Nhà Voi 7 Gardens House: Small Size Not an Obstacle to Decorating with Greenery

Nhà Voi 7 Gardens House: Small Size Not an Obstacle to Decorating with Greenery

/ Can Tho, Vietnam/

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

/ Photographs: MinQBui /

This narrow lot house is located in Can Tho, a modern city in the South of Vietnam. It lies on the south bank of the Hau River, one of several estuaries through which the Mekong River empties into the South China Sea. Like any busy city, it’s no stranger to incessant activity and overcrowded streets. That’s a practical difficulty for the design team at Da Vang Studio, a homegrown architectural practice based in Ho Chi Minh City. And they rise to the challenge by integrating as much green foliage as possible in the house plan. The result is impressive. The gardens house with a narrow frontage to the street transforms into an oasis of calm, one that offers plenty of comfortable living spaces in close touch with nature.

gardens house
The solid external envelope keeps the house interior safe and secure.

The elongated house plan occupies the full extent of the land that measures 4.5 meters wide and a whopping 23 meters long. As may be expected, the external envelope of the house also doubles as the perimeter of the garden.

The exterior walls are built tall and unable to be seen through for privacy reasons. Yet, the design team has found a way to provide physical ease and relaxation. They called their design approach “Fitting”, meaning everything has to be kept in proportion, nothing more or nothing less than what’s necessary.

Albeit small, it’s a light and airy, well-thought-out house plan.

The Floor Plans of Nhà Voi 7 Gardens House courtesy of DA VÀNG Studio.
In cross section, the elongated house plan illustrates linear arrangements of rooms, functionality, and greenery spaces. Correct building orientation paired with solid exterior walls protects the home from the sun’s harmful rays. Picture by Courtesy of DA VÀNG Studio.
Nhà Voi 7 Gardens House
Healthy green foliage lining the walls and the face of the building keeps the front yard light and breezy.

Nhà Voi 7 Gardens House
The kitchen and dining room combo lies at the front of the house plan illuminated by a full array of rooftop skylights.

The two-story house on a narrow lot offers plenty of usable spaces arranged in order of priority. Go in the front door, and you come into the hallway that connects to a dining room and kitchen.

The living room is halfway down the passage with a flight of stairs set against the wall leading to the second floor that holds two bedrooms.

The light and airy living room lies halfway down the passage decorated with small patches of greenery.
Adding visual interest to design, arched structures separate the living room from the stairway connecting to the second floor.

The quiet, more secluded master bedroom lies at the very end of the first floor that opens to a small sun-kissed courtyard. It’s protected by a lattice patio cover that lets the sun shine through and drives natural air circulation.

The light and airy master bedroom on the first floor opens to a small backyard garden.
The master bedroom has a view of the bright and breezy backyard that lies protected by a lattice patio cover.

Gardens House

Calming color and texture add a relaxing effect to one of the bedrooms on the second-floor.
The glass-brick wall admits natural daylight into the second-floor bathroom decorated with plants.

What makes this tiny house unique is the fact that all the indoor and outdoor rooms are enclosed behind solid walls. The feeling of being boxed in is nicely compensated by small interior courtyards and patches of greenery designed for comfort and relaxation.

Of the seven green spaces incorporated in the house plan, the front yard and the backyard are the biggest and the greenest. Adding a touch of nature to the interior, low-light and easy houseplants are positioned at intervals along the walls. Even the bathrooms have small patches of greenery that’s easy on the eyes.

Although small in size, this gardens house comes complete with comfortable living spaces and modern conveniences for healthy living.

Architect: DA VÀNG studio (

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Distracted House: Unique Roof Style Merges Javanese Tradition with Urban Modern Living

Distracted House: Unique Roof Style Merges Javanese Tradition with Urban Modern Living

/ Jakarta, Indonesia /

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

/ Photographs: Andhy Prayitno, of Mario Wibowo Photography ( /

Nestled on the outskirts of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, an urban modern home aptly named “Distracted House” looks completely different from everything else. The densely populated neighborhood shares a common characteristic. It’s chock-full of one- and two-story homes closely packed in a way that it feels uncomfortable. To deflect attention away from the humdrum existence of a crowded space, a team of talented engineers at Ismail Solehudin Architecture came up with a clever idea for a craftsman-style home unlike anything else.

Distracted House

Distracted House

The result is a work of outstanding artistry made clearly noticeable by irregular polygons with unequal sides and unequal angles. But what makes Distracted House even more interesting lies in its irresistible power of storytelling.

Beautifully done, it looks the epitome of Javanese culture designed to showcase the ways of life, religious beliefs and traditional vernacular style unique to the Indonesian archipelago.

