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Ha Long Villa: Existing In Harmony with Nature

Vietnam has an abundance of nature and townscapes that are registered as World Heritage Sites. Economic growth due to the increase in tourism has raised the standard of living but has also given way to reckless development by destroying trees and clearing away nature.

Ha Long Villa | VTN Architects
Ha Long Villa

To tackle this situation, VTN Architects wanted to create a house that would connect people and nature. Ha Long, home to Ha Long Villa, is a beautiful coastal city in northern Vietnam, 160 km northeast of Hanoi. It is also home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay. In particular, it is a city abundant with local industries such as fisheries and coal mining, and it is a region that is rapidly developing alongside its tourism industry. The site is near the coast and overlooks Ha Long Bay with a landscape made of thousands of large and small rocks. The building is one of many new homes that have been constructed on Ha Long Bay recently.

In such a rich setting, VTN Architects designed a sustainable home that exists in harmony with the surrounding environment and seeks to become part its landscape. The main concept of the house was to create space where people can live in a forest. VTN Architects hopes this house, which is part-building and part-landscape, can serve as a reminder about the importance of maintaining a balance between the two.

The Design

In creating a surrounding forest, the 6-story house is comprised of a pentagon within a pentagon that establishes spatial layers of interior and semi-exterior spaces filled with greenery. These 6-stories are connected by a staircase that spirals up around the perimeter.

This composition creates deep shadows as part of the double skin green facade against the hot tropical climate. This buffer space between the interior and exterior spaces protect the house against the hot climate and noise. Every semi-exterior space is connected by the main spiral staircase. There is a spatial sequence from the outside to the inside, from ground to roof, and through the semi-exterior space with a large window and plenty of greenery to feel the rich natural landscape and city view from different angles. Planting boxes are slotted into the gaps between different sections of the staircase, creating plenty of space for the trees to grow.

The semi-exterior space connects the interior and the terrace part of the garden, and is a place to promote various living activities. It is a multi-purpose space which serves as a connection between each space. It is a place for gardening, sightseeing, sitting, walking and it also connects to the living space. These distinctive spaces offers residents options in their daily lives, like whether to dine inside or outside on a particular day. The various movements in the resident’s lives are also conveyed to the neighborhood through the exterior window facade.

Inside, this textured surface is swapped for more traditional domestic finishes, including wooden floors, smooth-rendered walls and curtains. Living spaces can be found on the two lower levels, while bedrooms occupy the second, third and fourth floors. The fifth floor contains a garden where residents can grow their own vegetables.

Exterior walls are made by rough exposed concrete which creates an impression of stone found in Ha Long Bay. The greenery in the semi-exterior spaces casts shadows on this strong facade, creating an ever-changing appearance over time. The contrast between the rough concrete and soft trees expresses a unique impression to the outside. Additionally, with dozens of plants planted on the roof, we create an area several times larger than the original green area.

Ha Long Villa is one of the prototypes of “House for Trees”, which is a series of residential projects. The aim of the series is to bring green spaces back into the city, and to design as much greenery as was present in the original landscape to provide a healthier life to people living in the city. Due to the simplicity in the concept, the idea of “House for Trees” can be multiplied almost anywhere in tropical climate regions.

The first House for Trees, completed in 2014, featured a series of concrete blocks that looked like oversized pot plants. Others include the geometric Binh House and the multi-level Ha House.

VTN Architects has completed a whole host of other projects recently, which led to it being named Architect of the Year at Dezeen Awards 2019. Highlights include Castaway Island Resort and the bamboo work Nocenco Cafe.

As part of the vast landscape, Ha Long Villa - a Green Architecture project - harmonizes with the natural environment. Ha Long Villa aims to be a space where people return to living surrounded by nature.

Note: Ha Long Villa has been longlisted in the urban house category of the 2020 Dezeen Awards.


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