Nhà sàn và nhà trên cọc

Một nghiên cứu rất hay về “nhà sàn”/”nhà trên cọc”, đăng tải gốc ở trang “The stilt house and the pilotis”.

Introduction to the Stilt House

Mies Van der Rohe's Farnsworth House, flooded

Mies Van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House in a flood, Preservation News

The stilt house is a home raised on piles. This form originated in aquatic areas over water or in areas of unstable soil such as marshlands or floodplains, but has since been adapted to land-based dwelling units as well. Stilt houses were common in the Alpine region during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, as well as in pre-Columbian South America.

Palafito Stilt House

South American Palafito Stilt House

As vernacular architecture, stilt houses still are common in parts of South East Asia, Papua New Guinea, and West Africa. Common stilt housing typologies found around the world include the Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia Kelong, Hong Kong Pang Uk, Papua New Guinea Stilt House, Thai Stilt House, Vietnamese Stilt House, and South American Palafito.

Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye home in Poissy, France

Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye home

The modern movement adopted the idea of the stilt, or pilotis, and brought the concept into present-day building. Mies Van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House is raised with a frame five feet above ground to separate the home from the floodplains on which it is built. Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye is a poignant example in the use of pilotis to raise the house in a non-aquatic setting.

Will Alsop's Sharp Centre for Design at the Toronto OCAD

Toronto Sharp Centre for Design @ OCAD, Will Alsop Architect

Contemporary architects such as Will Alsop have adopted the stilt to open up public space at the ground level in buildings such as Toronto’s Ontario College of Art and Design. And finally, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans’ rebuilding effort, many homes are re-adopting stilts as a method of keeping away floodwaters.

Hong Kong's Pang Uk Dwellings in Tai O

Pang Uk homes in Tai O Fishing Village, Chau 2007

History of the stilt house
The most well-understood and thoroughly documented history of the stilt house is that of Southeast Asia (Knapp 351). While the evidence for a specific origin is inconclusive, it is clear that the pile house was created in the equatorial region in marshy and swampy areas next to riverbanks. The extensive distribution of the house type is puzzling at times: it is prevalent in the northern latitudes of Japan, where the pile house is ill-suited for the winter weather, and on land-locked areas of Burma.

The southern Chinese pile dwelling
One of the earliest established forms of the pile house arose in China from 221 BC to 220 AD. The house type is termed the ganlan in Chinese, a derogatory term used to describe the “southern barbarians” who lived in these raised-floor buildings in the southwest, south, southeast, and nearby islands.

Map showing distribution of pile dwellings in Asia

The distribution of pile-built dwellings in East Asia, South-East Asia, and the Pacific Region, Knapp 351

These early pile houses could be divided into three categories. The first, called the diajiaolou was situated on hillsides, half its foundation in the ground and half raised on piles. The second type of dwelling, the ganlan, was fully raised from the ground on wooden piles. The last type, tutanshi, was raised from the ground not with wooden piles but with earth and stones.

The overall form of the Chinese pile house is based on a three-post wide, five-post deep, structural system. There are two levels above ground that are occupied with living and bedroom spaces, in addition to the open ground storage level. The roof overhangs to create a generous porch space. The foundations of the building vary with construction materials available and site conditions: from stone, earth, to wooden piles driven into the ground. In Indonesia, the foundations are constructed using a cross-log system. Regional and ethnic variances to the housing type are apparent in such elements as the roof curvature, building proportions, and structural detailing.

Dong House Structure, Elevation, and Site Plan

Dong House Structure, Dong House Elevation, Dong House Site Plan, Knapp 358

Type and inhabitation

Qing-dynasty Han Chinese Home

Qing-dynasty Han Chinese house, Knapp 362

The spacial arrangements in the ganlan pile home contrast with those of the Northern Han Chinese. The typical Han home was arranged on axis: an exterior courtyard contrasted against the inner spaces of a bright living room surrounded by two dark bedrooms. The southern ganlan, on the other hand, never developed these symmetric qualities, and instead contrasted the two main types of spaces against one another: the front hall for living, with the back room for sleeping. The bedrooms and storage spaces are both considered marginal spaces in the ganlan, and these spaces are easily substituted for one another.

Ruan Khruang Sap Siamese house in Thailand

Ruan Khruang Sap Siamese house in Thailand, Knapp 262

Evolution of the Chinese ganlan
The prevalence of stilt houses throughout the Pacific reveals that the housing type spread across cultures and ethnicities without regard to national borders.

