How The Drawers House Uses the Landscape to Control the Climate
Article by Maria Giovanna Drago – A review of The Drawers House by MIA Design Studio, in Vũng Tàu – Vietnam.
The MIA Design Studio was born in Ho Chi Minh City in 2003 – from the collaboration of three individuals – and currently employs 30 people. Its projects are renowned for a certain attention to climate performances and for the integration of external and internal spaces.
“Less, but better” is one of the company’s slogans.
Among the most international eco-projects, there is the “Drawers House“. It is located in Vung Tau, southern Vietnam, and was built in just six months for a family of four persons.
The Drawers House
The private residence gives the illusion of being the usual villa enclosed by walls when seen from the road. The thematic of the enclosure is strong, as if this presence is to protect the family nest, but in an alternative way: once you cross the threshold of the huge wooden entrance, you are dazzled by an appearance of greenery and transparencies surmounted by the blue sky.
It seems like jumping into a micro-world indeed, intimately tucked away from neighbouring buildings and the road, but in which spaces have no visual boundaries thanks to open spaces and large windows. It seems like being outdoors while being indoors.
The house occupies a rectangular lot with the two short sides slightly inclined according to the orientation of the road. A 3m-high wall runs all around, on the northwest side there is the entrance: a large sliding wooden door that opens onto a wide sidewalk adjacent the road.
You can come inside to the patio, which is covered in grey stone and connected to the entrance of the house by two steps. To the right of the patio itself there is a slightly raised square pond; a 5m tree with large, light green leaves stands in its center.
The First Drawer
The residence is called “The Drawers House” because of its plan organization: three rectangles – which include the interiors – are parallel to each other but separated by two outdoor rectangles of greenery. People immediately enter into the first rectangle: this is the living area – kitchen, dining and sitting area – and it looks outside to the patio and the pond thanks to a fully-glazed façade.
It also faces the first of the private green spaces on the other side, which is reachable thanks to sliding folding doors shaded by 3m curtains of bridal creeper hanging from the roof. Here there are two trees – similar to the one at the entrance – on a lush lawn.
Walking along a long corridor, whose external side is also covered by the bridal veil creeper branches reaching the floor, you can walk the northeast side reaching the sleeping rooms and glimpsing the courtyards, as they are not accessible because of vertical brise-soleil; you can access outside there only from the adjacent rooms.
The Second Drawer
The second “drawer” includes a master bedroom: the entrance opens into the walk-in wardrobe which leads in turn to the bedroom. This last overlooks the “drawer” of greenery thanks an entire glazed wall; a door at the end of the room separates it from the bathroom.
The Third Drawer
In the third “drawer” down the corridor there are a single bedroom, a double bedroom, a bathroom, a dressing room and a storeroom.
All the windows are organized to face a wall and not a window.
Finally, the same cascade of green branches also protects the south-west side, although they are not accessible due to the small distance between the walls of the “drawers” and the enclosure itself.
The Oriental Culture
It is possible to see the typical elements of eastern architectural culture by carefully observing the residence: as an example, the presence of the pond in the garden of many traditional houses is here revamped in a modern way. The clarity of the interior spaces is appreciable thanks to the invisible control of an imaginary grid, the “drawers” have almost the same size and are aligned in a pretty neat plan indeed.
White is the predominant colour, with black details on the borders and the columns of the living room, while the furniture is in dark wood. The large windows allow the eye to flow between inside and outside, as if there are no borders, and they’re characterized by the bridal creeper’s bright green branches, a climbing plant native to south-eastern Africa which produces small white flowers, acting as curtains falling from the ceiling.
The climate control is one of the MIA Design Studio strengths, which owes its success to designing the environmental comfort with style. In this particular case, it makes use of both the brise-soleil’s little curtains and the bridal-veil creeper’s branches – characterized by small shiny leaves – to filter the light and protect the space from the tropical sun typical of South Vietnam.
In particular, the branches also fall on the walls, allowing them to keep their freshness more easily. Furthermore, the “Drawers” of green interlard with the residential spaces, fostering the ventilation.
Another peculiarity of the project is the white overhanging roof that protrudes for about two meters out of the facades’ limit, both to protect the corridor – which is external, between the “Drawers” and the enclosure, but so protected as to act as internal space – and to screen and shade the large glass facade of the living area.
The pond at the entrance has not only aesthetic value, but the water cools the air through evaporation.
The MIA Design Studio clearly designed the Drawers House right, according to the Vietnamese climate.
Would you be able to apply the same eco-friendly solutions to your country? If not, what would your choices be?
Full Project Credits For The Drawers House:
Design Firm: MIA DESIGN STUDIO
Client: Mr. Tuan
Project Location: Vung Tau, Viet Nam
Lead Architect: Architect Nguyen Hoang Manh
Concept Architects: Architect Nguyen Hoang Manh, Nguyen Quoc Long, Nguyen Van Thien
Technical Design: Architect Bui Hoang Bao
Construction Drawing: Architect Nguyen Thi Mai Phuong
Interior Design: Steven Baeteman, Lu Minh Khang
Completion Date: June 2016
Photographer: Hirouyki Oki
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