Vo Trong Nghia Architects puts a fresh spin on the ancient art of rammed earth construction in the Dong Anh house, a modern dwelling topped with living fruit trees. Taking advantage of the property’s secure and isolated location in Hanoi, the architects applied an “open garden design” that embraces nature in, around, and even on top of the home. The thick earth walls provide high thermal mass and keep the home cool by storing heat during the day and then dissipating that heat at night.
Although Vietnam has a history of rammed earth construction, particularly in the country’s northwest region, most of the country’s construction relies primarily on concrete, not earth. In hopes of promoting the advantages of rammed earth walls in a modern context, Vo Trong Nghia Architects crafted the walls of the Dong Anh house out of soils taken from a variety of land mines, all within 20 miles of the site. The soils were then filtered, ground and mixed with cement and other additives before being compacted in formwork. The diversity of soils creates a unique striation on the compacted, nearly 14-inch-thick walls.
Designed for a large family, the spacious 5,382-square-foot home covers two stories in a roughly H-shaped plan. The first floor comprises the main communal spaces as well as the maid room, storage, and three bedrooms. The second level includes two additional bedrooms and an outdoor courtyard. The fruit trees grown in large planters are located on both roofs. “Amount of fruit trees on the roof, along with the open garden around the house is another emphasis that makes a green, cool and friendly environment to the people,” wrote the architects. “And sloping roof is also a reasonable design for tropical monsoon climate in Vietnam.”
Images by Hiroyuki Oki