Giving new life to tree bark, branches, and even test concrete blocks, Vu Hoang Kha harnesses local knowledge and traditional and upcycled materials achieving his vision to create something meaningful from ‘waste’

Đà Lạt, Vietnam

Located within a unique climatic region of Vietnam, Nha Nhim Homestay designed by Vu Hoang Kha of A+ Architects is a residence of several small elements whose arrangement of upcycled building parts optimizes ventilation and natural sunlight, reducing the use of artificial energy and minimizing harm to the environment.

For its unique upcycling concept that harmonizes with the existing terrain, Nha Nhim Homestay has recently been awarded a 2022 Green Good Design Award by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

Nha Nhim Homestay was built in Da Lat City where the weather stands in contrast to Vietnam’s otherwise tropical climate. 

No other city in the country has mist covering the valleys almost year-round.

It is located on a slope of a mountainous area, within the deserted scenery of the surrounding neighborhood in the North-West of Da Lat, fifteen minutes from the center of the city.

The client required a place not only for living but also for hosting low-budget hospitality services.

The site challenged the architects with its long but narrow plot, where the length significantly overshadows its 8-meter width. 

The terrain presented a difficult challenge with undulating, uneven terrain and weak soil, which can cause landslides.

Thus, it was decided to lift all of the built elements and create an open space for the homestay that adheres to the topography of the area. 

More specifically, given the client’s wishes, a beautiful homestay for travellers was achieved by creating viewports from and within the premises.

The project includes the main house and additional sleeping cabins.

The units were arranged to encourage connection and communication between different cabins. 

One of the most difficult challenges was the cold weather in Da Lat. 

A big sloped roof was created to avoid freezing winds at night while still receiving cool breezes during hot days.

Moreover, the project was divided into several small elements for optimal ventilation, natural sunlight, reduced use of artificial energy, minimizing harm to the environment.

Although many modern features were incorporated into the interior design, harmony with the overall context was preserved by using traditional materials, such as pine, one of the most characteristic materials in Da Lat.

During field trips to Dalat, the design team consulted with locals, listening to their stories and learning how local resources could be used in the project. 

A large potential was found in waste materials from the area, therefore, it was decided to collect and upcycle them.

For instance, waste materials from local textile factories were categorized and recycled into different parts. 

The pallet wood panels were the main material used for the furniture, the external wood cells were reused in-ceiling modules, and fences were made from tree branches.

There were also test concrete blocks being thrown away, which were repurposed by being carefully aligned to recreate the iconic talus slope of Da Lat. 

In terms of sustainability in the projects, recyclable material was the most noticeable point as well as respect to the topography, which was to stick to the slope and allow water to naturally permeate. 

This project is a story of giving so-called “waste” a second chance—an architect’s adventure in creating something meaningful from trash.

Architects: A+ Architects
Lead Architect: Vu Hoang Kha
Design Team: Truong Nguyen Uyen Thu, Tu Phan Nguyen Truong, Tran Van An, Nguyen Long An, Tran Thi Ly Na, and Hoang Quang Dong
Client: Private
Photographers: Quang Tran