This house in Hanoi resembles a cave. It is enclosed by two layers of brick walls meeting one another at an intersection, with alternate ‘green’ arrangements of plants and vegetables. Bricks have long been a familiar local material and are widely used in rural areas of Vietnam with a simple manual construction method. The two built-in layers of wall function as a filter to eliminate the adverse aspects of the external environment (sunshine from the west, dust, noise) and bring nature (light, rain, wind) inside where it is necessary.
The upper portion of the outer wall is tilted inward to create better angles for viewing the surrounding area. This, at the same time, helps users in various corners inside the house sense time and weather through shadow and air. Brick Cave encompasses a chain of interconnected spaces with random apertures gradually shifting from openness/publicity to closure/privacy and vice versa. The combination of ‘closed’ and ‘open’ creates diverse relations with the surroundings and thus helps blur the boundaries between in and out, house and street/alley, human and nature.
Brick Cave imparts on its inhabitants a sense of strangeness and familiarity by offering them images of corners of a yard, expanses of the sky, strips of a garden, and parts of an alley… which is tentative to uses of space at different times in the typical tropical monsoon climate of the north of Vietnam. It brings users an interesting and enjoyable experience as they are accommodated with the sense of a large open space harmonised with the comfort of a safe shelter.
Photography: Nguyen Tien Thanh