The 'tube houses' that dominate Hanoi's streets - GulfToday

The 'tube houses' that dominate Hanoi's streets

Vietnam house 4

A narrow residential house, known as "nha ong" in Vietnamese or "tube house" in Hanoi. AFP

Tall, thin and brightly coloured, Hanoi's "tube houses" dominate the city's streets as nine million people compete for space in Vietnam's bustling capital.


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Although Vietnam saw a number of villas and garden houses built during the French colonial period, Hanoi has few of these grand residential homes.

Vietnam house 3 An aerial view of the narrow residential houses. AFP

Instead, tree-lined streets are packed with dwellings that are barely four metres wide, but are three times that in depth.

Typically, a tube house might be home to a family of four but two or three generations of relatives sometimes have to jostle for space.

Vietnam house 2 A man checking his mobile phone against the backdrop of narrow residential houses. AFP

The first tube houses -- known as "nha ong" in Vietnamese are thought to have appeared in the capital at the end of the 19th century, when villagers looking to sell silver, traditional herbs and tools began to move to the area.

A narrow architectural style evolved from the limited available space, said Tran Quoc Bao, a senior lecturer at the National University of Civil Engineering.

Vietnam house 1 This aerial photograph shows narrow residential houses in a densely populated urban area of Hanoi. AFP

The design is still a favourite in modern day Hanoi, where architects now refer to them as "adjoining houses".

"This model of house is essential for an urban architect (today). The adjoining house is a combination of both the traditional and modern residence," the Hanoi-based lecturer told AFP, adding that they can also be found in many other Vietnamese cities.

Agence France-Presse

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