A bamboo house with contemporary appeal sits immersed in its natural surroundings. The home that’s also a medical clinic belongs to Nopharat Pitchanthuk MD, and his wife Kanyapak Silawatanawongse. Without question, his interest in the natural therapeutic concept is expressed in the warm, inviting atmosphere of the home office. The orthopedic doctor provides specialized care for the musculoskeletal system in the comfort of a peaceful country setting.
Asked how all this was accomplished, the physician said: “Upon graduation from medical school, I taught medicine and operated a clinic in Bangkok for several years before coming out to Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima. At first, we opened a branch office in the city area just to get an idea about patient demands in the provinces.
“I was fortunate enough to receive help from a kindhearted person senior to me. He wanted to help patients in the rural area to have access to medical care. So, he let us use a facility free of charge for the purpose of opening a clinic. After having done it for a while, we felt like we were overstaying the welcome. At the same time, we needed a facility that would be more relaxed and convenient for the patients – preferably a greenery space that was comfortable, well lighted, open and airy. Just didn’t want them to feel tense and unable to relax as was the case with a hospital visit in general.”
She said: “For a while, we went searching for a location that would suit our specific needs. We eventually came to a parcel of land that Kanyapak’s mother had bought some 20 years back. It was woodland filled with dense shrubbery and other plants. We had the area cleared to make room for a grassy lawn, and had new trees planted. Eventually it was ready for a wedding ceremony to take place. Needless to say we have grown emotionally attached to it from day one. Hence, the new house and the medical clinic that has been relocated from the city.”
Bamboo is strong and can be used proportionally to the weights for which it’s intended. It’s fast growing, easy to find, and reasonable as a building material. While it’s prone to be affected by moisture and insects, it can last a long time if well maintained.
Non (Intanon Chantip), INchan atelier architect and owner of this HUAMARK 09 building, designed it to test theories he’d arrived at through intense study and experience. He wanted the architecture to tell its own story through the charm of materials that change over time.
Non and his wife Ploy (Tharisra Chantip) bought this a 30-year-old, 80 square wa (.8 acres) property in the Hua Mark district, demolishing the old house to erect a new four-storey mixed-use building with usable space of 490 square meters and combine office, residence, and art studio.
Dividing the property into northern and southern sections, they raised the property level more than 40 percent to put in a garden to the north, then a rectangular building to the south. The building’s long side runs east-west to block prevailing winds and allow openings to control sunlight and breeze entry into the house.
The house’s four-meter width is comparable to most row houses. Each side has double walls that work simultaneously for ventilation and heat insulation, with door and window openings reinforcing the building’s primary relationship to weather conditions, wind, and sun.
On the south side are fewer openings because of a staircase, while north and east sides have balconies and various service areas reaching around to the west side, which also has the double walls characteristic of the building’s overall design.
The 4 storeys are divided according to function. Architects’ offices are primarily in two first floor rooms: a larger one with a long work table for working in teams and a smaller one that serves as meeting room and library.
The second floor is a private residential area, with a living room connecting to kitchen and dining area.
Floor 3 contains one bedroom for Non and Ploy and another for Non’s mother. The two are connected with a shared bathroom.
The fourth floor is a studio for creation and enjoyment of art. It’s designed with a view to high flexibility of function in expectation of anticipated future changes as little members of the household gradually grow up.
In house design, the phrase “limited space” raises worrisome questions for some. Here, though, owner Ek (Sarin Nilsonthi) used modern tropical design techniques and inner space connectivity to build large-house functionality and comfort into a compact area.
/// Thailand /// Story: Wuttikorn Suthiapa /// Photography: Soopakorn Srisakul /// Design: D Kwa Architect
“I designed this house on one A4 sheet of paper,” Ek says with a smile.
“Since it’s small, I tried to write down all the functionality we’d need on a single sheet of paper, and named the house ‘PSA,’ from ‘Paper Series A.’ The name actually has nothing to do with the A4 paper dimensions, it’s just an attempt at humor.”
This “compact tropical” house is all about size and proportion. Posts and beams are angled and separated in unusual ways to create the right kind of space in each place.
“We didn’t set the beams and posts this way because we wanted to, but in order to set things up in the right way. Still, anyone living in this house will have to be the same height as my wife and I, ha ha!”
Coming in, the first thing we see is a large steel panel, which Ek leaves rusted to show a stylish authenticity of construction materials; this panel shields the second floor from heat while showing off the shipping-container design of the office area. Below is a carport paved with fine gravel reaching up to the house entrance.
