What can I do to help as an Interior Designer?!




Here is the mapping of development for my MA project, and also the summary of what I am going to build in my design career. From now on, I know I will not be only an interior designer, but also a business designer, an investor, a researcher for green building solutions for my own projects. It takes time, year after years or even all my life time.

Working experience and the current context of social reality show that investors in Vietnam today do not care much about the benefits of green spaces can bring to living space for residents. The housing market for low income and middle income people are lacking of scientific researches and serious investments. For real estate investors, they only care about how many area of the land and the building will be sold or used for living space. They are not interested in development of green spaces, the natural environment and the surrounding community of the buildings/projects, or their impacts on health and quality of life of residents living in and near by.

Many times, I have asked myself why not? If I believe that the journey I am going on and things I am doing and protecting are right and good and can change a lot of people`s lives, natural environment in my community, in my country and even maybe around the world in a good way.. If my work will create new jobs for the local community, attract new business, reduce product costs, especially, create a comfortable living environment for people… Yes, why not?! But I also know that if I just stand on my position as only an interior designer, it could be very difficult for me to convince investors about green building development projects, especially quite hard in the current context of Vietnam today. So why not? If I can be not only an interior designer, but also a nature lover, and the investor for my own “green” projects. Yes. Why not?
From now on, I know my life will be completely changed by many challenges and opportunities forward. But I am not afraid. Whenever thinking about it, I find myself full of energy and motivation for the small steps, and the further steps forward. One by one, I will make these become reality one day!

Design for your climate

The basic rule is that in cold climates we should aim to keep heat in (with insulation) and in hot climates we need to keep the sun out (with shading and light colours). The different construction methods, planning factors (location of rooms, etc.), form, orientation and natural heating/cooling techniques all will depend on the local climate.

Hot-dry climate


Cold climate

Cold-winter/hot-summer climate

Temperate climate

Hot-humid climate: Less walls, more life — design in the tropics

Design solutions for architecture in the tropics: Use more movable partitions, take maximum advantage of light from the roof, use less space, consume less energy, and maximize flexible indoor/outdoor spaces to create places that will bring us joy, cost us less and increase our interaction with the natural environment and community.

Some rules to reduce energy for houses IV

12. We are an indoor species

We spend about 90% of our time inside buildings. We use mainly fossil-fuel-derived energy to maintain comfort conditions within those buildings, and the production of that energy results in the release of CO2, a greenhouse gas linked with global warming and climate change. Unless we revert to being a mainly outdoor species, we must reduce our energy use.

Free heating, cooling, lighting in housing:

  • Free heating: direct, isolated and indirect solar gain
  • Free cooling: using earth, wind and water
  • Free lighting: daylight
  • Color

– In hot climate, keep the earth around a building cool.

– With shading, a pond on the roof will keep the building cool.

-Pipe in air that has been cooled by the earth.


-Use daylight to reduce energy use. We should aim to capture daylight and put it to use where it is needed. A day-lighting strategy might save up to 40% of energy consumption over an artificial lighting scheme.


A room will appear gloomy if more than 50% of the working place is beyond the line.


For the right amount of daylight you need the right size of window.


A tall window throws daylight deep into a room


Daylight is more plentiful overhead


Use roof-lights to bring daylight into large spaces

A room with dark interior finishes will need almost twice the window area of a light-colored reflective room, and this increase heat loss and/or heat gain. The further the window is from a room`s rear wall, the higher the reflectance of the finishes will need to be if there is no artificial lighting.


Exterior color influences energy use

A black wall or roof will absorb up to 20 times the solar energy of one which is white. In climates with cool/cold winters, darker absorptive solar-oriented roofs and facades will be good for heat gain. In hot desert regions, where solar intensity is high, white building will always be favoured.

Keep it simple

Building occupants will ignore complex controls and systems. Over time, they will forget how a building works. However people feel more comfortable when they have some control of their environment, so low energy-use architecture needs to be intuitive and simple.

