Studios such as Tropical Space are paving the way for sustainable design in Vietnam

A throng of bystanders have already gathered, joined by a few on motorbikes who can’t help but stop and stare at the surprising, boxy brick structure. The object of their fixation is the Termitary House – a family home set on a nondescript, dusty residential road in Da Nang, a short scooter ride away from the endless stretches of powder-sand beaches.

The Termitary House was initially conceived as a passion project to test the limits of cost-effective and sustainable design. Ho Chi Minh-based architect Nguyen Hai Long of Tropical Space and his partner in business and life, Tran Thi Ngu Ngon, conjured up the ingenious idea of building a home inspired by a termite nest. The grid-like pattern of the bricks allows for a natural ventilation system, so the house maintains a consistent cool despite the tropical heat, and is constantly bathed in sunlight during the daytime. Sliding glass panels encase the home to ward off the wind and rain, all without taking away from the design.

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The pendant lights were made with affordable industrial materials found at a building supplies shop. Though there are gaps between each brick, it’s impossible to see inside from the road ensuring privacy.

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The four poster bed in the parents’ room was made from reclaimed wood. The residents embrace a minimalist lifestyle, with only a few pieces of furniture and appliances.

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Wood salvaged from the previous home that stood on this land was used to make the built-in shelving and cabinetry in the kitchen.

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The interlocking grid pattern provides natural ventilation, reducing the home’s carbon footprint while also letting light in. The garden is a real draw – here, the family grows exotic flowers, plants and vegetables.

Photography: Edgar Tapan
Styling: Soraya Froissart