Living ASEAN presents 10 modern tropical homes for an inspiration as we celebrate another year ending and a new one beginning. They focus on a beautiful blend of indoor and outdoor spaces that translates into stylish patios, cool verandas and courtyard tropical gardens. Plus, plenty of ideas to make your yard lush!
This wooden home in San Sai District, Chiang Mai Province connects 2 buildings with a high, wide open tai thun (open lower floor) featuring a long dining table and “living room” spot that gets a cool breeze the whole day.
Ae (Nuttawut) and May (Sutthida) Saylahom had scheduled ten months to build their new home, but it took more than a year to finish, until after their second son was born. Along the way a few alterations were made: a planned swimming pool, for instance, became instead a grass lawn where their young Kiri would be able to run and play with his new little brother.
Ae worked as both architect and laborer here in combining an old Lanna rice granary with the original wooden house next to it. Construction began by disassembling the old buildings: original components and materials were removed and set aside for use in new functionality envisioned in the new design. The granary’s primary structure remains: 8 large wooden pillars, with 4 pillars angled inwards for weight-bearing purposes. There is a tall main column reaching all the way through to the tie beam – a primary roof component – and another post up to the roof for ridgepole support, all set in a foundation of poured concrete to protect against moisture and ground-nesting termites.
Like a journey back in time, there is real warmth in the wooden stilt house. The eco-friendly design bespeaks the tradition and experience in the tropics. Handpicked from Living ASEAN collections, these five houses are perfect fits for hot and humid weather. Check them out.
In the midst of a verdant oasis stands a bare concrete house that blends perfectly well with a peaceful country setting.
/// Thailand ///
Story: Tawan /// Photos: Soopakorn Srisakul
“I used to live in the house next door. One day this home was up for sale, so I bought it because I liked the design and decorating materials. I did a complete makeover, turning it into the kind of dream home that I have had for a long time. Old house poles and full-grown trees were left pretty much intact. Upon completion, I sold the old house and then moved over here.”
The first building on the property is a one-story structure being used for work and receiving houseguests. In front of it lies a spacious terrace that is being used for carpentry work. Good ventilation and plenty of natural light combine to make the area ideal workspace. The interior is adorned with furniture and interesting decor materials crafted mostly of wood. Every piece fits in well with the raw appeal of naked concrete finishes in the backdrop. Plenty of wall openings help make the interior well ventilated and comfy all day.
“I designed everything myself, from basic structures to furniture to décor. I like bike riding and making road trips to see all that nature has to offer. It is about going back to the beauty of the natural habitat. Now that I own a home, I think it wise to add kind of a raw feel to it so as to blend well with the surroundings. That is the reason for choosing bare concrete finishes. I put in large windows and doors so that the garden can be seen in full view from inside,” said the owner.
Prom added that he was a big fan of DIY furniture and decorating items. Besides saving money, he could tailor every design detail to meet his specific needs. He created one-of-a kind furniture and décor items in this way. They were far from being perfect. There was unfinished look to every piece of woodwork, which further enhanced its country rustic appeal.
The second building is a big two-story residential unit. Like the first building, the main feature here is the exterior walls that are crafted of bare concrete finishes mixed with woodwork. The most stunning is the second floor balcony, which contains an opening in the floorboard that allows a Pride-of-India tree to shoot right through. It is the owner’s favorite resting space. Time goes by slowly as he sits down sipping coffee and pruning the treetop.
It is amazing to think about all the benefits that trees are giving us humans. Particularly at this concrete house, they provide the inspirations the owner need to feed his passion for wood. They make his small world an enchanting place to live and work.
“Its simple Thai style home-on-stilts design allows ample spaces underneath. The second floor features a wood balcony large enough for multiple functions. Long eaves protect exterior walls from the elements. Opaque walls are put in place where the sun’s harsh glare is too much to bear. None of the interior living spaces are exposed to direct sunlight, resulting in comfortable living conditions.”
/// Thailand ///
Story: Supachart Boontang /// Photo: Sitthisak Namkham/// Architect: Arsom Silp Institute of the Arts
Homes based on simple design are oftentimes the most comfortable to live in. That has a lot to do with finding the right balance between functionality and the house’s overall dimensions – or how big it is. Easy living can be achieved without spending a fortune on sophisticated decorative details. There is plenty of evidence in a suburban home that I am about to show you right now.
Our crew visited this home in a Rama 2 neighborhood known for its simple lifestyle. We witnessed people go about their business in ways that are distinctive to a riparian community. We also noticed that change was just around the corner. The home’s design and build quality represent a confluence of ideas between traditional wisdom and modern technology. Equally interesting is the home’s journey through time. Let’s hear it from the owners, Charatsri Sribumrungkiat.
“I acquired this piece of land thanks to assistance from Arsom Silp Institute of the Arts. It was part of an effort to provide affordable housing for the institute’s instructors. The program has aided teachers in buying real estate at cost price. This one is known as Baan Bang-gru, which means teacher’s home,” the owner explained.
Nanthapong Lertmaneethaweesap, of Arsom Silp Institute of the Arts, designed the three-story home. As he put it:
“In my opinion, this piece of land has great potential. It has good views both of the lake and the canal. The front façade sits facing south and the house is oriented along the east-west axis. This enables it to get full benefits of southerly winds. The home fits in well with a typical riparian setting. It’s simple house-on-stilts design allows ample spaces underneath. The second floor features a wood balcony large enough for multiple functions. Long eaves protect exterior walls from the elements. Opaque walls are put in place where the sun’s harsh glare is too much to bear. None of the interior living spaces are exposed to direct sunlight, resulting in comfortable living conditions.”
The home sat on a 120-square-wah piece of land and was built on a budget some 20 percent less than the average home of the same size. This was possible because as much as 90 percent of lumber supplies came from reclaimed wood and other recyclables. New lumber accounted for only about 10 percent. His sister was good at finding recyclable ideas and putting them to good use around the house. That not only saved a lot of money, but it also filled the home with cool pieces of furniture.
The house raised on concrete piles provides ample multi-use spaces underneath. The open ground floor means everything is easily accessible from here, be it the little lake in front of the property or the peaceful waterway behind it. It is the area that is used all day every day for relaxing, dining, watering and pruning plants. Correct orientation ensures the home receives full benefits from natural ventilation that keeps it cool even during summer months.
Originally the owners had intended to build a two-story home but later decided to raise it on concrete piling. The makeover resulted in the first floor becoming second, and the old second becoming third. There are good-sized seating spaces on the second floor along with dining area and kitchen that will be used if there is flooding. The main kitchen is on the ground floor. The third floor is reserved for three bedrooms and a Buddha room.
The exterior walls are inspired by rice storage buildings, in which vertical studs are installed on the outside and horizontal wood palettes on the inside. The edge joint technique that has existed for a long time ensures the wall is water impermeable during rains.
In a nutshell, this has been a home designed to fit in well with nature. The interior spaces are uncluttered in keeping with the minimalist style, while the exteriors showcase the architecture and waterfront living that are quintessentially Thai.