13. Recover and reuse valuable heat

In a heating season (a winter in temperature and cool climates), heat generated in spaces such as kitchens and bathrooms can be recovered rather than expelled, and the heat exchanged with incoming fresh air, which, now warmed, is recirculated to where it is needed. Such systems need a well insulated and airtight envelope. In large complex buildings where some rules for natural ventilation might not be applicable, the whole building might adopt year-round mechanical ventilation with heat recovery.

14. Rules for single-sided ventilation


15. Rules for crossing ventilation


Some rules to reduce energy for houses III

7. Learn from the locals


Indigenous, or vernacular, architecture tends to provide thermal comfort using limited, local resources and energy. Lessons may be learned from both the past and the present where populations live modestly, in tune with their climate and region. Always consider the local vernacular for clues about how buildings perform. Work with, not against, the forces of nature.

8. Summer shading – solutions for solar-oriented facades

The designer has a range of solutions to choose from when considering how to reduce or eliminate the potential for unwanted solar gains. Use external, not internal, shading devices as this prevents the sun`s rays from entering the building. Some solutions are:


9. Summer shading – solutions for east – and west-facing facades

The problem is different for east-and west-facing openings. The sun is low in the sky, but it still might be strong. Some solutions are:

  • vertical fins
  • vertical ‘garden’


10. Compact building use less energy

The greater the surface area of a building envelope, the more energy will be needed to overcome heat losses. A sphere has the smallest surface area by volume of any form, in regions where winter heating is needed, a sprawling single-storey building might use 25% more energy than a compact two-storey cube of the same floor area because it has a greater surface area through which heat is lost. A slightly elongated solar-oriented form provide the best balance between heat loss and beneficial solar gain.


11. A green roof protects against heat loss

A thick green roof (500mm or more) will have a high thermal mass, so it will slow the passage of heat by 12 hours or more. It will also need to be insulated, so it will aid significantly in reducing heat loss through the roof. Thin green roofs (150mm of soil) will support only limited planting and 1m deep soil will be needed for small trees.



Some rules to reduce energy for houses II

4. Provide shelter from wind and rain:


Wind and rain reduce the temperature of the building envelope, leading to the need for additional energy to heat the interior in cool climates and seasons. Roof overhangs can provide protection from rain. Windbreaks can take a number of forms, all of which can become architectural devices in a design:

  • Trees
  • Hedges
  • Fences
  • Garden walls
  • Courtyards

5. Built form can be used for wind protection:


Surrounding buildings and walls can be effectively employed as windbreaks. Unlike many large modern cities, medieval town plans and those of mountain villages that are subject to extreme winds do not have a regular grid of streets through which wind has unobstructed access. The direct passage of the wind is impeded by using build form as a barrier.

6. A western tree belt can provide shade from the late afternoon sun


A carefully positioned tree belt on the western boundaries of a building can give protection from the significant heat of the late-afternoon summer sun. Care needs to be taken to ensure that the winter sun`s beneficial heat is not also blocked if working in temperate and cold climate zones. An eastern tree belt will also be beneficial in hot climates, where the morning sun is a powerful force.

Some rules to reduce energy for houses I

1. The wind break will halve the wind speed and lead to reduced cooling of the building envelope.

A windbreak, or shelter belt, will significantly influence the wind. Locating a building on the leeward side of a well-designed can result in energy savings of 15% to 20% because cooling of the building envelope is reduced. Position the building within 5 times the height of the wind break. Remember you will want to permit, not block, the passage of breezes in tropical regions.

2. The presence of water is a free source of cooling:


A body of water, such as a lake or the sea, will influence air temperature and humidity. Water that has been exposed to the night sky in summer will cool the breeze that passes over it during warm days. Site a building such that water-cooled breezes can be directed into it. Daytime on shore sea breezes should be put to use by orienting buildings towards the sea in humid and warm climates and seasons.

