Every year, floods, storms, and landslides plague Vietnam’s cities and countryside. These natural disasters, though not always devastating enough to attract international media, take a toll on the country, wreaking damages that are above the world average. In economic terms, Vietnam loses 1.2% of its annual GDP to mother nature, while large areas of development are swept away. Then, of course, there’s the human cost, which can peak around 500 casualties, with several thousand more forced to live in extreme circumstances after the fact.
For Hanoi-based H&P Architects, there is a viable architectural solution to this urgent problem. They have produced a new housing prototype capable of withstanding floods and powerful rainstorms and nimble enough to be assembled in about 25 days and for as little as $2,500. Elevated on stilts, the Blooming Bamboo—or Bb House—keeps occupants safe from elements, withstanding, according to the architects, up to 1.5-meter high floods.
The structure consists of cubic bamboo-framed bays stacked side-by-side and pinned down by steel poles and recycled oil drums. Interior partitions and exterior screens are fabricated from thin bamboo shoots—what the architects term "modules"—that are then strengthened by bamboo wattle and fiberboard.
Inside, the architects created a user-friendly interior environment where residents can move screens integrated into the walls to adjust for sunlight and heat, or wind and rain. Operable skylights function as transoms that evacuate heat via natural ventilation, a critical consideration when power is out and temperatures run high.
The architecture itself mixes vernacular and contemporary forms and skillfully manages the predominantly bamboo material palette by breaking up the walls into segments that vary the composition. The bamboo poles of the screens are angled diagonally, creating a rhythmic counterpoint to the horizontally-stacked poles of the fixed walls. Planters suspended on the sides of the house have perforated poles filled with soil for plants. The ceiling panels, when raised, lend the structure a stylized effect, similar to gull-wing doors on a sports car.
With its modular composition, the Bb House can be erected quickly in the aftermath of a storm and the structure can be enlarged or combined with other units to accommodate different programs, including classrooms, a wellness center, and an infirmary. H&P says that the structures could potentially contribute "to [the] ecological development as well as economic stabilization" of affected regions. They are now working on a version that could sustain 3-meter-high floods with hopes that the Bb Houses would one day compose entire villages capable of sheltering thousands displaced by natural tragedies.