There was already a residence built here, but it wasn’t designed with the evolving needs of such a big family in mind, so a new space was created, a new waterfront home where everyone could come together and guests could spend the night.
The steel used for columns, beams, stairs, and balconies is surplus material from a large construction business belonging to the owner himself. “I had to scale the entire house to fit all that material,” said architect Kasin Sonsri, of Volume Matrix Studio as he spoke about the design challenges.
This Ayutthaya home is put together to give the feel of a traditional Thai house, with its high tai thun to use as a multi-purpose courtyard, broad eaves reaching out, living area open and inviting to the outside breeze, house raised up to catch views of the river and the garden below. There’s a wide porch, an add-on extending out from the big house. Massive posts and beams are designed to showcase their structural utility as a part of the house, as do the steps up into the dining room, the walkways, the outside porch, and the rain gutters spilling water through a steel grate. All these elements combine to give a unique contemporary look to this house of steel and wood. The interior décor is simple. The second floor features an “open plan” separation of usable space: walls open up, reaching through from the kitchen into a large dining nook and from there into the living room area.
Step up onto the third floor, and surprise! The décor completely changes and it’s as if you’ve suddenly dropped into a Japanese home, where the style of mats, windows, and doors all tell you why the owner named the house “Sala Zen.” In this room is a built-in cabinet where bedding is stored so that guests can easily come spend the night. Outside is a roof deck garden highlighted by an Onsen hot tub in an outdoor private spot that can’t be seen from the garden below.
This home is composed of many elements, but they all blend to make this a truly Thai residence, a steel-framed waterfront house that’s warm and familial, fits perfectly into its context, and offers the experience of comfortable living with natural light and breezes and great views all around, on this small Ko Rian soi in Ayutthaya Province.
Owner Chamnan Chatchawalyangkul says, “At my age, I really needed to make this happen while I was still strong enough to get around. I don’t want to be a burden on my kids when I’m not so capable anymore, living in a cramped room with them worrying about me all the time. I needed to plan in advance to have a house where I can take care of myself. And the house will eventually belong to the kids anyhow.”
Chamnan’s design is spare and open, with excellent ventilation. With everything on the same level, each room is accessible by wheelchair. One special place is a karaoke room for him and his friends. Architect Jim (Teerachai) Leesuraplanon tells us, “Chamnan said he’d always lived in a rowhouse, a limited, safe space. Some people might want a house in the middle of an open lot to be open all around, but I think about safety, too. This is why we put the brick wall in front, and the iron bars, barriers that still allow light and air to pass through. I’d summarize the design I had in mind with the three words ‘balance,’ ‘blend,’ and ‘believe,’ expressing a balanced life, cause and effect, and faith.”
Standing in a rural field with a road in front, the house opens out on a rubber tree orchard in the rear. Simplicity is the foundation of the design: a balance between vertical and horizontal lines and surfaces, no nooks or ridges to collect dust, and elemental materials such as concrete, wood, metal, brick, and gravel. A metal frame lifts the roof at an angle to break the force of the wind. The floor is raised above the ground, facilitating maintenance work on utility systems beneath. The front wall is a striking display of BPK brick, a local Ang Thong material, laid in a unique arrangement to create beautiful patterns of light and shade, with an additional layer of sliding glass windows for safety. Around the house is laid a path of river gravel, so someone in the house can easily hear a person walking outside.
The big central living room is a great place to relax, but the real heart of the house is the big porch. When the folding doors are opened, the room opens up, and it’s much like an old-time Thai house, with the added benefit of a great view of the gorgeous rubber forest, just as the original design envisioned.
Out of the edge of a sun hemp field rises what looks to be a traditional huean isaan (Northeastern Thai house). But this home, set in a shady, woodsy atmosphere, fragrant with the aromas of a Thai house and the fun-filled rhythms of Thai family ways, is fully adapted to contemporary ways of life.
After Sakda and Orapin Sreesangkom had lived 20 years in a condo, they designed this eco-friendly house to find an adaptation of Thai family life that could suit the modern age, and to build environmental awareness in themselves and their children.
The ground floor design echoes the traditional tai thun lower space found beneath Thai houses. A porch reaches outwards to fill the usual roles: entertaining guests, socializing. Up close you’ll see it’s more like 3 houses connected by one deck, each one with wide eaves blocking sun and rain, but with a twist: the underside insulation is “rammed earth,” La Terre’s innovative cooling solution that rapidly absorbs and diffuses heat and is made from organic, renewable materials. Sakda and designers Arsomsilp Community and Environmental Architects shared the same vision.
