See How This Compact Home in Vietnam Makes the Most of 194 Square Feet

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Along a cul-de-sac in the densely populated Vietnamese capital of Ho Chi Minh City, a 194-square-foot plot slotted tightly between two other buildings becomes the site for a family's bright and lofty home.

Created by KHUÔN Studio in collaboration with architect Phan Khac Tung, this compact home broke the convention of being built around a single vertical core. Instead, it works around the site's height restrictions to create three floors (a mezzanine level, reading loft, and terrace). 

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By creating a system of staircases that run along the periphery of the house, the architects fully utilized the spaces underneath the stairs for storage and bathrooms. 

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By designing a series of periphery staircases rather than a single staircase in the middle of the property, a lot of vertical space was freed up, which created room for a bunk bed and reading loft on the upper levels.

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Simple white railings give the staircases a light, free-floating quality. At a later stage when their children begin to walk, the owners plan to add rope nets for safety. 

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To bring nature into the house’s cramped urban context, the architects incorporated planters with verdant greenery outside the windows of the master bedroom and reading loft. They also added a variety of potted plants throughout the home and planted a small vegetable garden on the roof deck. 

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The facade of the house, which faces the alley, was designed with a system made up of long and narrow vertical-slit windows. 

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These slit windows make up about 50 percent of the washed-terrazzo facade. Each individual window can be opened or closed separately to help control ventilation in the house.

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These slit windows provide privacy for the family while still allowing plenty of daylight to penetrate the interiors. 

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For the bedroom, where the eastern sun is strong in the mornings, the architects doubled the thickness of the exterior walls. They also used diagonal walls to help deflect the sun's rays. 

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These two solutions help keep the bedroom cool and free from the sun's glare in the morning, especially during the hot summer months. 

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Above the parking area on the ground floor is a double-height entrance foyer. The architects deliberately included extra volume here so that if needed, a loft extension can be incorporated into the double-height foyer in the future. 

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According to the project's design team, architecture should add comfort to people’s lives—no matter how large or small their home is, or where they live. 

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Project Credits: 

 - Architecture: KHUÔN Studio & Phan Khac Tung 

- Interior design: KHUÔN Studio

- Builder: 86 Construction Company

- Structural engineering: Do Thanh Tuan