Say you want some greenery, but also need to block light and noise and desire somewhat cleaner air than the clogged streets naturally provide. In certain climates, the answer to these various problems can be found in the form of living walls – but few as amazing as this unusually tall house in Vietnam.

Saigon is a dense city packed with plant life wherever one can find space – rooftops, balconies, windows and courtyards can become overgrown in the leftover cracks in the urban fabric.

This kind of organization-of-chaos approach looks at once organic and highly planned – in fact, the varying depth of space between strips of planters on the front and rear facades are dictated by the height needs of the plants situated in each row. The net effect is quite lovely, even without the greenery.

Designed by Vietnamese firm Vo Trong Nghia (photos by Hiroyuki Oki), the building takes the cramped site (just 12 feet wide) and works with it, creating-but-filtering floor-to-ceiling openings at either end, then tucking lovely hardwood-floored, stoned-sided interiors in between.

More from the architects

“Whoever wanders around Saigon, a chaotic city with the highest density of population in the world, can easily find flower-pots cramped and displayed here and there all around the streets. This interesting custom has formed the amused character of Saigon over a long period of time and Saigonese love their life with a large variety of tropical plants and flowers in their balconies, courtyards and streets.”

“The house structure is a RC frame structure widely used in Vietnam. The partition walls are very few in order to keep interior fluency and view of green façades from every point of the house. During the day we get the varying light with the time of day trimmed by the top-light in the center. In the morning and the afternoon, the sunlight enters through the amount of leafs on both façades, creating beautiful shadow effects on the granite walls, which are composed of strictly stacked 2cm stones.”