VTN Architects packs a concrete villa with trees on its double skin façade in Vietnam

The plant life covers the interior and semi-exterior spaces of Ha Long Villa – a house designed in the coastal city of Ha Long by architect Vo Trong Nghia.

by Zohra Khan Published on : May 19, 2020

Along the coast of Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay – a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its towering limestone islands and emerald waters – VTN Architects has built a house like a rock in a forest. 'Ha Long Villa', as the architects call it, is a building characterised by multiple rectangular openings that dot its concrete walls and from where indoor trees emerge out.

Top view of the house | Ha Long Villa | VTN Architects | STIRworld
Top view of the house Image Credit: Hiroyuki Oki

The project has been conceived by Vo Trong Nghia, who heads the Ho Chi Minh-based firm. In response to the increasing tourism in Vietnam, the architect envisioned a house that helps connect people with nature.

Indoor trees emerging out from the openings in the facade | Ha Long Villa | VTN Architects | STIRworld
Indoor trees emerging out from the openings in the facade Image Credit: Hiroyuki Oki

"We have designed a sustainable home that exists in harmony with the surrounding environment and seeks to become part its landscape," says the firm with Vo Trong Nghia Architects as its full name.

  • Exploded axonometric | Ha Long Villa | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    Exploded axonometricImage Credit: Courtesy of VTN Architects
  • Ha Long Villa | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    First floor plan Image Credit: Courtesy of VTN Architects
  • Ha Long Villa | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    Section Image Credit: Courtesy of VTN Architects

The building comprises six storeys and is laid around a pentagonal layout. A spiral staircase encircles the internal perimeter that runs along the villa’s double skin green façade. Specially designed as a buffer to protect the interiors from the region’s hot tropical climate, this space also features many trees along the way that are visible from the street.

The façade openings have been cut strategically so that they do not hamper the growth of these trees and allow their foliage to pass through them naturally.

A view of the space slotted between the double skin facade | Ha Long Villa | VTN Architects | STIRworld
A view of the space slotted between the double skin facade Image Credit: Hiroyuki Oki

While wood textured rough concrete composes the exterior of the house – an expression that alludes to a sculptural rock-like form – the interiors, however, uses conventional finishes and finishing. These include features such as wooden panelled roofs, dark wood flooring, and smooth concrete walls.

Living | Ha Long Villa | VTN Architects | STIRworld
Living area Image Credit: Hiroyuki Oki

On the first two levels are the family’s living and dining areas; the second, third and fourth floor have bedrooms; and the fifth has a vegetable garden. The spaces have been designed with wide openings that overlook the views of the villa’s geometric façade openings and the sky beyond.

  • Dining | Ha Long Villa | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    Dining area Image Credit: Hiroyuki Oki
  • Bedroom | Ha Long Villa | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    Bedroom Image Credit: Hiroyuki Oki
  • Strategic openings in the interiors overlooking the bay | Ha Long Villa | VTN Architects | STIRworld
    Strategic openings in the interiors overlooking the bay Image Credit: Hiroyuki Oki

"This distinctive space offers residents options in their daily lives, like whether to dine inside or outside on a particular day,” comments the firm.

The project is one of the prototypes for 'House for Trees' - a series of residential projects by VTN Architects that it has been been creating for the last many years. "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," explains the firm.

Architecture giving way for nature to grow | Ha Long Villa | VTN Architects | STIRworld
Architecture giving way for nature to growImage Credit: Hiroyuki Oki

With its inherent simplicity and emphasis on nature, these projects are designed in a way that they can be replicated across site in a tropical climate region.

Previous projects by the firm include a forest hill for an office space in Vietnam , a training centre in Hanoi with a walkable concrete roof, and a thatched bamboo roof accommodation for an island resort off the country's northern coast.

Softly illuminated exterior of the house in the nighttime | Ha Long Villa | VTN Architects | STIRworld
Softly illuminated exterior of the house in the nighttime Image Credit: Hiroyuki Oki

Project Details

Name: Ha Long Villa
Location: Ha Long, Quang Ninh, Vietna
Architect: VTN architects (Vo Trong Nghia Architects)
Design team: Vo Trong Nghia, Nguyen Van Thu
Area: 514 sqm (site area), 1190 sqm (ground floor area)

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About Author

Zohra Khan

Zohra Khan

A formal education in architecture combined with an avid interest in architecture journalism and design criticism led Khan to professionally venture into writing and research. She has worked in design communication for more than three years, generating content for mondo*arc india journal. When not writing, she kicks back by dabbling on social media for STIR.

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