Abandoned Building to Garden Home: Fresh Renovation in Saigon



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Normally, when you see trees growing out the windows of a building, that’s a sure sign of neglect, with nature taking back over spaces that have been abandoned by humans. But while this former museum in Saigon stood vacant before being reclaimed as a residence, the greenery that springs from its street-facing facade today is purposeful, an outward sign of the vibrant multi-generational family home that it has become.

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Vietnam-based architecture firm a21studio approached this project with nuance and sensitivity, preserving most of the original structure, which was built by a famous collector of antiques named Vuong Hong Sen. The client wanted a place where her extended family could gather, giving children lots of places to play and explore and reflecting the particular flavor of the neighborhood.

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It’s hard to tell which elements of the home are original and which have been altered; small brightly painted structures with tile roofs punctuate each level within the enclosed space, some with their own balconies. These appear to serve as private bedrooms, while the sky-lit atrium offers common spaces planted with small trees.

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It certainly looks like a fun place to play, with all of its nooks and crannies, not to mention a hammock-like net floor allowing the branches of the trees to reach upward. The result feels one-of-a-kind and particular to the city, just as the owner wished.

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