Ek intentionally shortened the fence, bringing it inwards to create a clearly defined “inside the fence” area, a gravel yard with benches and trees which actually becomes a part of the house itself. The house walls are rough concrete all around, and H-beams sunk into the yard support the office section, which is raised above a lower area where Ek and his wife Pla (Pairin Boonpinid ) plan to open a café in the future.
Inside, on the lower floor living room, dining area, and kitchen are all connected, each ceiling at a different level. For good ventilation and a sense of spaciousness, the living room ceiling is “doublespace.” Ceilings in the dining area and kitchen are lower, with electric lighting giving them each a unique identity. The staircase has no railing, so is accessed from any direction; you can just walk down to sit and relax in the dining area, which is also used to store kitchen necessities: spices, condiments, even a refrigerator.
Going up the stairs and turning left brings us into the container-shaped office, the rusted outer wall reaching up to the third floor as protection against heat. The container surface is rainproof, with a layer of insulation between it and a pressed wood surface that gives an orderly look to the interior. On this floor also is a guest bedroom, currently used as a reading room, but planned as AirB&B tourist accommodation once the café opens.
The master bedroom entrance is in back, along a walkway next to the kitchen; Khun Ek designed it as a separate building, so as to remain private when the café/hostel section opens, accessible without going through other sections of the house. Here the floor is raised up above the ground as protection against moisture, and there is a skylight above for indirect lighting.
A tree reaches up into the second floor, its top directly in front of the office’s picture window This and other features combine to give this compact house a comfortable, airy feeling, enhanced by imaginative placement of openings for breezes and natural light. Ek refers to the greenery and openness as creating “breathing space,” as rooms are all interconnected, airy, sunny, and in touch with the natural world.
Ek likens this house design to a well-tailored suit: the tailor has to measure, ask about the wearer’s taste, and plan everything to be comfortable and pleasing.
Designing architect Boonlert Hemvijitraphan of BOONDESIGN took up the challenge set by owner Thanthatch Leesiruang: create a home that is neither cramped or stuffy.
“That was the basic concept from the start. It’s not unlike a Thai-style house in landscaping and traditional tai thun lower open space. The challenge was to make that work within the urban context. Fortunately the owner gave us a completely free hand; our job was simply to design a comfortable residence on a 90-square-meter property. The starting point was what we saw in the original landscaping here,” said Boonlert.
The property was not large, and its location right in the center of a capital city was seriously limiting. How to build a comfortable residence here? The garden/orchard greenery was used as a tool to create a sense of spaciousness. Instead of the house spreading outwards toward the fence, it rose vertically as a 2½-storey home with tai thun lower space used as carport and multipurpose area, the rest of the property becoming a relaxing, park-like space.
The large garden was set up to the south to get the best breeze and the best shade from plants and trees. The garden is planted on soil raised 1.2 meters higher than before to be level with the 3-meter height of the living room.
The first floor has a high “double volume” ceiling for more natural light and ventilation. A steel staircase rises from the living room to the mezzanine, which holds a workroom and guest bedroom, and up to the second floor, the owner’s private space. The single staircase up from the carport connects everything from tai thun space to top floor.
Mezzanine walkway with banister and protective gratingSteel is the primary building material, but natural materials such as bamboo are also important. Bamboo shades cover the house façade, filtering sunlight, protecting against rain, giving privacy from outside view, yet still allowing good ventilation. “We used steel not because we especially wanted to use steel, but because it was light, and we wanted that quality. Each material has its own particular value. Coming up with a principle means coming up with the quality we want. Design is a value in itself.”
The architecture of this house reflects modern times. It’s surrounded by the natural environment people long for, so no matter chaotic and confused the outside world, in this home there’s a mood of relaxation and contentment: it’s just a great place to live.
The houses in this subdivision all looked the same when his parents brought him here as a child; now he’s renovated this one into a hip, modern structure with 200 square meters of usable space on a property of 400 square meters.
/// Thailand /// Story: Foryeah! /// Photography: Nantiya Busabong /// Owner: Roj Kanjanabanyakhom /// Design: Atom Design Co., Ltd.
“After studying abroad I lived in a condo for years, but modern urban life is too full of needless accessories, so I finally came back to this house for its serenity and privacy. I like peace and quiet, listening to music, watching movies, that’s enough,” said Roj Kanjanabanyakhom.
