Stone House by
Vo Trong Nghia


This spiralling stone house in Vietnam by architect Vo Trong Nghia has grass on its roof and an oval courtyard at its centre (+ slideshow).

Stone House by Vo Trong Nghia

Vo Trong Nghia wanted to avoid copying the concrete and plaster buildings that are common in the surrounding Quang Ninh province and to instead create "a space that can record the changes and traces of time over the years through the aging of natural materials".

Stone House by Vo Trong Nghia

Following this concept, the two-storey Stone House is constructed from locally quarried stone blocks that are stacked up in an alternating grid to give a brickwork pattern to the walls.

Stone House by Vo Trong Nghia

Dark timber frames surround the windows and stand out against the muted grey colour of the stone.

Stone House by Vo Trong Nghia

Like many of Vo Trong Nghia's projects, the house was designed to minimise energy consumption. The central courtyard contains both a tree and a pool of water, intended to naturally cool the surrounding rooms.

Stone House by Vo Trong Nghia

Similarly, a thick layer of grass blankets the entire roof and is maintained by an inbuilt irrigation system.

Stone House by Vo Trong Nghia

The spiralling volume of the house gives a variety of ceiling heights to rooms on both floors. Bedrooms are stacked up on top of one another with lower ceilings, while the living room becomes a double height space.

Stone House by Vo Trong Nghia

Small study areas branch off from the main corridor and slot into the spaces between rooms.

Stone House by Vo Trong Nghia

Dark wood beams create stripes across the ceilings and accommodate low-energy LED lighting. Timber also lines the walls in most rooms and was used to construct the staircase.

Stone House by Vo Trong Nghia

Vietnamese architect Vo Trong Nghia has studios in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and his firm picked up two awards at the 2012 World Architecture Festival for the Stacking Green house and Binh Duong School. Speaking to Dezeen, Nghia explained his plans to reduce the energy crisis in both residential and public buildings.

See more architecture by Vo Trong Nghia Architects »
See more architecture in Vietnam »

Stone House by Vo Trong Nghia

Photography is by Hiroyuki Oki.

Stone House by Vo Trong Nghia

Here's some more information from Vo Trong Nghia Architects:

Stone House

This torus-shaped stone house is located in a quiet residential quarter beside the way to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi. A rising green roof and walls composed of subdued color stones in dark blue create a landscape, which stands out in the new residential area.

Stone House by Vo Trong Nghia

In Vietnam, ordinary houses are made by reinforced concrete, brick, plaster and painted boards despite there are abundant natural resources in the country such as stone, timber and so on. The subject of this project was to create a space that can record the changes and traces of time over the years through the aging of natural materials, which contributes to cultivate the beauty and enhance inhabitants' affection for the house. To achieve this goal, stones quarried from Thanh Hoa province (so-called blue stone) and hard wood ("Go Huong") were chosen for the main material of the house and they are designed together with greenery.

Stone House by Vo Trong Nghia

Above: concept diagram

A characteristic of this house is the layout of rooms in an elliptic plan. The rooms, composed of four clusters, surround the oval courtyard, making a colony-like relationship. The voids are inserted between each room-clusters and become activity nodes for its inhabitants as well as pathways for wind and light, connecting the courtyard and outside garden. The surface of the oval courtyard is a shallow pond with a symbol tree, which let cool air flow into the interior spaces.

Stone House by Vo Trong Nghia

Above: ground floor plan

Circulating flow runs around the courtyard and continues to the green roof, connecting all places in the house. The rising roof creates spaces with various ceiling height, which correspond to the functions of the house. For instance, the living room has nearly five-meter-high slanted ceiling, which provides verticality and openness. The courtyard and the green roof compose a sequential garden, which creates a rich relationship between inside and outside of the house. Residents discover the changes of the seasons and realize their wealthy life with the nature, thanks to this sequential garden. Irrigation pipes are buried under the soil of green roof as a component of automatic watering system, to lighten the maintenance work of the inhabitants.

Stone House by Vo Trong Nghia

Above: first floor plan

To create a wall with smooth curvature, cubic stones with 10cm thickness, 10cm height and 20 cm width are carefully stacked. The curved wall was stacked trapezoidal stone alternately and the regular pattern of the gap performs the play of light and shadow. Massive and meticulous texture of the wall generates a cave-like space, which recalls the image of a primitive house.



Stone House by Vo Trong Nghia


Above: roof plan

Interior of the living and dining room is finished with hard wood. Wood boards on its wall and round-shaped wood louvers under the ceiling create a friendly atmosphere for gathering. Louvers have LED tapes on its tops of and provide indirect light to the space underneath.

