Architecture Building Materials Residential design Sustainable design

NH Village Architects designs rural Vietnamese house with central courtyard using local wood and bricks

November 30, 2020

NH Village Architects has designed a house called the X-House in a rural area of Phu Tho province in northern Vietnam. Using predominantly Xoan (scientific name is Melia azedarach), a variety of local wood as the main material to create a warm space that co-exists in harmony with its surroundings.

Xoan – frequently used in many vernacular houses in the region – is an economical and fast-growing option. It is soft but once given the right treatment, it becomes durable. The design team worked closely with the owner to buy the raw materials and follow the traditional wood treatment process from the beginning. In order to build a stable, economical project, the roofing is supported by a high bridge structure that is partly made with concrete. The walls are made with exposed red brick, while all other elements like the doors, window frames and furniture are made with xoan.

Recently, wood material used in Vietnam is mostly imported from overseas due to the lack of wood from the local forest. By using xoan, the design practice hopes to encourage using local materials for a sustainable cycle.

The house accommodates a large family with an altar space – a solemn worship space in Vietnamese houses. As a tradition in the region, the house is expected to be a place where family events are organised annually. On the first floor, altar space and dining-living room link to each other and to the central yard in the front so that people can move around freely or expand the scope of activities. Utilities such as kitchen, storage area and two main bedrooms are positioned at the back of the house. Three guest rooms are placed on the second level where occupants can look over to the surrounding lush vegetation.   


With the area of 1,200m2, surrounded by rural landscape, both the indoor and outdoor circulation flow were planned in a zigzag formation in order to achieve flexibility in movement.

Materials used for the wall and yard are exposed red brick, popular material that also imparts a warm ambience.  The trees planted in the garden are also chosen from the local flora varieties.

Frontyard plays an important role in terms of access to the house and the traffic within it. The altar room along with the large living- dining space can be accessed from the central yard, allowing residents to move about freely on the ground floor. The door system is designed flexibly, opening and closing in separate parts, to meet the needs and preferences of the family. Furthermore, every door contains a small window that slides open to control the air and light within the interior efficiently.

Project details:

  • Architects: NH Village Architects
  • Area: 450 m²
  • Year: 2020
  • Photographs: Hiroyuki Oki
  • Design team: Tran Dai Nghia, Nguyen Phuong Hieu, Pham Thu Trang
  • Site area:1,200 m2
  • Country: Vietnam

See the full image gallery here:

Photos: Hiroyuki Oki

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