In a peaceful, uncrowded neighbourhood of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam sits a family town house on a plot of land measuring about 7m x 16m. Yes you read that right, 7m x 16m.
Further more, urban planning in the area requires a setback of 2.5m at the front of the plot and 2m at the back of the plot. This reduces the buildable area of the project to 7m x 11.5m. Now what you need to understand is that, this plot is intended for a row-house-style development, meaning no windows on the sides, and also the couple who own the plot (having worked and saved for about a decade to acquire it) needed to build a 4 bedroom townhouse with garage and more, that would also be comfortable for kids! You may call that ridiculous and almost impossible, but the designers for 23°5 Studio took the challenge head on.
Their solution was to design the home on multiple split levels arranged around a central vertical space, which creates atrium-like-courts and connections between the required rooms.
The ground floor caters to the required garage, a small living room and fairly large open kitchen/dining within which there is a small planted court drawing light and enjoyable amenity. The staircase is masterfully designed as it seemingly rises from a pool of water adjacent to the kitchen/dining area. A backyard also aids ventilation and daylighting into the ground floor, which also plays host to a small guest toilet.
The first floor features two fairly large ensuite rooms, one of which is the master bedroom, with a walk-in-wardrobe!! The rooms are split on two different levels separated by the stairwell and a small study nook all of which are well lit and ventilated thanks to about 3 of the aforementioned atrium-like-courts that perforate the building.
The top floor takes a similar approach to the first with two bedrooms (fairly large and ensuite) on two different levels and separated at the core by yet another viable well lit and ventilated room, this time serving as an altar for the family, along with a large balcony where the outdoors can be enjoyed.
Pockets of greenery and planting are located strategically around the home on all the floors, serving as natural buffers and barriers to the outside, and actively bring a bit of outside indoors.
Yet another prominent feature of the design are what I’d like to call ‘SQUARES OF LIGHT’. Different sizes of randomly laid out fixed glass windows adorn the facade of the home piercing the volumes with streams of natural light and eliminating all forms of darkness and dinginess. A similar aesthetic is used on the entrance gates to the house, which also buttress the rectilinear geometry of the home.
This is style and approach of the design is remarkable in its entirety. Its supremely functional and covers such a small foot print that it should serves as the standard when designing row houses the world over!! Okay, maybe I’m taking it too far, but you must agree that 23°5 Studio have delivered exemplary architecture in this project with all the space constriants and eliminated any preconceived notions of darkness and heat with this typology. Its bright and looks remarkably airy and comfortable.