Hem House

In the typical Vietnamese Hems – very narrow alleys where houses are usually small and dark – Sanuki Daisuke designed a building that assures privacy and natural light, through clever solutions.

Sanuki Daisuke Architects, Hem House, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 2016
Sanuki Daisuke Architects designed a single family house in a small alley ­– or Hem – in the center of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. In Vietnamese towns, the buildings’ blocks are usually defined by main streets, with numerous narrow alleys inside, animated by vivacious Vietnamese life. The alleys’ width may vary from two to four meters and, occasionally, it can be even less than one meter. Due to their distinctive features, Hems are quite attractive urban spaces.
Hem in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 2016
Hem in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 2016
Houses in the Hem are usually covered by fences or smoked glass for security, privacy and shading. As a result, the houses look like ‘cages’, with dark interiors that need the use of electric lighting even during the day. The architect’s mission was, therefore, to design an enjoyable and bright house in the Hem.
Sanuki Daisuke Architects, Hem House, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 2016
Sanuki Daisuke Architects, Hem House, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 2016
Since the the street was just 1.7 to 2.1 meters wide, another challenge was to keep privacy and security. Sanuki Daisuke Architects decided to set “openings with depth” all around the perimeter wall, meaning that the wall openings have a depth of 50 to 80 cm and are equipped with furniture and shelves. This solution helped to save indoor spaces, making them brighter by getting natural light’s reflection. Keeping privacy at the same time, providing the eye stop from outside. 
Sanuki Daisuke Architects, Hem House, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 2016
Sanuki Daisuke Architects, Hem House, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 2016
The building, with its simple shape, achieved the maximum area according to the local regulation and many openings all around the facade. It seems closed from outside, but the inside environment is incredibly bright, with natural lighting and wind. The steel mesh are custom made and different on each window, with patterns selected according to the client’s usage and referring to Vietnamese local textiles. The meshes provide at the same security and movement to the facade.
Sanuki Daisuke Architects, Hem House, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 2016
Sanuki Daisuke Architects, Hem House, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 2016
Each floor has a different ceiling height and features Vietnamese traditional materials. The outside wall is finished by exposed terrazzo. The interior cement tile is also local and a widely used material. The positioning of the openings was carefully decided considering the context conditions and the future planning of neighborhood. The views of the Hems were selected to become a part of interior space. 

Hem House, Dist1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Program: single family house
Architects: Sanuki Daisuke Architects , Sanuki Daisuke, Huynh Anh Tuan
Main contractor and structure: Công ty TNHH Cơ khí và xây dựng & thương mại Tám sáu
Building height: 13.6m, 4 stories
Structure: reinforced concrete frame structure
Completion: 2016

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