Building design varies depending on geographical characteristics and living environment, which leads to different house desings in different areas. Sometimes, maybe with the same house design, but in different areas, there would be creativity in the use of materials, structures… in order to best suit the human needs.
The Mekong Delta is well-known for the scissoring system of rivers and canals, hot and humid weather all year round, dry and rainy seasons, limited economic conditions. Thus, the housing architecture would need to be adapted to daily life of the local people in this area.
In Vietnam and many other regions of the world, thatched roof used to be the most common building design before the rise of concrete and tole era. While in the north of Vietnam, dried straw is the commonly used as the roof of a house because of its redundancy after harvest, people in the South use leaves from Nipa palm to cover their houses.
Nipa palm has other names: Nypa palm, Nipah palm, mangrove palm, Attap palm. Growing in almost every bank of rivers or canals, Nipa palm can also grow in brackish water. Every part of the palm can be used, from fruit as food, leaves as building materials, leaflets for making hats, raincoats … Thanks to its durability, popularity, ventilation… Nipa palm is exceptionally suitable for roofing.
Besides using palm leaves for roofing, people in the Mekong Delta take advantage of natural materials available to build their houses. Cajuput is among the best materials to use for framing and pilling houses. Cajuput after cutting will be suck in the water to increase the toughness, ductility and avoid termites. A house built from cajuput can typically last ten years.
Although houses of concrete and tole are more and more common, people in the Mekong Delta still keep their thatched houses. Many people here has a thatched house beside a concrete on to serve as a cooling place to hide from hot days. Occasionally, we can see a house built from the conbination of brick walls and Nipa thatched roofs. The Nipa palm part, if carefully selected and processed, can last until five years.
The peaceful and familiar image of a thatched house have been closely attached to many generations of the people in the Mekong. The Nipa palm plays an important role in the life of the people here, from creating environment – friendly shelter places to protecting the living environment. That’s why many people in Vietnam are now coming back to the design of thatched buildings, even in big, crowded cities to luxurious resorts.