Thanh-Hue Nguyen

Life in the Boxes
Location: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Nationality: Vietnamese
Biography: Thanh Hue is a freelance photojournalist currently based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Her focus is on documentary photography and human-centered issues, specifically private living spaces. Hue began her career documenting groups that... read on
Public Story
Life in the Boxes
Copyright Thanh-Hue Nguyen 2022
Updated Nov 2021
Archived as ,
Faced with high living costs in the Hanoi capital, uncontracted migrants from adjacent provinces, most of whom work as porters or small retailers in Long Bien or Dong Xuan market have resorted to shabby accommodation built by locals, many of which are unfinished but already rented out at a lower rate.

Cheap rent means low living quality. Each room with 2 to 5 people resides in a boxy bedroom occupant range from 800,000 VND to 2,000,000 VND a month.

In a tight space that can accommodate only a bed and a few necessities, each family figures their own way to give their temporary residence a homely feel, be it placing a flat board upon some bricks to make a bed or taping a wedding photo on an unplastered wall. Without a window, the only thing that connects the room with the world is the entrance door.

Though spontaneously built up with impermanent properties, these spaces have existed for decades, along with the increasingly rapid growth of low-income worker communities from adjacent provinces. As time goes by, perhaps such spaces have become a home, not only a dwelling place but also an anchor for their lengthened stay in this city.

Hanoi, 2019


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