The Art of Architecture: The Nam Hai Villas


Hoi An, Vietnam

Showcasing the celebrated award-winning design of Paris-based Reda Amalou, the all-villa Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam interprets the Vietnamese tradition of architecture as an art form. Inspiration for the Resort's design is rooted in the Vietnamese house: a traditional structure that is rapidly disappearing in favour of brighter-lit buildings with more windows. In homage to traditional abodes, The Nam Hai reinterprets the style of old houses typically found in Central Vietnam (particularly in the former Imperial capital, Hue, 120 kilometres or 75 miles north of the Resort) for a more contemporary way of living. 

Known as nha ruong (house of panels) or nha vuon (garden house), Vietnam's traditional buildings are characterised by their relationship between breadth and depth. Each villa at The Nam Hai replicates this style, formed of a large timber frame within which decorative panels rise to a pitched roof of flat tiles.

  • A traditional garden house comprises a long front façade side characterised by a suite of doors and an interior that reveals three niche areas - central ancestral altar, left-hand side "head of the house" phan (platform) bedroom, and right-hand side, wife's area.  Inside, wooden pillars bear the weight of the layered roof tiles and decorative dropped ceiling.
  • Each villa at The Nam Hai pays homage to these traditions with internal columns and a multi-functional central sleeping platform: a space to sleep, work at a desk, lounge with family and - exclusively to The Nam Hai - to bathe in an indulgent eggshell lacquer bath. Gossamer nets encase the bed creating a'lantern-esque effect, while a lighter wooden lattice replaces the dropped ceiling.

"Far more utilitarian than beds in the West, the platform bed is multi-purpose and not nearly as sacrosanct as sleeping spaces in the West. Culturally, Vietnamese people prize community over the individual. Privacy is not nearly as hallowed, and so there's no discord in a furnishing that serves as a foundation for a card game, a meal of rice and fish, some work on the maintenance of a conical hat, and sleep. At bedtime, the Vietnamese typically roll a thin straw mat onto the wooden platform and voila - sleeping accommodation," according to Reda Amalou, AW2, Architects of Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai.