8. Hanoi/Tube House verse Popular House

This blog examines the ‘popular housing’ created since Doi Moi reform and tube housing created since 1010 A.D. It is comparable in a way both are housing stock built by people themselves, with minimal government interference. Popular housing being the later self-build housing is a reformed and solution to the rationalization and individualization of the Hanoi society. Between the time gap of popular housing and tube housing, that is around the period of 1945 to 1986, state had proposed a series of public housing along with the establishment of socialism to Hanoi. Despite public housing being the solution to housing problem in most countries, Hanoi society’s rationalization and individualization lifestyle had turn down the development of such unified bulk housing until 2000, where commercial housing development start to emerge.

Fig. 1 Tube house spatial composition (plan and elevation)


Fig. 2 Diagram of a group of Tube houses

Let’s start with tube housing, it is general term given to describe the long tube-like housing that built around the period of 1000s, they are always situated along the street with ground floor having a shop in most cases. Due to its long physicality in nature, and a mixture of void and mass placement, most tube house develops a great eco-sufficient spatial composition that allows natural ventilation and sunlight. Moreover, its longitudinal placement suggests the gesture of continue growth without being autonomous to its original architecture, a flexibility that corresponds to its origin of naturality, a housing typology developed spontaneously along with the market oriented economy. Last but not least, the nature of individuality, results tube house of vary height and size, and a natural housing composition that allows the existence of eco-sufficient space. As a result, individual eco-sufficient space is than further complimented by the unintended eco-sufficient housing composition.

Fig. 3 Example of a residential under popular housing concept

Witness the success of tube house and the failure of public housing, popular housing is therefore proposed as an improvised housing of individuality, an alternative to tube house around areas outside of the ancient quarter. It is a Vietnamese concept of self-built housing, one that is cheaper than state provided housing with more diversity and individuality. It starts of as a slum upgrade solution, and slowly spread to the middle and upper class of the society, due to its relatively higher architectural quality and individuality. Most popular housing were designed and built by the families themselves with almost no architect involved. That is, according to the people they extract design inspiration from movies, television or even houses observed during vacation that end up house of diversify styles, for instance, European, American, Japanese, Vietnam et cetera.

Although in nowadays, tube house only remains within the Ancient Quarter of Hanoi. It proven the importance of people initiated feature. Self-build housing is never unique to Vietnam, it might even have existed in all Asian country history.  However, its existence in the pass and ancient quarter initiated the proposal of popular housing. A simple housing strategy that provides individuality, liberation and uniqueness. One that Vietnam can claim as its own.


Geertman, SJL Stephanie. “The self-organizing city in Vietnam: processes of change and transformation in housing in Hanoi.” PhD diss., Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, 2007.

Kien, To. “″Tube House ″and ″Neo Tube House ″in Hanoi: A Comparative Study on Identity and Typology.” Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering

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