The Ruan Khruang Sap found in central Thailand is a variation of the stilt house. Unlike the Chinese ganlan, this home is inhabited by the wealthy. Its high pointed gable and sloping roof are modeled from thirteenth century sacred buildings, and are designed to provide protection from the monsoon rains and strong sun. The raised floor allows breezes to cool the building while creating a space underneath for work areas and storage.

Photograph of a Malaysian Kampong dwelling

Malaysian Kampong dwelling

The Kampong is found in the muddy swamps and estuaries of Malaysia, where the raised floor is necessary to keep the house away from the water. The wood post and beam construction rests on a stone foundation, and the piles that raise the building from the ground continue through the first floor to support the rest of the building.

Malaysian Kampong House Axonometric

Malaysian Kampong house axonometric, Knapp 236

The Luang Prabang house is found both on the land and water of Laos. The materials used to build the stilt homes differ based on the locally available materials: in urban areas, corrugated iron and plaster have been in use for a long time, while bamboo, timber, and palm leaves are used in more remote locations.

Luang Prabang house in Laos

Luang Prabang house in Laos, Knapp 189

The present-day stilt house
The concept of the raised house on stilts, piles, and pilotis has crossed over from its vernacular origins in the home, and into the language of contemporary architecture.

Unite d'Habitation ground floor pilotis

Pilotis raise the Unite d’Habitation from the ground

Le Corbusier led the modern movement’s adoption of the pilotis in his five points in architecture. He believed that the raised floor could create a space to serve a myriad of functions:
– Creation of a sheltering awning from the elements
– Separation of pedestrian and vehicular traffic
– Restitution of the ground plane back to the public

Le Corbusier Vers Une Architecture Cover

Cover of Le Corbusier’s Vers Une Architecture

The architect’s interest in the merits of raising the home continued throughout his career, evolving over time in such diverse buildings as the Marseille Unite d’Habitation and Harvard’s Carpenter Center for Visual Arts. Most importantly, Le Corbusier expanded the use of the raised floor to all building types.

Will Alsop's Toronto Sharp Centre for Design at OCAD

Section through Toronto’s Sharp Centre for Design, Polo 24

Continuing in the modernist tradition making use of the pilotis to create public space, are more recent projects such as the Sharp Centre for Design at Toronto’s Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD). This new centre, nicknamed the Tabletop, delivers 7,000 square meters of program space while creating a new public space that links to nearby Grange Park. This is accomplished by raising the centre 26 metres above ground using 12 multi-coloured steel stilts.

Will Alsop's Peckham Library in Southwark

Will Alsop’s Peckham Library in Southwark

The pritzker prize-winning architect Glenn Murcutt makes extensive use of the pile structure in his housing designs. He draws inspiration from aboriginal shelters for natural ventilation and cooling techniques, and has successfully combined a contemporary aesthetic with sustainability.

Glenn Murcutt's Marika-Alderton House

Glenn Murcutt’s Marika-Alderton house

Similar to Glenn Murcutt’s use of the raised floor for its cooling effects, many contemporary housing projects are taking advantage of the stilt house’s strength in unstable soils to prevent water damage in vulnerable locations. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, architects have pushed to reevaluate the housing type in the city.

Spinnaker Point condos in Pascagoula destroyed by Hurricane Katrina surge

Spinnaker Point condos in Pascagoula, MS destroyed by Hurricane Katrina surge

Two Architecture Record housing competitions show the importance designers have placed on systems that can raise homes in the case of future flooding and elevated water levels (Russell 120). Michelle Jellison’s modular design updates two aspects of the traditional New Orleans type. It includes a single-loaded shotgun scheme, coupled with a generous inner courtyard. She has placed a second floor in the front of the home to create a high-ceilinged living space facing the street. Most pertinently, the modular nature of construction allows the ground floor height to be raised or lowered according to flood risk.

The stilt house typology has proven its versatility and viability in a variety of settings. Both throughout history and in contemporary architecture, the raised building has been used across cultures and continents for its wide-ranging merits: its ability to cool down the home in the humid tropics, its creation of public space below, its strength on unstable soils, and the possibility of inhabiting water-prone areas.