An architect himself, he was the designer and construction supervisor. Since the house was in an old subdivision there were a lot of problems: leaks and seepage, rusty pipes, etc, even asbestos tile, now recognized as carcinogenic. The structure had to be almost completely torn down to its basic frame: pillars, beams, and a couple of walls.
To suit Roj’s lifestyle, striking improvements were made in both the new building in front and the old house: gray cobblestone contrasting with bright orange brick walls, angle-patterned bricks with ventilation spaces. Formerly an open tai thun area, half the ground floor, became his own bicycle maintenance shop, with the other half a carport. On the second floor is a hobby workshop, and above that a roof deck where support pillars are capped with metal plates in anticipation of future additions.
The 2.4-meter outside wall of the old house was demolished and replaced with tall glass windows all around for a spacious feeling. Bedrooms on the second floor were removed to create a “doublespace” area, and a projector set up behind one wall for full-size movie viewing. For the new addition in back, on the first floor are kitchen, dining room, and living room. Above, the second floor is the private area, with main bedroom, guest bedroom, and dressing room.
“There were some difficult structural and material design limitations in the old house. Parts of the old roof weren’t able to support much weight, so besides replacing the asbestos with double Roman tile we used metal purlin trusses instead of wood. To avoid joint problems where the new roof meets the old gabled one, we used steel-reinforced flat slab concrete, which will be able to hold the weight of future additions.
“Sometimes it’s easier and cheaper just to tear everything out. I renovated because I wanted to preserve the memories here,” said Roj with a smile. And so here’s a home filled with remembrance, ready to bring present and future memories into the mix.
In earlier times, as families outgrew their homes Thais used to build more houses on the same land, but this tradition has been disappearing. Nowadays, grown children move away into single-family houses of their own. In this case, though, Manit and Yanrak Manithikhun decided to build future homes for their children on their own property.
“We knew our sons would want their private space, and we had plenty of land, so we built right here. The three new buildings include one common house where the whole family can get together. It’s for entertaining guests, too. And I wanted an herb garden. Thinking forward to retirement!” said Manit.
Like traditional Thai houses of former times, Baan Phu Patra, as Spacetime Architects’ latest creation is called, rises above the “tai thun” space below so cooling breezes can blow through, also giving a magnificent view of Nakhon Ratchasima’s Khao Yai mountains.
/// Thailand /// Story: Ektida N. /// Photography: Soopakorn Srisakul, Nantiya Busabong /// Design: Spacetime Architects by Kannika Ratanapridakul and Piriya Thailimthong
Kannika Rattanapreedakul of Spacetime Architects named this house “Baan Phu Patra” after the Khao Yai housing development where it’s located. At the owner’s request, the house is not too big, feels relaxed and comfortable, and has space for a kitchen vegetable garden, as the architects came up with what they call the perfect definition of a “modern tropical house.”
From outside it has a stylish, trendy appearance: clean, straightforward lines, with no wasted design or anything to make it look out of place with its surroundings.
Design began with an analysis of the 1200 square meter property and its surroundings: a sleep slope, with the best view blocked by a neighboring house and the housing project’s utility building. Spacetime’s design called for the house to be raised old-style, up 3.4 meters above a traditional Thai tai thun open space. This not only corrected for the slope, but also provided a much wider view of Khao Yai than another plan might have allowed.
The second design stage involved positioning of elements for the best functionality. The house is aligned east to west. The second floor gets a panoramic view of Khao Yai to the east. The staircase up into the house itself is set at the rear, or west end of the house, leading into a large multipurpose area containing kitchen, living area, and dining area, two bedrooms – to the left and right – and out to a 5-meter-wide balcony designed for a comfortable, relaxing experience.
Once the functional setup was in place, the next design step was to select the right construction materials for Baan Phu Patra to fit its natural context in a unique and interesting way. A steel framework was used, with natural wood flooring except for kitchen and bath, where the cast-in-place concrete slab floor was topped with smooth-colored granite. These very disparate materials work well with each other to add a feeling of authenticity and define the different functionalities of different interior areas without the use of separating walls.
With form, proportion, and function all well thought-out, Baan Phu Patra blends right into its natural surroundings, a home perfectly suited to its context with an elegantly simple design.
This 7-storey concrete house, blanketed with a refreshing green cascade of ivy, has angles everywhere, with one especially remarkable section dominated by slanting red posts and beams.
/// Thailand /// Story: Ath Prapunwattana /// Photography: Rithirong Chanthongsuk /// Design: Pro Space Co.,Ltd. by Chatvichai Phromthattadhevi
Chatrawichai Phromthattawethi, interior decorator and owner of the company “Pro Space,” lived in a two-storey building for 15 years before finding it too small and building a new place on a nearby property. On that limited space he built upwards rather than out, in fact seven storeys up.
“Designing, we weren’t thinking primarily about style, but utility. The space was narrow, so we built tall. Then with a 4-storey townhouse next door we figured an ordinary building would seem too cramped, so we made the building structure visible: posts, beams and deep spaces into open walls creating dimensions of light and shade, adding panache with one section of oddly slanting posts painted red, set off with flowers here and there.”
Even closed in next to a small street, Chatrawichai’s design still provides nearly 1,000 square meters of usable space.
“Depending on use, each floor has a different height. The ground floor, with garage and kitchen, is moderately tall. The second floor is an office, and the third holds the butler & maid’s room, all normal height. We use the fourth floor for entertaining, so it’s spacious, with a higher ceiling than the others. The fifth floor has a guest bedroom and storage space, the sixth is my bedroom, and the seventh floor holds a living room and dining room set at different levels according to usage; the living room has a higher ceiling. On the roof is a deck, swimming pool, and garden.”
Chatrawichai agrees that this is an unusual design for him, with its red exterior posts at odd angles and interior ceilings displaying working utility systems, plus use of unusual materials such as metallic structural highlights in certain spots, creating a much different residential feeling than before and incidentally requiring a lot of detailed work during construction.
For the interior, furniture and décor mostly come from the old house, a mix of many styles – modern, classic, and antique – matched with exceptional taste because the colors were chosen in advance, primarily framed in a context of gray and black. Colorful ornaments such as cloth or bright pictures hung on the wall add vitality.
“Coming from a two-storey house, at first living here took some getting used to. It was a tall building, but definitely no condo; how to live in such a place? In the end, though, we found it wasn’t all that different,” Chatrawichai adds.
Steel framed homes can be stylishly fashionable. Building with steel is preferred for speed, strength, and durability. It is capable of encapsulating any architectural design and style, and adapting to any personal needs and tastes.
/// ASEAN ///
Where time is money, steel construction offers many advantages over traditional construction technology. Steel is a versatile material applicable to all structural uses, from framing to floor joists to roofing materials. Steel structures are ideal if you like loft style homes. Here are 10 cool steel framed homes that we like.
These identical homes belonging to brothers in the Changprasert family are built on a trapezoidal lot with the wide side in front. “The original 30-year-old houses were seriously deteriorating, so the question was whether to renovate, or completely rebuild. In the end, demolition and rebuilding won out. This gave us all the functionality and the appearance and décor that we were looking for,” said Win (Totsawin Changprasert), the young IT professional showing us his house.
“From my reading I already liked the modern minimal style, and so looked online for architects who do this. Office AT seemed to be a perfect choice, so we invited them to design our new houses.”
With identical façades, the houses each have 350 square meters of usable space. Considering property size limitations, the architects set the houses next to each other in back, on the narrow side of the trapezoid. The wide front is dominated by a lush green garden, and a walkway connects Win’s and his younger brother’s house before extending out to the fence.
Since there had been serious flooding here, the architects created a modern adaptation of the traditional Thai house, raised above a lower space (known as a tai thun). This helps with air circulation while also providing a utility area and a room for the housekeeper.
“These two houses are similar, but differences reflect the owners’ personalities. Win’s “double-volume” ceiling makes his living room feel really spacious. His brother has a wide private balcony on the third floor giving a “void” spatial effect for viewing the surrounding greenery through wide-panel glass windows,” says the Office AT architect.
Although their staircases are on opposite sides, the houses have the same functional setup. The second floor holds living room, dining room, and kitchen. “A unique feature of Win’s living room is the wall framing the flat screen TV: it blocks the view from outside, with high glass walls to the right and left letting in light and offering great views. There’s also a skylight for natural illumination of the indoor staircase. Rooms on the third floor are directly connected, no separating walls, which makes for a natural flow of space and a relaxing feeling.”
The staircase up to the third floor in Win’s younger brother’s house is enclosed in clear glass panels, dispersing natural light all throughout the house, relaxing to the eyes.
“Before, when there was such a clear separation of house and garden, it felt dark and dull inside. For a taste of nature we had to walk out from the house into the garden. Now, with glass walls opening wide on the greenery in front, we can hang out here, watch TV, work, whatever, it’s just more relaxed,” Win adds with a smile.