July 18, 2022
Vietnam’s Cuckoo House Reinvents the Shophouse Typology
Cuckoo House, made from local clay bricks, features a myriad of structural ornamentation, such as semi-circle elliptical windows, wood shuttered double doors (evoking the imagery of a Cuckoo Clock, one of the inspirations behind the home), and lattice brickwork which allows for the home to “breathe,” circumventing the need for thick walls and air conditioning. A breeze comes through a wide corridor on the ground floor and balconies that extend into the structure’s indoor spaces offer natural ventilation and daylight, which helps form lively patterns of light and shadow on the brick walls and concrete floor.
The design of various corridors and passageways provides both tension and unity to the ground floor’s communal space and the upper-level home. Ground floor amenities feature an enclosed garden framed by seating. Adjacent to the family-run café is a walled enclosure with archways that form a sporadic pattern of variously shaped windows on the building’s facade. This open seating arrangement allows café guests to feel as though they are being welcomed into someone’s home.
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Overlooking the communal space, the three two-story blocks that make up the home are connected through materiality. Connected by an outdoor staircase, Block A accommodates a master bedroom, Block B hosts children’s bedrooms and a living room, and Block C houses a dining room and kitchen. Open to the elements, the passageways between them act as buffer spaces that encourage one to go outside, leaving the boundaries between indoor and outdoor, public and private, completely fluid. Evolving beyond typical definitions of a home or commercial space, the Cuckoo House blends a regional icon with answers to global ecological problems beautifully.
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