New Orleans House on Stilts

New Orleans Neighbourhood Home on raised stilts

As we realize the importance of building appropriately for our physical environment, the stilt house will gain a more important role. We can no longer build the same type of prefabricated home everywhere, ignoring our surroundings. Instead, in equatorial zones, along riversides, in marshlands, the more appropriate pile dwelling should be built.

In order to move forward in a sustainable manner, we must revisit and understand our sustainable past.


Bourne, Joel K. “New Orleans: A Perilous Future.” National Geographic. 26 September 2007.

Edmiston, Jeremy, Gauthier, Douglas. “Bursting out.” Metropolis. December 2006: 114-120, 139.

Goy, Richard J. Building Renaissance Venice: patrons, architects and builders. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Knapp, Ronald G. Asia’s Old Dwellings: Tradition, Resilience, and Change. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Krauel, Jacobo, Ockrassa, Amber, ed. Experimental architecture: houses. New York: Universe, 2004.

Moss, Eric Owen. “Samitaur offices.” Progressive architecture. January 1992: 60-62.

Noyes, Elliot. “This Stilt House is Practical.” House and Home. February 1953: 118-121.

Polo, Marco. “Suspended Animation.” Canadian Architect. November 2004: 22-26.

“Preservation News.” Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois. 26 September 2007

Russell, James S. “Building a better Gulf South.” Architectural Record. June 2006: 112-129.

Sijpkes, Pieter. “Sharp Centre beim Ontario College of Arts & Design in Toronto: Alsop Architects.” Baumeister. January 2005: 48-55.

Unite d’Habitation. 21 November 2007.

Vogt, E. “Swiss pile-dwellings.” Antiquity. June 1957: 68-72.

Webb, Michael. “Delight.” Architectural Review. August 2002: 98.

Yagi, Koji, ed. Indigenous Settlements in Southwest Asia. Tokyo: Process Architecture Publishing Co. Ltd., 1980


  1. hihi, di lang htang tren web lai vo duoc blog a, a cung la KTS ah,hhiih, han hanh lam quen a nhe, e dang kiem tai lieu ve thu vien ,ko biet a co ko share cho e duoc ko

  2. hoang

    e dang tim tai lieu ve giai phap ket cau nha cho nguoi thu nhap thap.hi vong neu a co tai lieu gi nham lam giam gia thanh xay dung cho nguoi co thu nhap thap a co the gui cho e theo dia chi nay.rat cam on a.

  3. chusytinh

    em xin chao thay a.thay khoe ko a.chuc thay manh khoe, thanh cong

  4. không nhớ là gì nữa

    e, chào Thầy,e là một sinh viên cũ của Thầy khi Thầy vừa về trường Văn Lang dạy,lang thang trên mạng tìm tài liệu thì gặp trang này của Thầy, chúc Thầy mạnh khỏe trẻ trung

  5. Dear Sir,

    I am a fan of traditional asian architecture and find your post very interesting. After reading it and reflecting on it, I came to realize that there is one very interesting stilted structure common in the seas of South-east Asia called Kelong, that you have not covered in your writing. Kelongs are fishing outpost constructed far out into the shallow sea.

    I would be most please to hear your comment on this. I am particularly interested in the construction of the Kelong. I wonder how, for instance, the long palm stems are driven into the seabed at the onset of the construction.

    I like to think the origin of the Kelong comes from South China too. As you may well know, most of our chinese immigrants to South-east Asia came from there. And since time memorable, Kelongs have always been run by chinese. I wonder if ‘kelong’ is a corruption of the word ‘ganlan’ – a term I just learned reading your wonderful writing.

    Hope to hear from you. Thank you.

    Joseph Lai

  6. Em là một người rất thích kiến trúc nhà Sàn,bài viết này cho em hiểu thêm về lĩnh vực mình quan tâm, cảm ơn tác giả bài viết!

  7. Giovanni

    Hi, very interesting article.
    I consider “palafitos” really important for architecture and for human culture, too. They were the first architectural expression of mankind and one of the first “artistic” in general: in that way mankind signed his not-to-be-animal anymore. An epocal no-return milestone more important than Partenone or calcestuzzo (earlier concrete)’s invention.
    Just one thing: in contemporary sequence you should “absolutely” add “Villa dall’Ava” in Paris of Rem Koolhaas: Alsop’s wonderful houses start from and are surely a tribute to that. Remembering also that Rem Koolhaas spent his childhood in Indonesia…

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