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The Red Roof: A Suburban Home Enlivened by Rooftop Terraced Gardens and Old Ways of Life

The Red Roof: A Suburban Home Enlivened by Rooftop Terraced Gardens and Old Ways of Life

/ Quang Ngai, Vietnam /

/ Story: Ektida N. / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Courtesy of TAA Design /

Named “The Red Roof” for its external envelope and roof deck covered with tiles in a goldish-red tone, a row house-style suburban home acts as a focal point for life on a suburban housing development in Quang Ngai, the capital and namesake of a central Vietnam province.

the red roof Suburban Home vietnam
The house façade under a rooftop terraced garden shows a modest appearance that blends with nearby homes in the neighborhood.

As might be expected, urbanization and land use change has brought a new, refreshing experience to suburban architecture and its surroundings. Quang Ngai is no exception. Over the past several years, modern homes and new lifestyles have expanded into the outskirts of the city.

Inevitably some details are already impacting the old way of life in a profound way. Among others, the once familiar sight of locals growing vegetables in the fields is gradually diminishing.

the red roof Suburban Home vietnam

Content in the existing circumstances, a couple in their mid-50s are resolved not to change, preferring to live life the old-fashioned way. They were born and raised here, after all. And that’s exactly where a capable team of architects at TAA Design came in to produce desired outcome.

The result is a suburban home that’s neither too big nor too small offering 190 square meters of usable space, one with the power of storytelling about their youthful exuberance having grown up in the area.

A charcoal sketch shows the house’s location in the context of surrounding suburbia. / Courtesy of TAA Design
In cross section, a perspective drawing shows the layout of the rooftop terraced garden in relation to the center courtyard and other areas of the house plan. / Courtesy of TAA Design



Seen from a distance, the house façade rises flanked by neighboring homes that are part of a continuous row in a uniform way.

There’s a narrow street on one side typical of a village in the countryside, which gives the home a favorable position in terms of design. This allows generous openings in the side wall to admit light and fresh outdoor air into the home, resulting in a comfortable indoor environment.

A drawing shows different areas and functions in the house plan. / Courtesy of TAA Design
The drawing shows the mezzanine floor area. / Courtesy of TAA Design
A side elevation drawing shows different areas and functions of the house plan, starting from the water tank at the top to the lowest point abutting on the street in front, a natural way to keep the terraced garden well supplied using water flowing from high to low. / Courtesy of TAA Design

Step inside, and you find multipurpose double space rooms scattered at three different locations. Together they add a sense of space and interaction in the interior, providing physical ease and relaxation all the way to the second floor.

The first room holds sitting areas with a bicycle workshop situated at the front, while the second contains a place for boiling water and cooking meat over an open fire like old times. The third room is an open area located at the rear bordering on the bedroom that opens to reap the full health benefits of a backyard landscape.

the red roof Suburban Home vietnam
The interior appears light and airy thanks to rooftop skylights and generous openings in the exterior walls.

At the front, the bicycle workshop is protected by a folding gate system with wire mesh infills. There are sitting areas located further inside, connected to a kitchen in the middle of the house plan that serves as the center of everyday life in the family. For privacy, the bedroom is situated in a quiet and secluded area at the back.

Overall, the interior emphasizes simple design with floating furniture arrangement intended for easy updates. The floors are paved with tiles in light shades of gray that blend with the color and texture of unfinished concrete walls. To avoid looking too plain, window trims are done in black, which in a way adds a distinctive visual emphasis to the interior.

the red roof Suburban Home vietnam

The second floor holds more bedrooms thoughtfully devised to connect with the outdoors. It performs a dual role, providing skylights that illuminate the living rooms directly below and, at the same time, giving access to rooftop terraces where herb and vegetable gardens are grown.

Terracing is a long-established farming practice that turns sloped ground into farmlands by building raised bands across a surface to contain water for agriculture. In this particular case, the same idea and knowledge of soil and water resource management is applied to the rooftop instead of the usual mountainside.

the red roof Suburban Home vietnam

the red roof Suburban Home vietnam

Despite its simple appearance, the suburban home with a rooftop terraced garden is designed and built by a team of experts, each specialized in a particular branch of science using meticulous calculation to produce the kind of load-bearing structure and foundation that’s right for the purpose. Plus, attention to detail is given to prevent water leaking from containers and pipes in the system.

For the look that’s pleasing to the eye, the same kind of ceramic tiles in earthy red tones of uniform shape and size are used to build both the exterior walls and the rooftop terraces.

the red roof Suburban Home vietnam
Growing herb and vegetable gardens on rooftop terraces provide practical solutions where space is limited, plus it’s a clever adaptation of traditional knowledge to modern lifestyle needs.
the red roof Suburban Home vietnam
An aerial view of the house shows an unroofed center courtyard on the first floor in relation to other areas on the second floor and a terraced garden on the rooftop.

In a nutshell, it’s a beautiful suburban home where second-floor living spaces and third-floor terraced gardens merge seamlessly into one gentle slope descending from the apex of the roof to its lowest point abutting on the street in front. It’s a show of humility and friendly attitude to blend with others in the community. In the end, it’s a blessing to have a good neighbor.

the red roof Suburban Home vietnam

Architect: TAA Design (

Principal Architects: Nguyen Van Thien, Nguyen Huu Hau

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My Montessori Garden: A Green School Advocating an Interest in Nature and the Environment

My Montessori Garden: A Green School Advocating an Interest in Nature and the Environment

/ Quang Ninh, Vietnam /

/ Story: Phattaraphon / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Duc Nguyen /

A green school that creates a healthy learning environment and advocates an interest in nature is making good progress in Vietnam. Here, a desire to connect with the natural world, hands-on experience growing up in the outdoors and nurturing a relationship with Mother Earth are of the utmost importance. It’s named My Montessori Garden in honor of Maria Montessori (1870-1952), an Italian educator who advocated a child-centered approach to education.

green school

The green school is located at Ha Long, a coastal city that’s part of Quang Ninh Province about an hour’s drive from Hanoi. It embraces the Montessori Method of teaching and learning that has become popular in this region of Vietnam in recent years.

In essence, it’s about answering individual children’s learning needs and getting outside into nature, thereby developing a sense of responsible stewardship of the environment as they grow. And it’s a good idea to start early with kindergarten children, who are curious to learn and inquire about everything around them.

Needless to say spending time in nature offers lasting psychological benefits. It’s a way to build a good inner foundation for life in the process of growing up into responsible adulthood. More so than anything else, there is no forced learning taking place. It’s a curriculum by which no child is left behind, and no one is forced to learn anything regardless of his or her own wishes.

green school

The schoolhouse design is a creation by a team of architects at HGAA, a Hanoi architectural practice, who successfully translated the ideas about alternative approaches to education into a reality. It’s a work of architecture founded upon an understanding of child behavior and nature of human learning. The result is a healthy environment conducive to learning, one that’s tailored to the specific needs of individual children.

green school

green school

green school
Although small in size, My Montessori Garden makes the most effective use of space, with easy traffic patterns designed with the little children in mind.

green school

How did they do it? To begin with, a design that’s plain and simple takes precedence here. The schoolhouse is built of steel structural framing. Dry construction was cost effective and took less time to build without causing negative impacts on the environment or inconveniences to community

In future, when the land lease expires and cannot be renewed, the whole project can simply be taken apart and moved to a new location.

A diagrammatic representation shows the built environment in relation to the school yard filled with green foliage and a corridor system between buildings. / Courtesy of HGAA
A diagrammatic drawing illustrates traffic patterns on the ground floor. / Courtesy of HGAA
A diagrammatic representation illustrates traffic patterns on the footbridge system. / Courtesy of HGAA
A side elevation drawing shows the trees, the footbridge system with mesh wire railing and, beyond, winged roofs with the center gutters for carrying off rainwater, a thoughtful design that prevents storm water from splashing onto neighboring homes. / Courtesy of HGAA
A cross section drawing shows winged roof ideas with the center channels for conveying rainwater away from the building. / Courtesy of HGAA
A simplified drawing illustrates the angle at which sunlight strikes, and the direction from which the wind enters and exits, creating indoor thermal comfort. / Courtesy of HGAA

My Montessori Garden sits on a small area of ground, only 600 square meters in all. For child safety, the overhead footbridge among the trees has wire mesh railing infills designed to protect against slip and fall accidents.

green school
Surrounded by trees and shrubbery, a footbridge system has wire mesh railing infills that protect against slip and fall accidents. It’s also an extra outdoor room for children to play in.

green school

Although small in size, natural elements are generously integrated into the plan in a way that pleases the senses and the mind.

There are two kinds of green space on the premises. On the ground, the school yard provides ample room with raised beds for growing vegetables, in-ground plants and shade trees. Above the ground, climbing vines and edible vegetation thrive on trellises and walls producing colorful flowers that give off good vibes.

green school
Children chat with friends as they tend leafy vegetables in raised beds and climbing vines producing flowers and edible fruits.

For the architects, it’s about designing an environment conducive to learning and, at the same time, promoting positive thinking, interactions with nature and socialization processes among kids. And it’s happening all day and every day, indoors and outdoors.

green school
Nature is the best classroom. To protect the little children from the elements, the entire wall of the building is glazed using clear glass with sliding doors that separate indoors from outdoors.


In a few words, well-thought-out design matters. For My Montessori Garden, it’s a design that fulfills the purpose for which it’s intended, one that’s easily to understand and presenting no difficulty. In the end, it boils down to one thing — nature is the best classroom.

green school

Architect: HGAA (

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