A critical regionalist approach to housing design in Vietnam : socio-environmental organisation of living spaces in pre- and post-reform houses

Ly, Phuong The (2012) A critical regionalist approach to housing design in Vietnam : socio-environmental organisation of living spaces in pre- and post-reform houses. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Vietnam has a unique culture which is revealed in the way that people have built and designed their traditional housing. Vietnamese dwellings reflect occupants’ activities in their everyday lives, while adapting to tropical climatic conditions impacted by seasoning monsoons. It is said that these characteristics of Vietnamese dwellings have remained unchanged until the economic reform in 1986, when Vietnam experienced an accelerated development based on the market-oriented economy. New housing types, including modern shop-houses, detached houses, and apartments, have been designed in many places, especially satisfying dwellers’ new lifestyles in Vietnamese cities. The contemporary housing, which has been mostly designed by architects, has reflected rules of spatial organisation so that occupants’ social activities are carried out. However, contemporary housing spaces seem unsustainable in relation to socio-cultural values because they has been influenced by globalism that advocates the use of homogeneous spatial patterns, modern technologies, materials and construction methods.

This study investigates the rules of spaces in Vietnamese houses that were built before and after the reform to define the socio-cultural implications in Vietnamese housing design. Firstly, it describes occupants’ views of their current dwellings in terms of indoor comfort conditions and social activities in spaces. Then, it examines the use of spaces in pre-reform Vietnamese housing through occupants’ activities and material applications. Finally, it discusses the organisation of spaces in both pre- and post-reform housing to understand how Vietnamese housing has been designed for occupants to live, act, work, and conduct traditional activities.

Understanding spatial organisation is a way to identify characteristics of the lived spaces of the occupants created from the conceived space, which is designed by designers. The characteristics of the housing spaces will inform the designers the way to design future Vietnamese housing in response to cultural contexts.

The study applied an abductive approach for the investigation of housing spaces. It used a conceptual framework in relation to Henri Lefebvre’s (1991) theory to understand space as the main factor constituting the language of design, and the principles of semiotics to examine spatial structure in housing as a language used in the everyday life. The study involved a door-knocking survey to 350 households in four regional cities of Vietnam for interpretation of occupancy conditions and levels of occupants’ comfort. A statistical analysis was applied to interpret the survey data. The study also required a process of data selection and collection of fourteen cases of housing in three main climatic regions of the country for analysing spatial organisation and housing characteristics.

The study found that there has been a shift in the relationship of spaces from the pre- to post-reform Vietnamese housing. It also indentified that the space for guest welcoming and family activity has been the central space of the Vietnamese housing. Based on the relationships of the central space with the others, theoretical models were proposed for three types of contemporary Vietnamese housing. The models will be significant in adapting to Vietnamese conditions to achieve socioenvironmental characteristics for housing design because it was developed from the occupants’ requirements for their social activities. Another contribution of the study is the use of methodological concepts to understand the language of living spaces.

Further work will be needed to test future Vietnamese housing designs from the applications of the models.

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ID Code: 56677
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Lawson, Gillian, Adkins, Barbara, & Demirbilek, Nur
Keywords: critical regionalism, language of space, organisation of space, pre- and post-reform housing, relationship of space, spatial model, Vietnamese housing
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 25 Jan 2013 01:15
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:47

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