Architect Mel Schenck designed this house in Tân Phú, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam for himself and his family to act as an experimental expression of the complicated information age and an analysis of simplicity to reduce energy usage via natural ventilation rather than depending on air conditioning. A large proportion of the exterior facades contain openings to let the natural light and breeze flow through, taking advantage of Vietnam’s tropical climate, which encourages indoor and outdoor activities.
To counter what housing in Vietnam had become — “caves” as air conditioning became cheaper and doors and windows remained closed — the house has louver glass windows at the tops of all exterior and interior cross-walls to allow ventilation throughout the house as well as up the open stairway. The louver windows can be closed for air conditioning, however air conditioning is rarely needed as the natural breezes move through the house all of the time.
In this house, a steel grid envelops the home at the outside of all balconies, allowing windows and doors to remain open at all times if desired, and extend the rooms to include the balconies. This design element gives of the feeling of living in a bird cage instead of jail cells, as most Vietnamese homes use steel grids or screens on the inside of all windows and doors.
This combined use of the splayed balcony edges on each floor and the steel security screens express the randomness, amorphousness and dissonance of the information age, all contained within a simple design methods.