The capital of Vietnam has an extremely compact urban framework with a high population density. Over the last twenty years new houses have sprung up in the narrow streets, with portions of facades that are different from each other in terms of colour, decoration and formal style. They are what is today known as tubular architecture, for their clearly vertical development, with a frontal width of just a few metres, and a height of 6 or 7 floors. However, these are not apartment blocks, like in Western cities, but individual homes shared by generations of the same family. The ground floor has windows from floor to ceiling with wooden frames, and is traditionally used as a living room-kitchen and, frequently, a store or restaurant, while the bedrooms, the more private spaces in these homes, are on the upper floors.
Following this plan, DA & A architects have redesigned a tubular building on 5 floors as a home-office. The theme was to maintain the original shared nature of the architecture, with spaces for work and socialising and communal and private spaces. The design maintains the public areas in the entrance on the ground floor with a car park, and offices are located on the first floor. The third floor is home to the living area with a kitchen, while the top two floors house the bedrooms.
Some of the problems found in these buildings, located next to one another with only the front opening onto the outside, include a lack of natural light and ventilation. The design incorporates a balcony, which is traditionally on the main façade on each floorand closes the other facades with shutters in shorea wood, which are extremely flexible and work as a filter for environmental communication between the interior and the exterior, as well as a security system.The side of the building that gives onto the street has a very neat façade that is also extremely dynamic, due to the wide range of possible openings and there is a second system of shutters in the same dark wood, i.e. full height French doors that regulate the indoor temperature.
The temperature is also regulated at the rear by a stairwell and an atrium that rises the whole height of the building, up to the green roof. This well of air and light draws warm air upwards and keeps the interior spaces cool, so there is no need for air conditioning.
Concrete and exposed brick with rough finishes highlight the hand finished shorea wood. This is a low-cost wood popular in Vietnam because it is hard wearing and, in this case, it was also chosen because it resists damp, insects, torrential rain and the boiling summer sun Due to regulations to combat deforestation the architects chose wood that is not in danger of extinction, which comes from Indonesia through controlled channels.
Design: DA & A architects
Client: Anh Nguyen of DA & A
Location: Hanoi (Vietnam)
Structural design: DA & A architects with HBS structures
Gross usable surface: 400 m2
Lot area: 84 m2
Project start date: 2009
Completion of work: 2011
Handmade Indonesian shorea wood shutters
Brick façade with exposed concrete, natural stone and Indonesian shorea wood
Reinforced, laid concrete structure
Photography: © DA & A architects, Duc Le Anh