The huean isaan takes over in spirit, though, with its outward image evoking a cultural memory reflected in the playfulness of the three boys, Chris, Gav, and Guy, bringing cheer to every corner of the house: playing in the attic, sliding down polished planks beside the stairway, and everyone’s favorite: the sky deck, accessible from anywhere in the house.
The heart of the home is the living room: it’s spacious, with bar counter, dining area, and sofas for relaxing, sized 7 X 11 meters, and with no support pillars blocking the view within. It was designed to mirror the look and function of the tai thun, a space that brings everyone together to do whatever they like to do best, as individuals or a group.
The building foundation supports a raised deck all around the house. This keeps slithering things and garden creepy-crawlies from coming into the house, at the same time creating good ventilation below. The extra area for sitting, stretching the legs, or walking out into the garden is one more bonus.
Sakda’s deep attachment to the traditional huean isaan it what brought this all about. That, and the family’s courage in leaving the convenience of condo life behind them to design, build and live in a completely different way, growing their own garden, and creating a new home that could be passed down to the next generations.
A large intergenerational family calls this house home. With family members from 8 to 84 years old, what stories it tells! Here belongings passed down across nearly a century give a sense of “Thainess” to every corner of its modern design.
Long-time community worker Patama Roonrakwit, Case Studio architect who designed and owns the house, created it from her knowledge of the ways and tastes of all its residents in their old home. In a unique adaptation and fundamental design difference here, she preserved an old wooden house Pong’s grandfather had built, hiring Chinese craftsmen to raise it up to the second floor of the central building so family members could continue to experience its warmth. Besides this, the home contains the offices of Case Studio Architecture, Ed The Builder Contracting, her brother’s tour company, sister’s music school, and guest rooms where friends can stay.
All this had to fit in a space of 1 rai (.4 acre), a narrow, long north-to-south lot. The building divides into seven sections, some of which are open, verandah-like corridors that give an angular definition to the space, trapping the wind and making for good air circulation throughout.
Vietnamese architecture studio, Tropical Space, has designed a new modern tropical house, made from brick and concrete in Vietnam’s Long An province. Inspired by the Vietnam traditional structure, the bare brick house is located on a land parcel of 750 square meters, accompanied by 3 separate spaces and slope roof while using a modern and strong architectural language.
The thing that never changes is that most Tropical Space’s design works make use of bricks partly because they are inherently Vietnamese material and indigenous to the area. At the same time, with a deep understanding of Vietnamese culture and climate, they are committed to the use of environment-friendly building practices and sustainable material selection.
The Long An House has designed for hot and humid climate and is maximizing the ventilation efficiency by dividing the roof into two parts and having a court yard; then allocating two corridors to connecting the roof. This way has created a court yard and big walls. These porous walls can allow breeze to flow through the house.
The Vietnam traditional house is stretched from front to back creating continuous functional spaces. These spaces’ boundaries are estimated by light with different intensity and darkness. With this layout, the wind can flow through the house in every season.
The front yard of the house is made by the hollow clay which can absorb the rain and cool down the floor in summer heat. Next to the yard is a buffer space which created the light transition from the yard to the living room, dining room and bedroom.
The kitchen area, located in the north side along with functional spaces, is suitable for traditional cooking and spending precious time with family.
The mezzanine accommodates with two bedrooms. All spaces between relaxing area, reading area and a long corridor are connected, having two stairs on both ends because the design team wants to have a continuous space between the functional areas inside and outside the house, so that the children can play and move freely, throughout the house without being confined by separate walls.
The townhouse is a common type of building in Thailand, especially in Bangkok. Home owner and architect Narong Othavorn grew up in one, always thinking of ways it could be better designed. Eventually he and his wife Pim Achariyasilpa decided to create their own home by renovating a 30-year-old townhouse in the Si Phraya neighborhood.
The building combines two adjacent townhouses into one. Narong kept the original wrought-metal façade, modifying the original metal entrance door with a mixed frame of wood and steel, leaving the next-door side the entrance to a fourth-floor warehouse. A picture window in the living room brings in natural light onto washed gravel walls that lead down to a small garden behind the house, inspiration for the “doublespace” mezzanine.
The doublespace ceiling isn’t only about making the lower level look good: it supports the open plan design. Glass panels in the dining nook of the mezzanine above extend a feeling of comfort to every space in the house. From the mezzanine there’s a continuous view through glass partitions out to the garden behind the house, and there’s steady circulation of air from front to back. Townhouses are apt to feel cramped, but not this one! The light is different in each area, but light is what connects everything.
