Tan Phu House: Multi-generation row house

Residential / 1st Quarter 2022

Tan Phu House: Multi-generation row house

March 17, 2022

Section showing interior space


The row house—an ever-present characteristic of Asian city settlements—is one of the most economical structures that could populate an area. They are made out of several buildings of similar appearance; built upon a uniform grid; arrayed to share common walls; and with spaces that are longer than they are wide to maximise access towards street frontage.

RELATED: Adapting Vietnam’s Urban Street House to High-Rise Apartments

These narrow buildings are commonly used as shophouses and home offices, as the ground level serves as an interface for public activity while the upper levels retain a degree of separation: often, only the façade interacts with the outside world. But in Tan Phu House, the architects have varied the spatial arrangement to free up the narrow space—making this a lively home fit for a tight-knit family of three generations.


Vertical circulation is an important design consideration for tight buildings, because its placement would immediately determine the flow of space. To decide how the row house would be vertically punctured by voids, the architects began by observing the existing conditions of the site: the sun path and existing trees.

Considering the southeast orientation of the façade, they placed voids at both ends of the building. A gap behind the façade is suffused with greenery, which serves to control the intensity of light and filter dust from the street, while the rear area is designed with hanging gardens on balconies. These voids stretch across all four levels, ensuring that each floor receives morning sunlight and an uninterrupted flow of air. According to the architects, “The house is always full of light, so [the residents] rarely use electric lights in the morning and the use of air-conditioners is also reduced.”


The grandparents, parents and children all live in this house—a living arrangement typical of Asian families. To foster the relationship among the family members, common spaces on each floor are designed to connect them through various activities. The ground level hosts the kitchen and dining area, adjacent to the grandmother’s room, which opens up to the back garden.

Above it, the living room overlooks the study and the children’s bedroom, creating an area of activity for the whole family. The more private area on the third level hosts the parents’ bedroom, with a bathroom and laundry space that are sky-lit to combat humidity—as well as using solar power for water heating.

The steel doors used throughout the house were custom-made by local craftspeople: folding, revolving and split doors have been selected accordingly for each space, and considering the characteristics of each user.

Floor plans

Model showing the spatial division and natural lighting

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Project Name
Tan Phu House

Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Completion Date
March 2020

Site Area
64 square metres

Gross Floor Area
270 square metres

Building Height
14 metres

Architecture Firm
k59 atelier

Principal Architects
Phan Lam Nhat Nam; Tran Cam Linh

Main Contractor
Cencons Construction & Supplier

k59 atelier

This article is part of our series on Vietnam Focus. Read more from this issue:

[COMMENTARY] Adapting Vietnam’s Urban Street House to High-Rise Apartments

[PROJECT] Hong Ha Eco City

[PROJECT] The Nest Modular Housing

Read more stories from FuturArc 1Q 2022: Housing Asia!

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