House for Trees *

Under rapid urbanization, cities in Vietnam have diverged far from their origins as sprawling tropical forests. In Ho Chi Minh City, for example, only 0.25% area of the entire city is covered with greenery. An over-abundance of motorbikes causes daily traffic congestion as well as serious air pollution. Floods occur frequently, not only in rural areas but also in the cities. As a result, new generations in urban areas are losing their connection with nature.
House for Trees, five scattered residential boxes for a single family, is an effort to change this situation. The aim of the project is to bring back green space into the city, accommodating high-density dwelling and offering a tropical lifestyle that coexists with nature.

Completed in 2014.Mar

Program: Private residence

Gross floor area: 227m²

Location: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Design: Vo Trong Nghia Architects  ( * Niko worked as a partner )

" Rooftop trees create a lifestyle open to nature "

Five boxes are made from concrete with bamboo texture and each resembles plant pots with large tropical trees on top. Thick soil layers for planting function as stormwater basins for detention and retention, contributing to reducing the risk of flood in the city when the idea is multiplied to a large number of houses in the future.

Fitting into a landlocked remnant site, five boxes are positioned to create two courtyards and small gardens in between. The boxes are open to the central courtyard with large openings to enhance natural lighting and ventilation, while remain relatively closed on the other sides for privacy and security. Common spaces are located on the ground floor and upper floors accommodate bedrooms and bathrooms, which are connected through bridge-cum-eaves. The courtyards and gardens, shaded by trees above, become a part of the living space.


© Photograph by Hiroyuki Oki

© Drawing by Vo Trong Nghia Architects (modified by Inrestudio)

The project is designed as a prototypical house for tropical cities by using low-tech construction means and passive design methods. The shade of rooftop trees and evaporation from the greenery on the ground cool the living space of the house as well as the thick soil layer works as heat insulator and window placement enhances cross ventilation. All of these contribute to reduce AC use in the house, and open the lifestyle to nature.