Housing Design and Construction Project Statement

Construction is one of Habitat for Humanity’s main activities. Building and renovating houses to create safe, permanent homes with reliable water and sanitation facilities is an ongoing task of HFH. With the aim of improving the general quality of life of occupants, as well as providing improved protection against disasters and seasonal flooding. Your challenge will be to provide environmentally-friendly design proposals that will help achieve these aims.


Design Projects

EWB and Habitat for Humanity invite you to consider one or more of the following design projects:

  • Improve the design of houses so that the floor and foundations are waterproof and can resist rising water table along with the high salt concentrations it brings. 
  • Develop an environmentally friendly, durable and low-cost roof material using locally available materials. Ideally the roof would also be suitable for rainwater collection. Please consider the health and safety of the family, salt from ocean breeze and strong winds affecting families in the Mekong Delta.
  • Design a user-friendly educational program for local builders on housing maintenance and construction; focusing on increasing the education levels and formal design skills of the local builders.
  • Develop a method of making coconut leaf walls and roofs more durable, pest-resistant, disaster-resistant and strong enough so that they last up to ten years as oppose to 2.
  • The Mekong Delta climate is hot all year round, with wet and dry seasons typically lasting 6 months each. Households do not have access to air-conditioning or fans, and must rely on winds and the household design to provide comfort. Develop a green / cool house construction design for this hot climate in order to release heat and keep the household cool. 

Design Considerations

When designing a solution, the following issues have been identified and should be considered a priority. The proposal should:

  • Explain measures taken that would help to reduce cost, construction time, and negative environmental impacts.
  • Consider factors such as heating and cooling, lighting and the material selection.
  • Use locally available materials that are culturally acceptable and environmentally friendly.
  • Outline a strategy for coping with the risk of rising water levels and tidal changes. 




Additional Information

House design

The culture within the district is for people to wish to build traditional houses with coconut leaf thatched roofs and walls. It is therefore Habitat For Humanity Vietnam’s vision that people should build transitional houses that enable homeowners to extend the house in the future. Houses should be built to last at least 20 years. You should look to incorporate the traditional housing style and the use of local materials in your house design.


It is feared that many homes in danger of rising water levels, with foundations, columns and flooring deteriorating quickly via inundation of salty water. Other environmental issues facing housing design in the An Minh District is the impeding threat of large storms and minor flooding. Thus, houses would benefit from increased durability and adaptability to the changing weather conditions and rising sea levels. The Kien Giang government lists building houses for the poor to cope with climate change in the An Minh District the 2nd development priority of the region. The development priorities can be found here. Your designs should focus on new building designs that can cope with the environmental changes and bring sustainability to the region, whilst still retaining the traditional feel to the design.


The houses are typically built on the ground along the banks of the canals on the ground. The floor is often elevated on stilts to provide some protection from minor flooding. It is also common for homes to experience pests such as mosquito’s and rates, especially during the nights. You may wish to look at ways to protect the household from such pests in your design.


Another important aspect of the house design, that is often forgotten in the region, is the inclusion of bathroom, toilet and water facilities.



House layout

Houses are typically one story and on average contain only 2 rooms (living and bedroom) with the kitchen, bathroom and toilet facilities often located outside. While the houses are built on the ground the floor may be elevated on stilts. The houses usually have little ventilation and no windows except on occasion on the front of the house.


It is common for each home to be occupied by 4 to 5 people. The people within the area have a very communal culture and a household may consist of grandparents, parents and children. The sleeping areas are shared by all members of the household. Households usually own one cat and one dog which also sleep inside the house.


To gain a better understanding of the lifestyle of a typical family in the An Minh district, and to gain an understanding of what a typical house looks like, watch this video “Life in the An Minh District”.



Construction and construction materials

Houses in the Mekong Delta are typically made from red clay brick and mortar or from bamboo. Roofs are either galvanised steel (replaced every 5 – 7 years) or thatched coconut leaves (replaced every 3 years). Locally available materials should be used where possible however the materials need improving to ensure a house can last 20 years at least. Strong winds from storms often damage the coconut leaf roofing. This can cause the roof to leak. If the household can not afford to repair the roof plastic sheeting is often used as waterproofing.


Typically a 40m^2 house with toilet will cost 65million VND to construct, with costs increasing rapidly each year. Construction is either completed by the home owners themselves or by skilled local labour.


The houses are typically built on the ground along the banks of the canals on the ground. The ground may be the banks of the river however as land is often scarce and reserved from agriculture houses are often built on reclaimed land. Land is reclaimed by sectioning off a part of the canal and backfilling it with waste construction materials and mud until there is a solid land mass on which to build. Construction on stilts is also common.  

You can download a list of the approximate cost of local building materials in An Minh here (costs as estimated by Habitat for Humanity Vietnam).