Modernism seems obsessed with expressing the continuity between indoors and out, but in the tropical region of Vietnam, this was not a new concept, as traditional urban houses are often open to the street, such that the business interests of the occupants often offers a view into their living room; the division between public and private is a blurry one, as is that between indoors and out.
In this house by Vo Trong in Ho Chi Minh City, one finds the expected blurring between interior and exterior, but also an unexpected blurring between built and unbuilt, new and ancient, and a blurring of the line between ruin and occupied.
|Ancient Cham ruin|
Photo © G.
The facade isn't really a facade. It's ambiguous as to whether the thing is built or planted, as the planted takes up an equal amount of space, and the built doesn't seem to connect to other built, it exists as bands of material equal in prominence to the green, planted beds. Vietnamese cities are devoid, for the most part, of greenery, and the houses lack yards, though one can often see plantings hanging from balconies or windows. Vo Trong's planted facade offers an interesting take on this dilemma of urban Vietnam.
|Stairwell, back of house|
|Views of the light well|
|All photos © Hiroyuki Oki|