In Saigon, there is a story about Van Duong Phu, a masterpiece of architecture, built by Mr. Vuong Hong Sen, a culturist, an academic, and a famous collector of antiques. Moreover, he also had a deep knowledge of southern Vietnam and wrote many books about Saigon.
At the end of his life, he wanted to dedicate his house to a museum in order to prevent the antiques from being stolen and to introduce Saigon’s culture to visitors.
However, after his death, the house was abandoned, and its spirit was totally lost. We’ve recognized that although being respected and successful in his works, he failed in passing his love to his family.
The owner of Saigon house is one who loves Saigon. She hates living in a Western houses, which have become popular in the city. She wants the house to be a gathering place for her brothers and sisters, those who used to live under the same roof, and a meeting place for grandparents and their kids.
Moreover, inspired by the Van Duong Phu story, she would like this house to be the place where she can share her memories about the furniture to kids so that they know how to cherish the place where they grow up. Therefore, kids are the main factors that we aimed towards, we wanted to make a strong Saigon characteristic place so that they can be familiar with this place and the adult, as the activator, through stories, to help raising the love in kids.
Saigon used to be known for slope roofs, courtyards and flowering balconies. Moreover, it is also well known with alleys that is full with coloring blocks in rich materials. This is not only the place for communication but also a playground for kids. These are chaotic but deep in culture.
Saigon house also features coloring blocks floating in the common area which are all covered by a steel frame that later wil be overgrown by plants. The spaces are small enough for them to do their private activities, otherwise, they easily get attracted by the sounds, images from outside and get out to connect with others.
And the common area functions as an alley, where family members interact and build relationships, where they can experience the changing days, changing seasons. Those are very rare in the modern society, which lacks love, communication and nature.
Furthermore, the house is shaped by the furniture, items collected by the architect and owner. Most of them are from demolished houses in Saigon.
Aside from the beauty of old things, we also found the spirits of the second hand items, those which have their own stories and reasons for rebirth in the places where they need them most. And these are being carried to the kids through stories, activities in the house, to cherish their house more.
The loss of Van Duong Phu is not the only loss of Saigon. It can happened to anyone, anywhere and at anytime, the loss of old good things that we tried to save for our children. As designers, we would like to use our architecture, the house in this case, as material and spiritual value that can be maintained by loves of the ones who live in it.