location: Houston, TX
area: 3600 SF
status: Completed 2005

Designed for a Vietnamese family who immigrated to Houston, the Nguyen residence balances a Vietnamese way of life with Texas vernacular while being attentive to the regional climate and local methods of construction.

The Nguyen residence is made up of two houses spanning three generations: one for the son & his family, the other for his parents. The house is designed to enable the son and his wife to take care of the parents in their later years, while also allowing for the grandparents to spend time with and teach their grandchildren. The concept is based upon the Vietnamese tradition of different generations looking after each other.

The two houses embrace an ancestor pavilion placed in the middle of a lotus pond. The family worships their ancestors in the pavilion; it is painted white to represent the lotus flower. In Viet Nam, religious structures are traditionally placed in the center of a lotus pond because the lotus represents spiritual purity. The flower grows in the mud, but remains white and smells clean. The lotus stays pure despite its muddy environment.