3. Trees can provide summer shading and allow winter solar gains:


Trees can be useful shading devices. Deciduous trees can block up to 85% of the sun radiation in summer. In winter without leaves, they permit up to 70% of the sun`s energy to pass between their bare branches. However, it would take a very large tree to almost fully shade a solar-oriented facade in summer, and proximity to trees and tree roots might bring other problems for both building and tree.

Hue Traditional Garden House in Vietnam


If architecture is considered as a part of nature, then the building must achieve the harmony with ecological environment. Hue traditional house of Vietnam often contains small gardens. These often fulfill fengshui needs and aims to create a harmonious atmosphere of living environment. The features of Hue traditional garden house (HTGH) are introduced and prove the climate adaptation of it.


The art of catching the breeze by the alley, screen and basin:


1) Site selection has e a great influence to the house’s characters. The best orientation for ho t humid climate housing is north south. The main façade face south to catch the breeze from south in summer and avoid wind in winter.

2) Trees plant around the house with different height in order to create different pressure control flow and wind velocity. Besides that, the vegetation improves microclimate by reducing heat radiation and support shade. It also depends on kind of tree choice direction and altitude of sun.

3) Water body should locate at the advantage wind direction such as south due to cool by evaporation.

4) House in hot humid climate usually has elongated, extending along east west. The wall in west and east is usually solid to avoid radiation. Main house of HTGH in an evident to see it can extend the length easily.

5) Thick roof with thermal insulation material like clay and slope 30 degrees would be easy for reduction heat radiation and rainwater drainage.

6) Space underneath roof should have vents for wind transferring to avoid termite wood with high moisture condition.

7) Veranda is a very important factor for house in hot humid zone. Effective shade depends on the wide of 8 IACSIT International Journal of Engineering and Technology, Vol. 5, No. 1, February 2013 veranda. It is also the thermal mass into the house.

8) Wide eaves keep the sun from attacking wall or window directly; also avoid the precipitation fall in wall.

9) A solution for the house with timber structure in flooding area is putting the columns on the rock mass. The columns raised way protects the timber away ground moisture and subterranean termites.

10) Yin-yang door design creates semi-closed space; it is a good condition for ventilation. Air is always clean and flow to avoid pollution and humidity.

As a result, these elements provide a data for traditional architecture application in modern house. However, HTGH also have some limitation for daily life. Therefore, it is necessary for making changes to adapt this traditional architectural methods of our ancestor to the modern architecture of Vietnam nowadays while maintaining the traditional features.

The Unique Characteristics of Hue Traditional Garden House



Beauty of the special houses of Ha Nhi ethnic minority people in the Northwest of Vietnam

Coming to Kin Chu Phin village, you will be excited with the mysterious beauty of Trinh Tuong houses.

Trinh Tuong house has just one small and low door, surrounding the house having tiny windows for getting the light, the cool of summer and for preventing from the cold in winter.

Kin Chu Phin is a village of Ha Nhi ethnic minority (one of the smallest minorities in Vietnam) which is located in a very far and high place in Nam Pung commune, Bat Xat district, Lao Cai province. It is far from the centre of the commune about 13 km, lines deep inside down the valley with a mountainous area with 1000m above the sea level. Kin Chu Phin has its self the cool climate all year round, ice and snow here in winter. To prevent from the cold, Ha Nhi community has built soil houses with thick and tight walls, or being called Trinh Tuong house (house with walls being made of soil) or having the other name Mushroom house (it looks like giant shape of mushrooms).

Method of making Trinh Tuong house is very particular. Before building a house, the men of the family will find out a good day and plot of land then prepare boiled chicken and sticky rice for worshipping. According to their custom, during process of making house, the women and strangers are not allowed to approach.

Foundation is ranged with large stones, placed right on flat soil without having to dig deep inside the soil, and then use formworks braced as pouring concrete. For having four firm walls as steel, bullet-proof, they have to choose mountainous soil with high adhesion.

Walls are usually from 40 to 45 cm thick, put with small stones deep inside. Soil is filled into formworks braced then uses wooden pestle pounding strongly till being adhesive. Normally, each house has its height of 5 or 6 level of formwork and takes them nearly one month to complete.

Rammed walls surrounding, they use some kinds of wood to make the frame inside, after that connecting wooden beams and rafters together for roofing. Trinh Tuong house has no balcony and steep roof; roof is made with straw grass. Each house has its large from 65 to 80 m2.

Recently, many families roof with tin in stead of straw grass because of usefulness. However, the traditional houses have still kept their original feature, custom and culture of northwest mountainous area.


“The best time to witness the scenic beauty of Sapa is in April and May. Before that period, the weather might be cold and foggy; after that period is the rainy season. In April and May, Sapa is blooming with flowers and green pastures. The clouds that settle in the valley in early morning quickly disappear into thin air.
Sapa is most beautiful in spring. Apricot, plum and cherry flowers are splendidly beautiful. Markets are crowded and merry, and are especially attractive to visitors. Minority groups come here to exchange and trade goods and products. Market sessions are also a chance for locals to promenade and young men and women in colorful costumes to meet, date or seek sweethearts.” – ST

Focus on local materials and local building techniques

One day in 2013, I had a chance to attend a lecture of an English architect in my previous University of Architecture in Ho Chi Minh city. I finished the university and was working for a Construction company then. During his talk, he shared a lot of great architectural philosophies about hospitality projects and one of the best things I still remember until these days is about his emphasis on local building materials and local building techniques. And his talk had totally changed my life and my thinking about what I am doing in my design work. Being a good designer is not enough. The mission of modern architects and designers must be good designers with deep sense of humility and responsibility for our community around us, climate change and a better planet for our next generations in future.

Besides absorbing new building techniques around the world, as modern designers and architects, we should take preservation, study and development on building techniques of our ancients and the native architectural identity as a mission.

Here is Nam Dam Homestay and Community House / 1+1>2 Architects in Vietnam.

“The Swallow Community House and Homestay: The iconic building of the village, showing innovation spirit while keeping local identity. This two-floor house with functions as the space for meetings, local & tourist activities with a small museum and 5 bedrooms. Verandas, voids and beveled folding roof resembling the Swallows’ wing – the bird believed to bring luck – make the inner space full of natural light.

Construction methods: Integrating between traditional an modern construction techniques, maximizing local materials (rammed earth wall and timber structure);
- The foundation is constructed from local natural stone.
- The 1st floor: The 80cm thick earth wall is rammed directly on the stone foundation. It plays an important role in preventing erosion, resisting the risk of scrubbing and also keeping the indoor space warm in winter and cool in summer. Inside the building, the wall surface is coated by a mixture of earth and additives in order to enhance the strength, prevent cracking and keep the surfaces clean.”

Nam Dam Homestay and Community House / 1+1>2 Architects








The house within a vegetable garden.

The house within a vegetable garden.

Baan Rai I Arun resort is an extremely interesting model of farm-homestay. It is a combination of unique architecture, vegetable gardens, fresh nature and the homey feeling of a home. The name itself reveals most of the significances of this place. In Thai, “Baan” means house, “Rai” is farm, “I” is fog, “Arun” is a new dawn. This is the home where you can see the dawn and the morning dew drops on leaves in every early morning.

Reportedly, that is the idea of a young architect Viroj Chimme which was built in his hometown. The homesickness for the family and his mother and his passion for architecture made his dream gradually become reality. A “giant” garden, living spaces and nature blend in an amazing harmony where he spends the rest of his life for his family. Rooting from this idea, Baan Rai I Arun have been developed into a homestay resort. Waking up in the morning, visitors would be overwhelmed by sunshine dancing on the vegetable beds and meals are cooked with iingredients of fresh vegetables harvested from the garden. Here, chaos, stress of modern life seems to be disappearing.12189663-500865973406247-1979556518261097930-n-1457187087263