Recently, the American newspaper Insider published an article about the ‘tube house’ architecture in Hanoi. According to author Amanda Goh, the street here draws visitors through a special type of house, often referred to as a ‘tube house’ by the locals.
The typical tube houses in the streets of the capital of Vietnam are painted in different colors and can be no less than 2 meters wide.
According to Mr. Dinh Quoc Phuong, director of the Interior Architecture Program at Swinburne University of Technology, tubular houses are one of the most popular types of architecture in Vietnam today.
“Old tube houses were built before 1954, usually have two floors, later extended with narrow facades of 2-5 meters. Still on that old ground, today’s tube houses are built higher, even up to 12 stories,” said Mr. Phuong.
According to some historical records, the “tube house” type originated in the old quarters of Hanoi. This area is a hub for trade and commerce. Each street is named after the items commonly sold there, such as Hang Bac street (selling jewelry, gold and silver) or Hang Gai street (selling silk).
Unlike other places, the “tube house” in the old town area, in addition to living, is also a place for trade, conducting commercial transactions and is extremely important for households.
“With a multi-storey design, tube houses are often inhabited by several generations in a family,” said Mai Hung Trung, the architect who initiated Hanoi Ad Hoc – a study of Hanoi’s urban landscape.
According to Mr. Trung, until now it is still possible to find houses that are the residences of 5 or 6 different families in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
Despite the fact that they have a narrow facade, tube houses are often very deep. There are houses that can be up to 100 meters deep. Speaking about the design origins of this type of house, Mr. Trung said that many theories have been put forward.
Firstly, this architectural style can be shaped by expensive land prices. As the population density increases, the government is forced to collect facade levies on the main streets, causing people to try to shrink the facade. But as the number of family members increases, they need space and are forced to build from within.
Mr Trung said, “In the inner city, land is as precious as gold. Street houses used to be one of the measures to judge the wealth of the people”.
Old tube houses often have a courtyard to let in light and act as a ‘skylight’ for natural ventilation. This is also a common place where family members gather.
Recently, many tube houses have also been designed in a “neoclassical” style, such as those from the French colonial period.
But regardless of its origin, author Amanda Goh confirmed that in addition to motorcycles, “tube houses” are one of the hallmarks of Vietnamese streets, helping to shape the country’s urban landscape.