Bat Trang House by VTN Architects is a porous, respiring dwelling in ceramic

Emerging as a beacon for the century old pottery village in Bat Trang Town, this residence merges the firm’s signature style with a strongly contextual material identity.

by Anmol AhujaPublished on : Mar 30, 2021

It is an entirely heartening predisposition when a single structure braves to define its context by extensively drawing from it. The Bat Trang House, located in the eponymous town where ceramic pottery is a nearly 10 decade old tradition, is a result of as well as testament to that concision. Designed by Ho Chi Minh City based Vo Trong Nghia Architects, from a brief for a residential structure for a seven-member family, the Bat Trang House develops in two distinct layers. Its exterior, formed of earth and rust coloured unglazed ceramic bricks, is inspired and informed by the traditional beauty of the town. Its interior, buffered by a series of court like volumes on different levels, almost ‘fed’ by its outer porous skin, adopts a more modern approach to ensure convenience and comfort for its inhabitants. Together, the house resonates and reflects, inward and outward, transforming into an almost respiratory entity.

  • The home is situated in Bat Trang Town: a pottery village that has endured for over ten decades | Bat Trang House | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    The home is situated in Bat Trang Town: a pottery village that has endured for over ten decades Image: Hiroyuki Oki
  • The exterior of the home is inspired by the village’s traditional beauty | Bat Trang House | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    The exterior of the home is inspired by the village’s traditional beauty Image: Hiroyuki Oki
  • Use of local materials was prioritized by the design team given the context’s rich cultural heritage | Bat Trang House | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    Use of local materials was prioritized by the design team given the context’s rich cultural heritage Image: Hiroyuki Oki

In recent times, Vietnam, and a number of young firms in the country, more particularly, have displayed a sharp propensity for displaying a new brand of architecture: an identity emerging from limitations, of budget, land, and resources, paving the way for and lending itself to an array of energised innovation. Through the packed, vibrant streets of Vietnam’s bustling towns, it is not an uncommon sight to now spot an impeccably designed ‘block’ amidst ‘plots’. The eastern side of the globe, a laboratory for global architecture in the 21st century, is thus witness to an emergent, contrasting new architecture, between swirling opera houses lining the Chinese coast in the northern hemisphere, and an architecture informed by its footing in its part of the world in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. This is remarkably similar to the situation in the west, where such a dichotomy is similarly observed in the United States, and a fresh wave of Mexican architecture. Inspiration is sought in diversity, and diversity is being found through context, by looking and digging around.

  • Ceramic bricks were used for the entire façade, providing their own rough aesthetic contrasted by pockets of greenery | Bat Trang House | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    Ceramic bricks were used for the entire façade, providing their own rough aesthetic contrasted by pockets of greenery Image: Hiroyuki Oki
  • Direct sunlight is filtered by small gaps in the façade along with the vegetation placed behind it | Bat Trang House | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    Direct sunlight is filtered by small gaps in the façade along with the vegetation placed behind it Image: Hiroyuki Oki
  • A series of elevated gardens cool the home’s interiors | Bat Trang House | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    A series of elevated gardens cool the home’s interiors Image: Hiroyuki Oki

Besides its residential typology, Bat Trang House also functions as a shop on the lower levels, trading traditional ceramic products of the pottery town. The residence, apart from embodying a strong sense of its surroundings and the firm’s distinct aesthetic, is also informed by a number of the client’s definitive choices, who defined his ideal home as one where nature intertwined with the other functions of the house. The owner of the plot also happened to be a ceramic specialist, leading to accessible and effortless material specialisation for VTN Architects. Apart from lending the project its entity in its ember-like hues, ceramic serves as an important intercessor here. Boasting of high durability as well as a distinct, raw aesthetic, ceramic is iteratively used to form the project’s weave like façade. Each of the ceramic blocks was individually made to size to create an alternating rhythm, opening up in some places while closing in others. While the smaller gaps act as natural vents, the larger ones frame bilateral views, interjected by sizeable greens that filter light inwards, forming natural avenues for each room to look at and attractive green terraces.

  • Nature intertwines with the house’s functional areas as eper the client's demands | Bat Trang House | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    Nature intertwines with the house’s functional areas as eper the client's demands Image: Hiroyuki Oki
  • Gaps in the ceramic walls ensure that the correct amount of light enters the interior  | Bat Trang House | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    Gaps in the ceramic walls ensure that the correct amount of light enters the interior Image: Hiroyuki Oki
  • Large glass panels were integrated without any fear of overheating | Bat Trang House | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    Large glass panels were integrated without any fear of overheating Image: Hiroyuki Oki

Following a minimal approach, the house generously makes use of large glass panels to frame selective fenestrations without the necessary oversight of having the house overheated, belonging to the climatic zone that it does. This is since the house essentially acts as a double screen, filtering direct sunlight and any glare unto its own, comprising the latticed ceramic façade and the green buffer between its skin and living spaces. Doubling up as an excellent ‘weave’ facilitating cross ventilation rendered the provision of artificial air conditioning beyond minimal demands redundant for the building, even during peak summer months.

  • Earthy wooden finishes and a minimalist approach characterize the interior design | Bat Trang House | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    Earthy wooden finishes and a minimalist approach characterize the interior design Image: Hiroyuki Oki
  • The layered façade creates a multilevel living picture frame | Bat Trang House | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    The layered façade creates a multilevel living picture framet Image: Hiroyuki Oki
  • An intimate connection to nature is inherent to the home’s design | Bat Trang House | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    An intimate connection to nature is inherent to the home’s design Image: Hiroyuki Oki

The imbibed sustainability of the building through passive cooling measures and a grounded material palette is complemented by solar panels on the terrace, and rainwater collecting systems. Alternating ceramic openings partaking in a dynamic play of light and shadow, along with an arboretum within the building render it into a microcosm; a living, transforming mini-ecosystem of its own.

  • Bat Trang House: Floor Plans | Bat Trang House | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    Bat Trang House: Floor Plans Image: Courtesy of VTN Architects
  • Bat Trang House: Elevations | Bat Trang House | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    Bat Trang House: Elevations Image: Courtesy of VTN Architects
  • Bat Trang House: Sections | Bat Trang House | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    Bat Trang House: Sections Image: Courtesy of VTN Architects
  • Block diagram showing massing and layers for the Bat Trang House | Bat Trang House | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    Block diagram showing massing and layers for the Bat Trang House Image: Courtesy of VTN Architects

Project Details

Name: Bat Trang House
Location: Bat Trang, Hanoi, Vietnam
Category: Residential
Site area: 220m2
GFA: 740m2
Architecture firm: VTN Architects
Principal architect: Vo Trong Nghia
Design team: Ngo Thuy Duong, Nguyen Van An, Do Huu Tam, Pham Phuong Thao.

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