Vo Van Duong's bamboo and coconut leaf house looks much like others deep in Vietnam's Mekong Delta. But unlike them, his seemingly simple abode is designed to withstand typhoons, flooding and earthquakes - and at a cost of less than $US4000 ($A5051) could herald a new wave of cheap, sustainable housing.

The natural materials on its surface belie the hi-tech internal structure of the farmer’s new home, which uses steel struts and wall panels as a defence against the elements in the natural disaster-prone region. “The new house is safer, I’m not afraid that it will collapse,” the 48-year-old papaya farmer…