courtyard

Progress and modernization does not need to be all about getting rid of the old, and the same holds true when it comes to sustainable design and renovations. While not always the case, it does sometimes make more sense to renovate a building rather than tear it down and build something else in its place. This was exactly what the Vietnamese firm a21 Studio concluded when coming up with the best way to renovate an old, abandoned museum in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).

The museum is an old-style, narrow townhouse and they have turned it into a unique multigenerational home with its own central courtyard and even a net bridge for the children to play on. The building used to be the so-called Van Duong Palace antiques museum, which had been abandoned for a while. The owners of the building wanted to turn it into a modern home and yet retain it’s historic look and feel.

bridge

room

The open courtyard forms the central core of the space. It features a number of small trees as well as two suspended net bridges leading from one part of the building to the other. The house rises around the courtyard, and is made up of densely packed spaces, which to an extent overlap each other. This gives the building a unique look, especially with its many small old-style alcoves and balconies. In fact, it almost looks like a city within a city, which is typical of old-world architecture in this old city.

alcove

balcony

stairs

Parts of the house were painted in bright colors to add more life and brightness to the structure. The designers also installed a screen on the outside of the building, which is covered in greenery. It provides shade and privacy, but is also suitable for climbing on.

green screen

plans