“These things came from our own personal tastes. Pim likes well-lit spaces. Me, I like indirect light. So with a house for the two of us we had to get the division of space just right, using the light available in each area. The lower floor is bathed in a subdued natural light; upstairs the living room brightly lit through the front window. Moving back to the dining area and bar, the light is dimmer. Go upstairs to the bathroom and dressing areas and it’s lighter again, suiting the specific limitations and characteristics of each space.”
“Small, but spacious” is how both owners refer to this house: better than adequate, the size is really perfect. Not so small as to be cramped. Everywhere some things catch your eyes up close and others at a distance. The home offers a master class on how townhouse renovation can work with limited areas to create special, interesting spaces. Even though adjoining buildings make side windows impossible, careful arrangement of space and windows in higher levels give this house a beauty that is anything but ordinary.
The tree-filled beauty of the great outdoors makes for a relaxing place to live, which is why so many want this. Among these is the Norateedilok family, who made the dream a reality with this single-story modern-style house in a verdant forest of rubber trees.
Architect/Owner Nat (Rakchai Norateedilok) built this house for his mother, who wanted to be near her grandparents in Phatthalung Province. Here is a place near the rubber orchards she loves which she can call home and where she can socialize with friends of her generation.
“There used to be a rice storehouse here,” said Nat. “The rubber orchard was planted later, and the trees had grown big and beautiful, so we decided to build the house here. Also, the front area is near the original main house kitchen, so there was no need to build a new kitchen. Stucco walls and a slanted black steel roof give it a smooth, simple look. The house’s 43 square meters hold a bedroom, bathroom, and living room.
“This house is on a ‘footing-style’ foundation. I put free-standing, unattached posts in the earth before adding floor beams and posts; this helps create good air flow. I pretty much left the interior planning to Mom’s preferences, so the design is for simplicity and ease of use.”
The location, in a rubber plantation, made choice of construction materials an important consideration. Nat primarily used concrete and real wood to give the house a look to match the surrounding environment. Synthetic wood was used where necessary, which also helped with the budget. Construction was done by local builders in only 4-5 months, so Nat was able to supervise the work himself and ensure the budget not exceed 700,000 baht.
Nat’s mother was in charge of the interior décor. In selecting furniture she kept the number of pieces to a minimum, just what was necessary to be able to relax in a clean, orderly place and feel close to nature. The resulting house is wonderfully livable and comfortable.
“ReGEN House,” Pankwan Hudthagosol’s home, was designed as a modern residence for a multigenerational family. Built on the same property as his father’s house, its concept echoes his father’s belief that the gift of warmth and closeness can show us how to think and live, and both welcomes and provides a foundation in life for young Mena, the newest family member. It began with a great design from EKAR Architects.
The four-storey building on about ¼ acre of land has an interior space of 1600 meters. Its L-shaped layout opens on a green courtyard facing the forest-like garden at “Grandpa’s” house, connecting views for the people of three generations.
The first floor holds a carport, maid’s bedroom, and rooms for swimming pool equipment and other services. The heart of the house is the second storey, where a wide balcony/deck taking up a full half of the floor space is used for family recreational activities. This floor is designed to give the sense of being at ground level, as it reaches out to a “green roof” planted with ground cover seemingly floating atop a gazebo rising from the garden below, and with a swimming pool right there giving the feeling of an old-time streamside home.
Time and budget allowing, it’s not hard to find a Chao Phraya riverside hotel in Bangkok for a night’s stay. What’s harder is to find a place rich with art and an atmosphere that makes you feel at home while taking you back in time to an earlier age in the river’s history.
This 10-room contemporary hotel with a taste of “Thainess” stands on 100 square meters in a tiny alley just off Chiang Mai Street, in the same neighborhood as the fascinating tourist destination Lhong 1919. “Amdaeng,” the hotel’s name, belonged to a fabled woman from the past and was suggested by the “Amdaengkhlee” on a former owner’s land deed from the Rama V era.
All the main architectural elements inside and out are painted vermilion: posts, beams, floors, walls, ceilings, so that looking from the other side of the river it stands out clearly from its surroundings. Coming in from the other side you approach the entrance through a maze of alleyways, as the scene gradually opens up to reveal a red building that seems to be composed of separate sculptures joined together to become one grand form in which the architect envisioned people living.