The fence of the house was also made of blue stones. It is harmonized with the main building and its garden. Creepers on the barb wires on the fence form a circle of green, and this green fence together with the green roof create a multi-layered green-scape and become a landmark of the town.

Stone House by Vo Trong Nghia

Above: section

Cow grass was originally planted on the roof and several native ferns covered the roof afterwards. The combination of plants, stones and timbers provides a space, in which the time of the family is being recorded. The family with 2 young children has been enjoying their living in the house which changing day by day. They sense each other and deepen their communication, rounding and rounding in the house.

Stone House by Vo Trong Nghia

Above: section

Architect Firm: Vo Trong Nghia Architects
Principal architect: Vo Trong Nghia
Contractor: Wind and Water House JSC
Status: Built in 02.2012
Program: Private House
Location: Quang Ninh province, Vietnam
GFA: 360sqm
Client: Individual

  • Lenix

    Heh, I love the idea of having an enterprise-style “warship room” as seen in the first floor plan, although this is probably meant to be a worship room. ;-)

  • bonsaiman

    Looks wonderful. Let’s hope nobody will say this was copied from Hundertwasser.

  • Colonel Pancake

    Vo Trong Nghia is doing really great work. Put him in your Rolodex.

  • What on earth is a warship room (on the second floor plan)?!

  • stuart

    Every home should have one :)

  • ANJ

    Most of my life has been spent in a warship room (of sorts). I don’t know how one can live in a house without one.

  • recon::decon

    For all of the effort put into the green spaces, the interior is really terrible and distracting. It feels dark and heavy when it should be light and open to celebrate the courtyard and green roof.

    This is really evident in the plan – most of the rooms don’t even take advantage of the courtyard views: instead that is circulation space. Seems like many of the rooms have odd geometries that would make actual furniture not really function in the space.

    Seems like a great concept that could have used a few discussions and revisions on the interior spaces.

    • Concerned Citizen

      I agree. Such small spaces as bedrooms in this plan cannot be easily arranged with the amoeba-like shape. All the furniture must be custom built.

      Aside from that, I surmise that contextualism is not a cultural concern in Vietnam.

    • I think you misunderstand the concept completely. You are talking about openness, light and views – well so far, so good, but I think this is not what the designers were aspiring to at all. These are all very western and modernist notions and I don’t say they are wrong but this house is an example of how you can design a “contemplative” space, according to the eastern values.

      Hence, it actually DOES pay respect to its (cultural) context, much more than if it was referencing traditional looks, explicitly; or conforming to international style. If you read the article, you will also see that the use of local materials is one of the points – they are meant to be heavy, and I think it works great.

      Do not criticise interiors from photos – photogenicity is not what these guys are aspiring for, at all. You could also read “In Praise of Shadows” by Junichiro Tanizaki, to understand these notions – how the architecture celebrates solemnity. And before you say such qualities cannot work in a residential building – I say, do not impose your lifestyle on culture you do not understand – they can.

      About the difficult geometry – that might be a fair point but again, as part of the concept and quality of spaces they are aiming for – perhaps it is well justified. Regarding the connection to the courtyard – again, this is not the kind of space comparable to our back yard – so you shouldn’t judge it according to such standards. Some of the rooms (living, dining) are facing both ways, the rest seem to be external-facing – and this is surely a very intentional gesture.

      To sum up, all I want to say is – you might like the principles that gave birth to such architecture, or you might not (even if you don’t really understand them – which most of us, not having experienced the culture, probably don’t). But to suggest such kind of ‘improvements’ is, at best, superficial, and missing the point here.

      • arjun

        You make some very valid points but I find that the introduction of concrete (or steel?) lintels into the load bearing vocabulary takes away from the purity of the concept. I’m pretty sure those openings can’t be spanned by stone or wooden lintels but correct me if I’m wrong.

        Also, the corridor along the internal courtyard takes away from the interconnected-ness and breathability of the spaces, which is an integral part of tropical architecture. Not many spaces are cross-ventilated.

  • Tom

    It is a room for playing in.

  • mawdster

    I cannot get over the doors opening to nothing on the first floor! And why go to the effort of curving the glass to such a small degree. The reflections on the first floor seem to be wrong. Its obviously just me. Or is it?

  • bnquick74

    All good and well, but I can't help wondering how many VND a person has to drop to live in a massive home that stands out like a sore thumb in a major urban area already lacking housing options for the unconnected. Seems a bit tone deaf.