Hoi An’s paddy fields and vegetable gardens are the stuff of legend. Row upon row of organically-grown fish mint, Thai basil and fragrant coriander glisten in the sun. What doesn’t get snapped up by the restaurants lining up the banks of Thu Bon river, ends up in neat piles at Hoi An’s excellent wet markets. The best stuff will of course be gone long before the tourists totter out of their homestays.
An antidote to mass tourism, Oryza Villa will be welcoming its first guests in June 2020. For travelers who want to be let in on the green action (or to simply surround themselves with bucolic countryside views), the new Oryza Villa could be the answer. Dubbed “the paddy field villa”, it sits smack in the middle of verdant rice fields stretching as far as the eye can see.
Those blessed with a green thumb can get busy tending the villa’s garden. Everybody else can apply themselves in the kitchen, go on long bicycle rides, partake in a spot of beach-hopping and explore Hoi An’s old town.
The villa’s modernist look is so unusual for its location that the house might as well be a yet-to-be-revealed Ai Weiwei creation. It is not. The creative force behind the project is Andrew Fraser, an Australian who has been calling Vietnam home for the past seven years.
Sourcing farm-to-table at Oryza Villa.As Andrew and his wife are applying the finishing touches to the gardens and interior ahead of the opening in June 2020, the couple gives us a grand tour.
Welcome to the new Vietcetera Visits series where we profile iconic, one-of-a-kind homes, offices, restaurants and more throughout Vietnam.
Why did you choose Hoi An to build this house?
Oryza’s beautifully-sited pool is perfect for sundowners.My wife and I live in Hoi An, and we love this place. Everyone who travels to Vietnam should visit Hoi An. It has so much of what makes the country a great travel destination all in one location. The picturesque rural countryside, some of Vietnam’s best beaches and obviously the UNESCO heritage old town. It is really hard to pass up, and is the perfect match for our villa concept.
The Hoi An countryside is only an hour’s drive for international travelers flying directly into Da Nang. What you find here is a self-contained sanctuary offering peace and tranquility — a sharp contrast with the resort vibe of Da Nang.
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What was your motivation for Oryza Villa?
I think it’s far too easy nowadays to travel through Vietnam without ever really getting an honest feel for local life and what the country is about. With Oryza we wanted to reverse that trend and build the kind of place that allows couples time to engage with the local environment while encouraging an authentic connection. Oryza is essentially a counterweight to mass tourism and to the barrier it has built between travelers and local life. We are here to showcase the best of what rural Hoi An has to offer.
Thoughtfully framed views bring the outdoors in.Why build Oryza Villa in the middle of a rice paddy?
We searched for a long time for a site to build a villa on. A villa that would showcase authentic rural Vietnam to travelers.
An open-plan layout and high ceilings create high volumes in the house’s main living space, while the bathroom boasts double vanities.We found this plot of land for sale with an existing farmer’s house and rice fields on three sides and immediately knew this was where we needed to develop our concept. The postcard version of Vietnam. Away from the urgency of downtown. Sweeping rice fields, farmers in conical hats, buffalo wondering around.
What type of traveler do you hope to host at the house?
We designed the villa for couples looking to experience something truly unique. A boutique, private experience that is very different from the mass of cookie-cutter hotels, homestays and resorts. With space to cook the fresh produce from the amazing Hoi An markets, a vegetable garden, and a relaxing private pool, guests can have an authentic connection to Hoi An.
Furnishings are kept minimal to keep the emphasis on the pastoral landscape.What sort of features should your guests know about the villa?
The infinity pool that overlooks the rice field is a key feature. The spacious feeling inside is enhanced by the internal garden, together with the open plan, and the high ceilings. The massive double glazed windows bring the rural feel into the house. And we have tried to use only local materials for the furniture to create the boutique, non-mass manufactured experience we want our guests to have.
For Andrew and Hoa finding the right location was crucial.How did you consider your surroundings when coming up with Oryza concept and design?
As much as possible we wanted to evoke a feeling of the rural surroundings without being too overt or creating a Disneyfied rural theme.
Oryza Villa is a self-contained lodging complete with a kitchen and a cozy dining area.When we bought the property there was a traditional farmer’s house on the land. We took inspiration from the original building and created a clean minimalist structure and silhouette. It’s clearly a modern house, yet from some angles it looks quite traditional.
The decor and landscaping also fall in line with this. We shied away from a more manicured resort garden in favor of a traditional veggie patch and furnished the house using almost entirely natural materials and commissioning pieces from local craftsmen.
Do you plan to develop more?
The indoor garden gives the space a Zen vibe, while most of the furnishings were commissioned from local artisans and craftsmen.Possibly, although we want to preserve the boutique nature of this villa. It would be nice to do something similar that caters to families or small groups.