That’s what gives this home its timeless appeal that blends perfectly with the surrounding landscape.

Distracted House

Distracted House

The two-story, 420-square-meter building is home to an extended family with seven resident members on a normal day. On special occasions and holidays the number can increase to more than 10. That’s precisely a challenge that the architects had to overcome by creating enough usable spaces and functions to satisfy demands.

To fit in with the existing built environment, the only way to go was up. The architects relied on two building methods to solve the problem.

First, the roof was raised slightly higher than normal to create enough room for a mezzanine on the second floor, thereby giving the house extra living spaces, plus well thought out details make the interior feel warm and welcoming. This was achieved in a way that’s compatible with the mostly two-story homes neighborhood.

The second method involved putting in a courtyard with swimming pool at the rear, plus adding plants and greenery inside the home.

The pool that’s the focal point of the courtyard can be seen in full view from inside the dining room and sitting room. To bring the outdoors into the home, small rock gardens with lovely low-maintenance plants are integrated in the design, while skylights set into the roofline keep the interior well-lit during daytime hours.

Distracted House

Overall, the interior living spaces are invitingly comfortable thanks to a well-designed stairwell that opens to admit fresh outdoor air into the room.

Despite the limitations, attention to detail makes the home a special place to be and prevents it from becoming a stuffy, overcrowded space.

Distracted House

Apart from a bright and airy atmosphere, it’s the house’s outer appearance that’s getting the most attention. Plus, family traditions, lifestyle and religious beliefs play a part in determining the location of, and interaction between functional spaces in the home.

This is manifested in building orientation, by which the new home design axis is aligned with Qibla, or the direction towards the Kaaba (the stone building at the center of Islam’s holiest site in Mecca). Hence the Musalla, or room set aside for prayer in Islam, is located at the farthest end in this direction.

A place to quietly reflect inward and connect with Allah, it’s also used for religious ceremonies in the family.

Distracted House

Conceptual Diagram Courtesy of Ismail Solehudin Architecture
House Orientation Concept Courtesy of Ismail Solehudin Architecture
First Floor Plan House Courtesy of Ismail Solehudin Architecture
Second Floor Plan House Courtesy of Ismail Solehudin Architecture
Rooftop Plan House Courtesy of Ismail Solehudin Architecture

Like so, the main communal space of Distracted House is set oblique in relation to the rectangular yard landscape, an unusual layout that sets it apart from the rest. To synchronize modern living with traditional Javanese style and taste, the team of architects added Joglo house architecture to the design.

The term Joglo refers to a steep pitch roof at the center that was associated with Javanese aristocrats in olden times. The center of the floor plan is filled with smaller rooms and functional spaces, creating a conducive environment for a harmonious family life.

Meantime, areas on the periphery are roofed over to keep them in shade.

Distracted House

Distracted House

Overall, the building envelope is made of wood and concrete masonry construction painted white. Where appropriate, air bricks are used as part of the house’s ventilation system.

Except for its unusual shape, the entire roof is covered in terra cotta tiles in a dark shade of orange that’s consistent with other houses in the neighborhood.

Distracted House

Distracted House

In summary, it’s a well-thought-out design that speaks volumes for lifestyle, a strict adherence to religion, and cultural heritage passed down through generations of a family.

A new home made with skill, creativity and imagination, it’s a look that conveys a great deal about the residents through interior and exterior design.

Who would have thought that a home with absolutely unique physical features would ease into beautiful suburban vibes? Interesting, to say the least.

Distracted House

Architects: Ismail Solehudin Architecture (
Lead Architect: Ismail Solehudin
Design team: Radhian Dwiadhyasa
Building contractor: Wani Build
Structural Engineer: Pt. Desain putra persada (new building) Andi Dzikril (building structure)

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Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

/ Story: Sarayut / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Ritthirong /

Let’s say you’re looking for a modern courtyard house plan to get inspired. Here’s one nestled in the heart of Bangkok’s downtown that’s built to accommodate three generations living in one household. Thoughtfully designed, it’s capable of answering the family’s lifestyle needs, plus it’s easy to maintain thanks to an uncomplicated layout. What looks opaque from the outside is compensated by a bright and airy center courtyard that’s the heart of family life. Its story is inscribed as part of the building’s decorative features.

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family Urban Courtyard House for an Extended FamilyWhen a design team from the Atelier of Architects Co., Ltd. was tasked with creating a new home for eight people including not just parents and their children, but also grandparents, the first things they thought of were safety features, comfortable living spaces, privacy protection, and a peaceful environment for all family members. Yes. That’s exactly what they had in mind.

