It's no wonder that in one of the world's busiest metropolises, residents are looking to bring green elements to inner-city areas. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is home to a new family residence by Vo Trong Nghia Architects that aims to address this issue exactly. With only 0.25 per cent of the Vietnamese capital taken up by vegetation, House for Trees offers a welcome alternative, matching high-density living space with a large, tropical forest.
Working within a tight budget, the architects created a house in what used to be a vacant lot in the middle of a block. The design consists of five concrete boxes designed as giant pots, with trees planted on top. The trees emerge as if from an oasis at the heart of the Tan Binh district, where many typical Vietnamese houses are crowded together. The property becomes 'a part of nature even in the middle of a busy city', says architect Vo Trong Nghia. At the same time, it mirrors the urban fabric in its fragmentation.
The five boxes are placed around a central courtyard with small gardens created in between. Large glass doors opening onto the courtyard allow in natural light and encourage ventilation while creating a private environment on all other sides. The central courtyard also provides a secluded outdoor space for the residents to relax in.
The trees serve not only as a green measure. Were the idea to be multiplied to a larger number of houses, the trees would also contribute to minimising the risk of flooding.
To reduce costs and the carbon footprint, locally sourced, natural materials were used and left untreated - such as the concrete and bamboo framework on the external walls. The effect created by this texture also enriches the home's appearance. 'Light and shadow are changing every hour,' says the architect. 'The house shows different faces time after time.'