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AA Visiting School - Tropicality

Nhà (house, building) Tù (prison, stagnant) Lỏng (soft, fluidity, thin, loose)

Hieu is 57 year olds, he is living in a small wooden house in district 4 of Ho Chi Minh City. He was born in this house. All of his brothers went to America after the Vietnam war, he stayed. He used to drive French diplomats, now he runs his business from his house. He compares his house to a soft prison.

The house, the car, objects of memory, and solid justifications and rationalisations act as frames for him; as a system for orientation of the self and to give meaning to decisions, behaviors and beliefs. His soft prison is consciously constructed to obscure regret, internal conflict and contradictions; to contain a struggle between the will for mobility and the necessity of stability, between risk of the open and the security of self-imposed enclosed.

– Xuan Man Nguyen, Pham Than, Stan Turcon


Tropicality seeked to ‘lift the veil of innocence’ surrounding narratives of the domestic space. We was expose patterns, struggles and resistance through architectural stories about identity, place and home. Our immersion into Ho Chi Minh City’s (Saigon) multiverse of stories begun in the role of forensic investigator to set out to rouse personal stories of the home. Based on material and social observations, insights and recorded stories,
we composed our own story about the connections between architecture, identity, and place. This workshop as an experiment which cultivate extraordinary architectural insights through a creative study of the tropical domestic space, honed my compositional abilities and revaluate my definitions and understandings of what Vietnamese architecture is and does.

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