this vietnamese townhouse is an urban brick cave that simulates nature

this urban brick cave is a creative idea for vietnam’s ever-changing urban environment. it is located in a suburban neighborhood of hanoi, which has recently undergone a rapid process of urbanization. in response to its setting, H&P architects had a different idea of how to build a townhouse and this project demonstrates an unusual urban philosophy. with this cave-like townhouse, the architects take more inspiration from the natural world than the man-made. the building shapes the space similar to the the unpredictable effects of the earth, thus gaining the advantages of man’s first home — the cave. 

brick cave
all images by nguyen tien thanh

the overall structure is made up of, and enclosed by, two layers of brick wall. these join at an intersection, with alternate ‘green’ arrangements of plants and vegetables. bricks have long been a familiar local material, and are widely used in rural areas of vietnam thanks to their simple manual construction. there is something that appeals to the primal senses with this building, which lacks the western ideals of symmetry. it creates a landscape of spaces that are somehow both exciting and comforting. the wall was built at an angle to create better viewing angles for the landscape of the area, as well as to help the ‘users in various corners inside the house sense time and weather through shadow and air’ — explains H&P architects.

brick cave

the home’s two layers function as a filter. they eliminate the adverse aspects of the external environment (sunshine from the west, dust, noise, etc) and bring nature (light, rain, wind) into the space where it is desired. the first outer wall acts as a kind of screen or buffer to the outside world, connecting the inside with the exterior and blurring the normally precise urban boundaries. as put by the designers, the project ‘encompasses a chain of space interconnected one another with random apertures gradually shifting from openness/publicity to closeness/privacy and vice versa.’

brick cave

brick cave

brick cave

brick cave

brick cave

brick cave

brick cave

brick cave

brick cave

brick cave

brick cave

brick cave

brick cave

brick cave

project info:

architect: H&P architects
location: bieu khe hamlet, thuy lam commune, dong anh district, hanoi, vietnam
principal architects: doan thanh ha, tran ngoc phuong
team: nguyen hai hue, trinh thi thanh huyen, ho manh cuong, nguyen duc anh, tran van duong
land area: 175 sqm
total floor area: 190 sqm
manufacturers: viglacera brick
completed: december 2017
photography: nguyen tien thanh

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