lead Architects: Nguyen Van, Phuoc Thinh


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The Hiên House: Creative Design Takes Balconies and Terraces to the Next Level

The Hiên House: Creative Design Takes Balconies and Terraces to the Next Level

/ Da Nang, Vietnam /

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

/ Photographs: Quang Dam /

Here’s a Tropical-style home located 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 hybrid timber and concrete home is appropriately named “The Hiên House” for its lively green façades, Hiên being Vietnamese for semi-outdoor room along the outside of the building. Overall, it’s a design that comes from thinking outside the box to create a relaxing space in the open air.

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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Nha Be House: A Brick Home Infused with Memories of the Good Old Days

Nha Be House: A Brick Home Infused with Memories of the Good Old Days

/ Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam /

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

/ Photographs: Hiroyuki Oki /

Here’s a beautiful good-sized home with exposed brick walls in subdued orange. It sits peacefully nestled among lush greenery in Nha Be, a suburban district of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. By design, it’s the perfect home size for four sisters who recently decided to come home to care for their aging Mom. A nice place for their family reunion, the brick home is filled with real warmth and memories growing up together back in the day.

Brick Home NHA BE HOUSE


Connecting Home and Garden

Designed to fit a long piece of property, the rectangular house plan holds five bedrooms plus a roomy communal space that’s the heart of family life. The architect puts the face of the building closer to the road which passes in front of the house leaving just enough room for a small front yard.

Like so, it allows a huge space for the backyard garden devoted to trees and shrubs and an outdoor sitting room.

Brick Home NHA BE HOUSE

Inside, the spacious room shared by all family members lies front and center on the house plan. To bring fresh air into the home, all the rooms are connected to the outdoor spaces in front and back of the building.

Brick Home NHA BE HOUSE
The front yard holds a small garden that’s an important factor in curb appeal. The interior is comfortable thanks to double-wall construction. The perforated outer shell performs a dual function protecting the house from heat and glare and serving as privacy screens.

Overall, it’s a design that lets the earthy, woody scents of nature permeate the air. Up front, healthy green foliage transforms the communal area into a calm, pleasant place enlivened by plenty of natural light streaming in through generous openings in the walls.

Brick Home NHA BE HOUSE
Open-concept design and floating furniture ideas make the communal room feel spacious, light and airy.
NHA BE HOUSE
An opening at the center of the house plan connects the first floor with the second, resulting in good visual and spatial continuity. The absence of risers between the treads of the staircase makes the room feel spacious and well-ventilated.

On one side of the floor plan, a flight of stairs connects to the second floor and continues to the room just below the roof that acts as a buffer against the sun and heat. The absence of vertical risers between the treads of the staircase creates visual and spatial continuity, plus good air flow in the interior.

Overhead, a shaft of sunlight streams through the rooftop skylight making the home feel bright and airy all day.

NHA BE HOUSE
A semi-circle skylight lets sunlight shine through turning the home into a well-lighted place.

Brick the Material of Choice

The two-and-a-half-story brick home, including the room under the roof, is built almost entirely of bricks for the best indoor climate. Needless to say it’s designed for healthy living.

The first floor is a perfect example of communal space with plenty of room for a generous sitting area, dining room and kitchen. It speaks volumes for a culture of caring and sharing that’s the essence of humanity.

Brick Home NHA BE HOUSE
A patch of lush greenery in the front yard makes the sitting room feel warm and invitingly comfortable.

NHA BE HOUSE

For practical reason, Mom’s open-concept bedroom is on the first floor. It’s protected from the sun’s harmful rays by perforated brick walls that form the outer shell. The inside is clear of anything that might be a tripping hazard.

NHA BE HOUSE
The perforated brick wall forms the outer shell protecting Mom’s open-concept bedroom.

Brick Home NHA BE HOUSE

Meanwhile, the four sisters each have their own bedrooms on the second floor. They are equal-sized rooms connected by a balcony overlooking the communal space on the first floor. At the very top, the space under the roof becomes a devotional room for traditional veneration of the family’s ancestors. It has a quiet sitting area with a view of the surrounding landscape.

NHA BE HOUSE
The bedrooms on the second floor are plain and simple. Windows on the interior walls bring back that peaceful easy feeling.
NHA BE HOUSE
The top floor under the roof contains a devotional room for the veneration of family ancestors

Taken as a whole, the natural environment is pristine thanks to an irrigation canal that runs past the back of the property. Both sides of the waterway are covered in greenery growing luxuriantly in the wild. It’s easy to get why the architect puts in a backyard garden here, a clever hack that blends perfectly into the lush landscape.

Brick Home NHA BE HOUSE

The house is built strong using concrete frame and concrete floor slab construction, while the external envelop is made of bricks in assorted orange hues fired the old-fashioned way. Perforated brick facades enable interior spaces to benefit from natural daylight. Gaps between bricks in the house’s exterior walls admit light and fresh outdoor air into the home.

A material of choice, the vintage style bricks can absorb humidity from the nearby water body, which translates into interior thermal comfort all year round. Plus, they effectively filter out dust and pollution in the air.

The siting of the house in relation to others in the community. — Courtesy of Tropical Space

Apart from protecting against heat and glare, brick walls add a touch of timeless elegance to the home. Perforated facades double as privacy screens that prevent people from looking in and keep the home cool without air conditioning.

The light that shines through is more diffuse, while holes in the brick walls act as engine that drives natural ventilation. Plus, brick walls require little to no maintenance, and they look like new after many years later.