Inside is a restaurant with a quiet calm feeling, lowering the dial on the red, and also more masculine: The feminine “Amdaeng” calls for some male balance, so the restaurant is named “Nye,” meaning “mister” in Thai. The restaurant materials and décor are simple and straightforward but rich with art, bringing to mind the phrase “blue and white,” for the indigo-patterned tile of China favored by Chinese social clubs and found everywhere in old China. Up above is a fabulous roof deck with a sort of “grandstand” for viewing the river rising upwards in tiered circles like the chedi of a Thai temple. In the future this area will be a nighttime bar.
Guest room décor shows a mix of styles reflecting Thai as well as other cultures: Chinese, European, Indian. To recall an earlier era when the dominant cultures were mixing in a formative way, aging techniques are used to alter the look of the glass, the floor tile is dimmed with a charcoal color, antique furniture is used, and remodeling has added beauty and refinement to an atmosphere of bygone days so as to live up to the catchphrase, “The most romantic hotel in Bangkok.”
When people hear the recommendations of design analysts at a world-class fair such as Maison&Objet each year they sit up and take notice. In 2018 all these analysts are in agreement that the power of digital technology is dominating lifestyle trends, turning living spaces into showrooms.
/// GLOBAL /// Story: MNSD /// Photography: Maison&Objet
“Digital technology and Instagram’s popularity have changed consumer behavior. Now everyone can be a trendsetter. Consumers don’t want to talk about brands, they want to experience the product itself.”
A team of design trend analysts led by Vincent Grégoire, of the world-famous agency NellyRodi, finds that financial crises and the digital revolution have had an enormous effect on consumer behavior. Where brand loyalty was once given without question, now consumers themselves control the discussion and influence sales through the internet. They can get product data, compare prices, make comments, rate with stars, and become marketing partners the brands are unable to ignore.
Home Becomes Showroom
When one such consumer wants to share data or pictures of products, they do their posting from their own home, making it the place where inspiration is born. The consumer becomes art director, designer, architect, merchandise display department, marketing department, and possibly an ambassador for the brand. Music is added, spots within the home are on display as the home becomes a social media showroom for launching product reviews.
This showroom trend is a sign of our growing willingness to open up our private lives to the public. Maybe we want to create a beautiful picture, and after the creation it’s already obsolete when you’ve told it. People would rather touch it, experience it, actually living the story as it’s happening: “story-living” instead of storytelling. This is what we call “showroomisation”: every space becomes a showroom. What moves the consumer nowadays is not a brand or product, but those consumers themselves, from their participation in product and brand creation.
In any case, people react in opposite ways to this gradual trend of sharing private space through online social media, Some completely turn off the digital world, living life anonymously in a secretive way, a phenomenon called “digital detox.”
Hanger Bar, Shelf, Mirror – Furniture for the Reviewers
This showroom trend directly affects modern life. Since it involves internal design, it’s often made up of showcase-like items: hanger bars, glass backdrops, shelves, mirrors, maybe a walk-in wardrobe, clothes, etc., all artistically arranged.
Very often transparent materials are used to highlight the work. Walls are used to hang pictures, dishes, or other ornaments. Humanity becomes the subject, with portraits, puppets, and masks. Even carpets and lamps have personality, as the Facebook experience draws them in to become part of our the home.
Home owners are collectors and curators at the same time, as they mix and match products of various brands in personal forms and styles and arrange them around the home as if they’re just waiting to be an Instagram picture. This is part of how identity is created in the online world. Products and brands are presented in a way that’s easy to understand. The brand is right there, speaking for itself, and that gives it more influence.
Retail Shops that Inspire Passion
“These days business needs to build passion quickly. Shops aren’t just places to set out merchandise. Customers want to actually experience products, so they can write and share their own reviews with each other.”
Design trends that pump life into businesses are making shops more homelike. because customers want spaces where they can relax, experience products, and talk about them with friends right away. The fashion currents of the world have already changed direction: no more are there such things as good or bad taste. High-priced design work often intentionally has the look of cheap bric-a-brac. Business should connect with the spirit and feeling of these fashion trends, for a sensation of surprise and the new directions that are here.
And this will be made tangible in Inspirations Space at the Maison et Objet Fair from 19 to 23 January in Paris, France.
Inspirations Space will present these trends in a place that encourages relationships among visitors through fresh experiences. The exhibition area is packed with tables filled with examples illustrating these currents of change, trends that are coming on strong. This won’t have much in common with the peace and quiet of traditional exhibitions. Here’s your chance to step back and get an overview of what it’s like and give your own opinions. Why do you love or hate this trend or that? Hey, it’s what all the cool social network kids are doing!