Stacking Green
by Vo Trong Nghia

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

A dozen layers of concrete planters create a vertical garden on the facade of this house in Ho Chi Minh City by Vietnamese architects Vo Trong Nghia.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

Built for a couple and one of their mothers, the building is 20m deep but just 4m wide, typical of the narrow but long 'tube houses' common in Vietnam.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

Concrete planters span between the side walls to cover the front and back facades, and are spaced according to the height of the plants.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

At the rear of the house, an exterior staircase is positioned between the planters and the back wall, while glazing separates the front of the house from the plants.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

Automatic irrigation pipes fitted inside the planters allow for easy watering and maintenance.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

A rooftop garden provides shelter from the noise and pollution of the streets below.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

Inside the house, there are few partition walls in order to maximise views of the green facades and encourage ventilation. The rooflights also allow natural light to penetrate.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

Sunlight pokes through the leaves of the plants to cast dappled shadows on the granite walls.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

Photographs are by Hiroyuki Oki.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

See more stories from Vietnam »

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

Here's some more text from the architects:

Project Name: Stacking Green
Location: Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam
Completion: 2011

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

Architect’s Name: Vo Trong Nghia + Daisuke Sanuki + Shunri Nishizawa
Contractor: Thuan Viet Company + Wind and water House JSC.
Floor area: 250m2 (4 floors)

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

Whoever wanders around Saigon, a chaotic city with the highest density of population in the world, can easily find flower-pots cramped and displayed here and there all around the streets.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

This interesting custom has formed the character of Saigon over a long period of time and Saigonese love their life with a large variety of tropical plants and flowers in their balconies, courtyards and streets.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

The house, designed for a thirty-year-old couple and their mother, is a typical tube house constructed on the plot 4m wide and 20m deep.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

The front and back facades are entirely composed of layers of concrete planters cantilevered from two side walls.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

The distance between the planters and the height of the planters are adjusted according to the height of the plants, which varies from 25 cm to 40 cm.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

To water plants and for easy maintenance, we use the automatic irrigation pipes inside the planters.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

We named this tropical, unique and green house “Stacking Green” because its façades filled with vigorous and vital greenery.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

Click above for larger image

The house structure is an RC frame structure widely used in Vietnam. The partition walls are very few in order to keep interior fluency and view of green façades from every point of the house.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

During the day we get the varying light with the time of day trimmed by the top-light in the centre.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

In the morning and the afternoon, the sunlight enters through the amount of leafs on both façades, creating beautiful shadow effects on the granite walls, which are composed of strictly stacked 2cm stones.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

The green façade and roof top garden protect its inhabitants from the direct sunlight, street noise and pollution. Furthermore, natural ventilation through the façades and 2 top-lights allow this house to save a big energy in a harsh climate in Saigon.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

Concerning these ecological approaches, we referred a lot to the bioclimatic principles of traditional Vietnamese courtyard house.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

In this chaotic city, we defined the full variety of surrounding greenery as a context of Saigon and applied to the main concept of this house.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

Although the Saigon townscape is getting uniformed and boring under the influence of the furious urban sprawl of recent years, we intended this house to inspire people to re-define and re-increase the greenery as the character of this city.

Stacking Green by Vo Trong Nghia

“Stacking Green” is just one small house, but it is generated from the context of Saigon. We hope that “Stacking Green” makes Saigon become more distinguished and fascinating with much more tropical greenery in the future.

  • Colonel Pancake

    Vietnam is interesting.

    As Vietnam starts to transition from a controlled quasi-communist economy to a more mixed state-capitalist economy, I would increasingly start to expect the wheels of capitalism to start turning over there with a fairly profound impact on new architecture. I guess the interesting part is the extent to which Vietnam will or won't conform to certain design typologies from western or eastern cultures, which to varying degrees have all tried to implant their hegemony onto Vietnam throughout the 20th century. For a country whose people are relatively insular in their interrelation with outside cultures, their own visual environment is quite the odd little melting pot of artificial provincialism.

    Oh, and pretty nice house.

  • Marc Archambault

    I imagine this is an oasis for the owners, tucked away amongst the greenery in a dense urban jungle. Nicely done.

  • beck

    Beautiful living spaces.

  • Owen

    It's like an oasis in dreary city.

  • Inspiring indeed! Hope to have this kind of house design in the future… kudos to the owner!

  • kaihanga

    Interesting use of the wall of planters in the project, but its distressing to see the extent to which the pernicious influence of western typologies have colonised the thinking in design in Asia. There’s not a trace of Vietnam in these images, which present the use of Courbusier, Eames, and Jacobsen furniture as if this is some sort of triumph in the delivery of ‘style’ to the project. The overall result is pleasing, yes, but in the sense of the bling of countless glossies worldwide rather than a significant marriage of location and context.

    The mindless pickup of these typically western gestures in design is beginning to threaten the progress of a credible movement toward the evolution of an authentic regional design language; one that genuinely reflects a culture that gave the world its uniquely Vietnamese signature.

    • Juan Galicia

      I’m not sure I see the point. Sure there’s nothing here that represents Vietnamese architecture, but is that really important? It’s a house, and as long as it responds well to the local climate conditions and its context I really see no problem. The argument would make more sense to me if it was a cultural center or museum.

      But even then, I don’t think its helpful to try and follow a certain way of design just because its prevalent in the area, unless it offers a solution to a problem in your project.

    • Airborne

      The vernacular style in Vietnam is almost non-existing. The country was and still is a land of farmers that not so long ago lived in bamboo huts. Ancient dwellings of the well-to-do were made of wood. The structure was mainly post and beam with the roof was it most important part. The country has a harsh climate and most of these houses have disappeared. Pagodas and temples are still present because they are being rebuild over the years. The brick colonial style houses that have survived the wars are influenced by the French occupiers and as such not essential vernacular.

      I live in Vietnam most of the year and have come to the conclusion that most houses are not designed by architects but just build by builders. I see mainly bunker-like structures that are ‘enriched’ with pasted on ornamentation in a neo-classicist style. The result are houses that look like a wedding cake. Unfortunately wood as a building material can no longer be considered as the country is almost deforested. Dried wood has become very costly and scarce. Carpenters use wood that has just been cut because of the shortage. Architects have to rethink what is appropriate for this country and I believe this house is setting a good example.

  • Abigail Tan

    Very creative and well planned architecture.

  • Susan Oshinski

    Fantastic! Thank you for the great idea and completion. I love the greens at the human level of vertical living. The urban landscapes will prosper from more of this design. Love a room dedicated to worship as well. Great concept.

  • Very interesting indeed. The combination of the green and the white on the outside, and the warmth of wooden floors on the inside creates a beautiful atmosphere. We were just wondering if such a massive vegetation was somehow preventing light from entering into the rooms?

  • Cecilie Vibe

    Would love to know the exact address. I am going to Ho Chi Minh City, so it would be cool to see it.

  • Luckyarchitect

    Just see this link which shows how the house was used after the clients moved in, you will feel shocked:
    That is exactly why I think there is a huge gap between what looks nice and what a human being actually needs!

  • A beautiful example of intelligent usage of space; congratulations to the architects!