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

The two-story, six-bedroom house plan may seem a bit crowded for 130 square wa of land (520 sq. m.), but the overall effect is delightful. It’s neatly planned to ensure the proper space utilization; every available space is used in an effective way.

Homeowner Salyawate Prasertwitayakarn, himself an architect, put it this way:

“If the house was positioned at the center as is usually the case, then there wouldn’t be any room left for a yard, let alone a small piece of ground for trees.

“The house is adjacent to vacant lots that will see large construction projects coming up before long. So the only way forward is to build a U-shaped courtyard home enclosed by the solid external envelope. The center courtyard has a view of the apartment building that’s the family’s business.

“Although the courtyard lies facing west, it’s protected from the sun and heat by the adjacent five-story apartment building. The result is a cool, small outdoor room for little children to run and play.

“To protect family privacy, vertical concrete fins and a full array of plantation blinds are installed along the façade facing the apartment building.”

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family Urban Courtyard House for an Extended FamilyUrban Courtyard House for an Extended Family Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

Taken as a whole, it’s simple clean design that gives this new courtyard house its character.

Among other things, its distinctive features include an array of transom windows that add more natural light to the home. Its modern and fresh interior with shades of gray bespeaks a clean, clear and uncluttered layout, while exposed brick walls add timeless elegance to the peaceful ambience.

The patio adjoining the house is covered in gray pea gravel that’s comfortable underfoot and easy to maintain. It’s a simple hardscaping material that expresses rich and subtle meanings. On this matter, Salyawate explained:

“I want to get the message across, something that internalizes values and what’s important in life for everyone in the family.

“The meaning of life is expressed through the work of art executed directly on the brick wall by the entryway. It takes the form of the Thai letter “p” that’s the initial of the family’s three sons — Pahda, Pheem, and Pinyada.

“Precisely, it’s a reminder that this place is made for them.”

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

To get people from one floor to the next, a spiral staircase stands surrounded by creative bookshelf design. It’s one of the most frequented area of the house where a bronze plaque is fixed to the floor as a reminder of when the house was built and completed.

The outlines of the couple’s hands and those of their children are inscribed on it. Small hand images indicate the family moved in when the kids were little.

Visiting house guests can tell right away the home is perfectly cozy without elaborate décor. But for the eight people who live here, it’s a special place made for living a simple life, one full of rest and room to pursue their dreams.

Architect: The Atelier of Architects Co., Ltd by Salyawate Prasertwitayakarn
Owner: Salyawate, Piyasuda Prasertwitayakarn

Modern Concrete Home with a Bright Interior Courtyard

Modern Concrete Home with a Bright Interior Courtyard

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

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

/ Photographs: Sungwan Phratep / Styling: Boonyawee Boonnak /

Albeit rather small in terms of land area, a pleasingly graceful concrete home feels spacious and airy thanks to a warm and welcoming interior courtyard.

concrete house courtyard

Architect Intanon Chantip can still recall the day he was building this house for the most amazing person in the world — his mom. He insisted on making a nice, little center courtyard an integral part of the home plan.

“My idea is that no one wants to live alone,” he explained. “A courtyard comes in handy to help people reconnect with nature. A green space can turn an ordinary home into a vibrant dwelling place, plus it’s a friendly environment attracting birds and bees, cats and other animals.”

concrete house courtyard


concrete house courtyard

After his mother passed, the house was inherited to his brother, who had never been fond of a courtyard idea. Initially he wanted to put in a roof to shelter it from storm water runoffs.

But after having lived in it for a while, he had a change of heart. Like a blessing in disguise, the center yard over time transformed into a little Tropical paradise enabling him to live a refocused life embraced by nature.

In cross section, a charcoal sketch shows the house’s side elevation in relation to a small center courtyard.

concrete house courtyard

concrete house courtyard

The house’s interior boasts double high ceilings with a beautifully crafted spiral staircase on one side of the room. There are elements of unmistakable elegance manifested in the design that makes the hallway cozy and inviting.

The lush center courtyard can be seen in full view from both downstairs and the upstairs balcony.


Lush green vegetation turns the little courtyard into another day in paradise.
Lush green vegetation turns the little courtyard into another day in paradise.

It’s amazing how a once unpopular idea transformed into the heart and soul of a family. Here, it sends a strong message that nature is so important in our very existence. A small center courtyard with thriving Tropical plants could very well be the first thing on your to-do list next time you plan to update your home. Unmistakably good design!


Architect: Intanon Chantip of INchan Atelier (

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