First Floor Plan — Courtesy of Tropical Space
Second Floor Plan — Courtesy of Tropical Space
Attic Floor Plan — Courtesy of Tropical Space
In cross section, a side elevation drawing shows the feel and functionality of the house plan. — Courtesy of Tropical Space

Backyard Garden Made for Relaxation

One of the house’s outstanding features is the backyard garden with an outdoor circular bench capable of seating several people. Built of bricks in subdued shades of orange, it’s the family’s favorite meeting place in the morning and evening.

Because it’s round, it creates more space for family members to come together face-to-face, talk together, walk together strengthening the bonds of sisterhood and relationships made in heaven.

NHA BE HOUSE
An outdoor circular bench made of bricks in assorted orange hues adorns the backyard garden designed for face-to-face family gatherings in the morning and evening.

Brick Home NHA BE HOUSE

Brick Home NHA BE HOUSE
An aerial view shows the brick house in subdued shades of orange nestled among lush greenery with a tree lined irrigation canal in the backdrop, a healthy ecosystem that helps cool the environment.

Architect: Tropical Space (tropicalspaceil.com)


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7 Skylight Design Ideas for Homes

7 Skylight Design Ideas for Homes

/ Story: Samutcha Viraporn / Photograph: Living ASEAN Press Room /

The main benefit of having a skylight is all the natural light you get from it. Nobody likes being holed up in a dark or dimly lit home, especially at night. Well thought-out skylight designs provide your home with extra ventilation and minimize heating, cooling, and lighting costs. Here are some great ideas for energy efficient skylight designs that might interest you.

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Enchanting Window Design Options
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A Home with Unique Rooftop Design in Singapore

A Home with Unique Rooftop Design in Singapore

/ Singapore /

/ Story: Ronnapa Nit / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Sitthisak Namkham /

In Singapore, people look for creative ways to make the most of limited space, and that includes the rooftop design. A multiple-floor renovation by Formwerkz Architects clearly illustrates this. The Singapore-based architectural practice has succeeded in creating a unique living space on the rooftop tailored specifically to the homeowner’s lifestyle needs.

rooftop design
The rooftop deck is a vista point to capture amazing panoramic views.

From a distance, the place looks similar to other two-story homes in the neighborhood, except for the rooftop deck. The platform-like structure is unlike anything else, yet it fits right in the modern context that forms the setting of the area.

[Left] An open kitchenette connects with the dining room making the area look neat and uncluttered, while a warm shade of brown and burgundy on the wall contrasts with modern furniture. / [Right] A U-shaped sectional sofa is set against the wall to maximize space.
[Left] An open kitchenette connects with the dining room making the area look neat and uncluttered, while a warm shade of brown and burgundy on the wall contrasts with modern furniture. / [Right] A U-shaped sectional sofa is set against the wall to maximize space.

The designing process started out with the living room, dining room and kitchen before moving on to the upper floors that hold a sitting room, multipurpose area, bedrooms and a rooftop deck. It represents a line of thought that ensures all areas are easily accessed and connected.

The overall effect is very light and airy, thanks to natural light shining through a rooftop skylight and fixed windows in the sidewall.

Fundamentally, it’s about harnessing the power of nature to create good living conditions. This is evident in well-thought-out design that ensures no electric light is ever needed during the daytime, translating into big savings plus excellent indoor thermal comfort.

Earth-tone color adds a touch of warmth to the living room on the second floor.
Earth-tone color adds a touch of warmth to the living room on the second floor.

Strictly speaking, the interior living space is an interesting amalgam of modern architecture and graphic design innovations. This is especially true of the living room, where Art Deco style meets modern materials, such as mosaic tiles, terrazzo walls, glass panels on wood, and metal frames.

[Left] A nook beside the wall offers seclusion in the son’s bedroom. Louvered windows with wood slats alternating with glass panels are used to aid air circulation. [Right] The front facade bedecked with a vertical garden provides natural sunscreens protecting the master bedroom.
[Left] A nook beside the wall offers seclusion in the son’s bedroom. Louvered windows with wood slats alternating with glass panels are used to aid air circulation. / [Right] The front facade bedecked with a vertical garden provides natural sunscreens protecting the master bedroom.
The stairwell connecting to the lower floor is illuminated by a rooftop skylight.
The stairwell connecting to the lower floor is illuminated by a rooftop skylight.
[Left] A bright and airy bathroom at the far end is visible from the stairway leading to the top deck. [Right] The bathroom in white comes with a wall-mounted countertop. The mirror with a rounded corner paired with soft pink recessed lighting creates a sense of spaciousness.
[Left] A bright and airy bathroom at the far end is visible from the stairway leading to the top deck. / [Right] The bathroom in white comes with a wall-mounted countertop. The mirror with a rounded corner paired with soft pink recessed lighting creates a sense of spaciousness.
rooftop design
A ramp and a staircase provides access to the rooftop deck.

Among other things, the most eye-catching feature is the rooftop design that extends from the penthouse roof resembling a continuation of the indoor living space. The al fresco area is a perfect place to relax and unwind on a lazy afternoon, or to host an outdoor party.

From a distance, the newly remodeled house is thoughtfully devised to blend with the surroundings. It’s a way that forms a pleasing whole, where traditional and modern values peacefully coexist in this residential neighborhood of Singapore.

rooftop design
A skylight beside the rooftop deck allows plenty of sunshine to reach all the way to the lower floor.
The house’s four levels lie hidden from view, while its front facade fits right in with two-story homes in the neighborhood.
The house’s four levels lie hidden from view, while its front facade fits right in with two-story homes in the neighborhood.

Owner: Dr Kelvin Lee

Architect: Formwerkz Architects (formwerkz.com)


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