by Jerry ElengicalDec 30, 2022
Abuzz with floating markets, boats and stilt houses, and sheathed in distant landscapes of charming greens and blues is the ‘rice bowl’ of southwest Vietnam—the Mekong Delta. Comprising a network of tributaries that run between Ho Chi Minh City and Cambodia, the agricultural region—responsible for over half of rice and fish consumption in Vietnam in addition to being a popular tourist destination—reels from heavy flooding every year. The situation is alarming to the point that as per a report released by the Ministry of National Resources and Environment (MoNRE) in 2020, an 80-cm rise in the sea level could leave 31.94 per cent of Mekong Delta permanently flooded. Over several years, people of this region have learned to live with floods, the resilience however continues to remain challenged by climate change. Vietnamese architecture studio, H&P Architects has proposed a residential design model to support livelihoods that are river-based, particularly those living in the Mekong Delta. Their Floating Bamboo House, comprising two models—a stilt house, and its floating counterpart—is conceived as compartmentalised domestic space.
The project took cues from the building of Rong, a type of communal house found in the villages of ethnic minorities in Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Towering stilt homes that go up as high as 100 metres, the wood and bamboo architecture encapsulates the cultural heart of the locals and is used for different activities—from hosting community ceremonies and administrative events to serving as a space where bachelors and widowers could spend the night. Inspired by the long-lasting nature of these structures, the Floating Bamboo House too hopes to contribute to different spatial programs for the residents, beyond being a home.
The practice of H&P Architects is characterised by projects that exude a strong material identity, a vernacular approach, and close contact between architecture and nature. The project too reflects this synergy—of being one with the place it sits in. Solid core bamboo held together with laches and ties reveals the structure’s pitched shell, whereas, on the outside, a series of local material cladding keep up with the region’s erratic weather. The stilt home reveals an ingenious use of plastic bottles on the entrance façade as a translucent skin, while the upper portion of the roof and remaining facades are covered in "guot" grass—a traditional weaving material which is often combined with sedge, corn leaves, rattan, water hyacinths, and bamboo to create various handcrafted products. The home’s prototype that floats on water features a homogenous use of compressed weaved bamboo sheets on the exteriors.
The interiors reveal a dizzying grid of bamboo poles making way for different inhabitable pockets. While the stilt house is only designed with a single level, the one hovering on water has compartments for different utilities. The latter comprises a living and dining area, a kitchen, a bath area, and a toilet on the lower level, and an intimate study and resting area on the upper level. A tactile harmony sweeps through the whole space where bamboo in different expressions takes up eclectic roles. The flooring is made of bamboo slats, whereas the interior elements such as low-lying tables, stools, seating mats, and kitchen countertops are all crafted in bamboo. A series of awning windows bring in natural light and air, whereas a solar panel and a rainwater catchment tank on the roof caters to the power and hydration needs of the house.
To make sure the house floats seamlessly on water, H&P Architects combined a series of reused plastic drums with steel tubes and tied it beneath the home’s floor. Within this system, the design team centrally slotted three water tanks for domestic use: septic, filter, and for storage.
"Vietnam is one of the hardest-hit countries in the world by climate change. As forecasted, 47 per cent of the Mekong Delta area and 13 per cent of the Red River Delta area will be submerged by the sea level rise of 1 metre, directly affecting over 20 to 30 million people. In this context, Floating Bamboo House is believed to provide a useful alternative for millions of poor households to, as soon as possible, create a stable and safe accommodation themselves, and adapt to the worst scenario of responding to climate change,” shares the Hanoi-based studio.
H&P Architects hope to involve the project in a larger scheme composed of many such floating homes. The residential grouping, as per the studio, is expected to have floating playing grounds, vegetable-growing rafts, and fish rearing areas. The plan is yet to be finalised.
Name: Floating Bamboo House
FB house: Phu Cat, Quoc Oai, Hanoi, Vietnam
FB house 2: Hong Thai, Phu Xuyen, Hanoi, Vietnam
Team: Doan Thanh Ha, Vu Minh Dien, Pham Hong Son, Nguyen Hai Hue, Nguyen Tuan Hai, Le Duy Thanh + Students (Duong Minh Duc, Vu Ngoc Tuan, Nguyen Hung Giang).
Architectural adviser: Dr. Nguyen Tri Thanh
FB house: Samsung Foundation of Culture
FB house 2: Architecture & Social Responsibility Foundation (ASR Foundation)
Total floor area: 36 m2[FB house] & 48m2[FB house 2]
Completion date: June 2022 [FB house] & Oct 2022 [FB house 2]
- Bamboo Architecture
- Climate Change
- Contextual Architecture
- Contextual Design
- Floating Architecture
- Floating Home
- H&P Architects
- Residential Architecture
- Residential Design
- Solar Energy
- Sustainable Architecture
- Sustainable Housing
- Vernacular Architecture
- Vietnamese Architect
- Vietnamese Architecture
- Wood Architecture