The beauty of the local architecture


2020 was a difficult year for Middle Vietnam; torrential rain and typhoons had submerged many areas of the country. Around the same time, we started our project in Quang Nam Province. The site is located on the banks of a river in Cam Thanh Commune – a corner plot on a junction in a small village surrounded by a typical Hoi An agricultural landscape. Our aim was to create a house that could cope with climate change and heavy rainfall, while still reflecting the beauty of the local architecture. The client, an environmental expert moving from the crowded city of Saigon, wished the house to be a tranquil space deeply connected to the local countryside and to be a peaceful place for her son who needs a peaceful situation to grow up. This house is not only a family home for four humans, but also a place where birds, spiders, or insects find shelter in the foliage. Furthermore, it operates as a micro-community center where the owner works with her environmental activist group and also as a meeting place and amenity for neighbors to strengthen community bonds. The client’s wishes and brief gave us the opportunity to create a ‘structure’ of spaces. Traditional Hoi An shophouses are arranged in a linear manner; we have taken this vernacular arrangement and instead coiled the sequence of ground floor spaces around an interior courtyard like a snail shell. These are arranged in an overlapping manner and merge into the courtyard to allow for different scenarios of usage. By raising the ground floor above the garden, we not only increase flood resistance but create new spatial possibilities. For example, the dining room floor becomes an inviting exterior bench for social interactions, offering greater permeability between interior and exterior. Just like an ecosystem, it is an organization of discrete objects; when combined together, they find their meaning.