If you were to look at the animal kingdom for architectural inspiration, termites would perhaps be the last species to make it to the list. The architects of Termitary House in Vietnam, however, were influenced by the way termites build their homes and you’d be surprised to see the end result. The 1506-square-feet home built over a total site area of 2045-square-feet has been designed by architects Nguyen Hai Long and Tran Thi Ngu Ngon of Tropical Space Co. Ltd along with the design team comprising Phan Quang Vinh and Trinh Thanh Tu.
Termites are rather humble builders with minimal tools at their disposal. “Just their bodies, soil, and saliva,” the lead architects tell us. “For guidance, they have nothing except the variations in wind speed and the fluctuations in temperature as the sun rises and sets,” they add. The Termitary House was built in the coastal Vietnamese city of Da Nang—a region known for extreme weather, and in particular, tropical storms. Taking cues from the climate and location, the house has been constructed in a manner that allows it to brave the extreme weather—be it the harsh summer or the torrential rains.
The house features at its centre, a common area with a cooking counter, dining table and an entertainment counter. From here, the living room and bedrooms can be accessed. The design—layers of brick walls with gaps—can be observed here. This distinct structure serves two purposes—the ‘holes’ act as vents and promote air circulation, while the outer wall layer acts as a buffer against strong winds during heavy storms.
The mezzanine floor features the bedroom, an altar room and a small library. The unique structure of the walls allow natural light to stream in. The gaps between the walls allow the inhabitants to easily see and talk to each other. The home also features skylights that give every room a view of the outdoors. The skylights act as an outlet for the warm air, so that the home remains cool.
The staircase has been allocated in the east and west sides of the home. By doing this, there’s an additional buffer at the time of typhoons. It also prevents direct sunlight to come in, thus keeping the home cool during warm weather.
Primarily constructed with baked brick, concrete, terrazzo and wood, the home is rooted in sustainability. The interiors are minimal and most of the furniture pieces have been crafted out of old timber. In a bid to minimise costs, the finishing layer and unnecessary walls and doors are also done away with. Baked brick—a material favoured by locals since eons—is not only a cost-effective option, but also has the ability to regulate the humidity levels in the house.
“If every house is designed like a termitary which can naturally-ventilate and get sunlight, it will help save energy and decrease the negative impact of global warming,” say the architects. And so, by drawing from nature’s infinite repository, the Termitary House paves the way for a greener future.