Ask a little kid almost anywhere to draw a house and he/she most likely will draw a simple shape with a gable-end roof. The gable-end roof form has persisted over the centuries as gable roofs were applied to most buildings in northern climates to shed snow. The attic spaces under such roofs often catch a young child's imagination with secret cozy spaces filled with mementos or antiques.
But the roofs of houses in San Francisco need not be designed to shed snow -- these designs are strictly stylistic and laden with emotional attachments to long-ago periods of history -- in this case the Victorian age.
In a tropical region like Vietnam, it is disconcerting to see gable roof ends applied to flat-roofed houses just to add stylistic elements.
The spaces under the orange-tile roofs are empty and become very hot during the day. On the other hand, countryside houses in Vietnam often had gable roof forms made of grass thatch, which was reasonably effective at draining away the torrential rains.
In the city, it seems as if these forms are applied to houses to add stylistic status for the owner of the house, as if to say that his house isn't really a home unless it has a traditional gable roof end.
This new house is the first house I have seen in Ho Chi Minh City to make full use under the gable roof form, and I am shocked that it looks so much like my house in San Francisco.
The style is overwhelmingly conflicted however, with the traditional roof form and windows above and the modernist glassy facade at the bottom.