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Suppapong Sonsang; A Furniture Designer Who Grows Forests to Fulfill His Timber Needs

Suppapong Sonsang; A Furniture Designer Who Grows Forests to Fulfill His Timber Needs

Some ten years ago, Suppapong Sonsang rose to fame as a laureate of the Designer of the Year award. Apparently content with living a green lifestyle, he kind of vanished from the limelight and got into a different field, something more upstream.

He brought 70 rai of destroyed forest land back to life in a bid to generate enough timber supplies for Jird Design Gallery, his very own furniture brand. Committed to sustainable growth, he viewed the mammoth undertakings as crucial for the future of his career as designer.

Lesson 2 Understanding Wood / Learn from Suppapong Sonsang, a furniture designer of Jird Design Gallery.

In a recent meet-up with room Magazine, he said: “The design profession is dependent upon purchase orders and customer hiring contracts. To do a good job or run a business well, skill alone isn’t enough. You also need a readiness to accomplish the task, reliable resources, even luck, et cetera. So I set out to find a green route for business to continue to perform for a long time; meanwhile, relying less on hiring contracts and more on selling direct to end-users. I viewed the practice of growing and caring for timber forests as a basic occupation with some hope for the future.” 

Suppapong Sonsang

Suppapong started his first new growth forest at Kamphaeng Phet Province in lower northern Thailand and gradually expanded to Nong Pho, Ratchaburi. The latter has since served as his headquarters with storage facilities for partly prepared timber and logs. There’s a sawmill with 4-5 types of machinery, where logs are cut, sawn into lumber and packaged ready for delivery. As business grew, he converted his humble abode in the forest into a showroom.

As he put it, “Timber is a valuable resource. So I focus on planting only trees that have economic importance. Little by little, I searched for knowledge and experimented with various methods in a bid to achieve the desirable outcome. Eventually, I obtained not only the resources needed for furniture making, but also a workplace with the atmosphere of a nature reserve. Before anything else, it’s about the better quality of life.” 

Suppapong Sonsang

Suppapong’s forests are home to valuable ecosystems. Apart from hardwood trees that are grown for timber, he also set aside some areas for planting crops. His work on the farm encompasses three aspects of product manufacturing, including design, human resources, and forest resources management.

Sharing his work experience, Suppapong said: “I’m responsible for design while others are busy taking care of things, ranging from caring for the forest floor and planting new trees, to grafting branches and growing plants from seeds in nurseries. Everyone deserves a good quality of life. For people in the community who’re working with us, it’s an opportunity to learn new skills in carpentry and agriculture. The knowledge that they gain as apprentices will be an asset beneficial to their future career.

Suppapong Sonsang

“Meantime, the forests that we grow ensure that our furniture business will be adequately resourced for a long time to come, in other words until death do us part. It will be another 20 to 30 years down the road before some of the trees become fully grown and ready for harvesting. That said, it’s a guarantee that our community will still have timber supply lasting us a hundred years, or after old growth forests have been depleted.”

“While others invest in big manufacturing facilities and expensive machines, we put our money in land that we need to grow forests for timber. Oftentimes, people asked why we chose land covered with trees and undergrowth instead of beautiful pieces of property elsewhere. Well, it may be of little value to them. But it’s a great asset both for us and for the community 20 years down the road. We will have access to timber that our business needs. To begin with, it’s about growing healthy forest ecosystems. That means you need the initial capital, and patience. You have to give it all your energy to succeed. Been there, survived that. And now the rest is easy,” said Suppapong laughing.

Suppapong Sonsang

“From then until now, little went as planned. Success came from resilience and the ability to adapt to new challenges. The workers that we hired from the community had no carpentry skill. So we started training them while the trees still had a long way to grow and mature. We believe that by the time our forests are ready for harvesting, our helping hands will have become well versed in woodworking. In the meantime, we just have to keep up with design trends. Together, they constitute parallel paths to future growth.”  

Suppapong Sonsang

Above, a bench seat from the KOOPREE collection by Suppapong Sonsang is made of timber from KrathinThepa (scientific name: Acacia mangium) a species of fast growing tree in the pea family Fabaceae. Harvested at 7 years of age, the tree provides an alternative to hardwood commonly used in furniture making.

Suppapong Sonsang of Jird Design Gallery is one of subject matter experts being featured in an online curriculum titled, “A Passion for Woodworking”. It’s part of Baan Lae Suan Classroom, a collaboration with the Creative Economy Agency (Public Organization), or CEA. The program is designed for people interested in woodworking and those looking to acquire basic carpentry skills through furniture making using basic tools and community resources. Plus, it provides tips for developing a career in creative business. The program is hosted by Jeremiah Pitakwong, Editor of Baan Lae Suan Magazine.

Suppapong Sonsang

In the previous video, we presented a lesson on the Milking Stool by distinguished designer/carpenter Phisanu Numsiriyothin. In this episode, Suppapong Sonsang shows the steps in transforming homegrown timber into a beautiful bench seat. 

Source: 
https://www.baanlaesuan.com/online-program/classroom/215124.html
https://www.baanlaesuan.com/181474/design/design-update/people/jird

Singapore’s Largest Forest Town in the Making

Singapore’s Largest Forest Town in the Making

SINGAPORE / An eco-smart city promising 42,000 new homes is poised to become the largest evergreen forest town in Singapore with the move-in date set for 2023.

Tengah the Forest Town

Designed to reduce CO2 gases that trap heat and drive extreme weather, the eco-friendly city plan features cutting-edge technologies, including water and electricity conservation features, plus an automated, enclosed waste collection system.

Revolving around the slogan “At home with nature”, the development project comprises five residential districts with plenty of gardens laid out for public enjoyment and recreation across 7 square kilometers of land. Plus, it’s a relatively short distance from water catchment areas and nature reserves.

The eco-city of Tengah, dubbed Singapore’s Forest Town, is located on what was formerly military training grounds and home to brick factories in the island’s western region.

Tengah the Forest Town

For many people, the massive project evokes fun memories of city-building video games, but this is a real-life future city master plan ever undertaken by the Singapore Housing and Development Board to create new homes, workplace and public spaces set amid safe and sustainable surroundings.

To reduce greenhouse gases, solar power and other forms of clean energy will be integrated with the comprehensive plan to keep the city cool and reduce the need for air conditioning.

Other low-impact measures in preparation include making the city center a car-free zone and the promotion of green commuting by providing safe bicycle track systems and easy access to public transportation, namely the MRT Jurong Regional Line and bus services.

Scheduled for opening in 2023, the Forest Town of Tengah will become the 24th residential project undertaken by HDB since World War II.

Tengah the Forest Town

Sources:

Singapore Housing & Development Board (HDB): https://www.hdb.gov.sg/cs/infoweb/about-us/history/hdb-towns-your-home/tengah

CNN: https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/singapore-tengah-eco-town/index.html#:~:text=Promising%2042%2C000%20new%20homes%20across,government%20since%20World%20War%20II.

Waste-Ed: https://www.facebook.com/GoWasteEd/photos/a.2678571425548059/5178235835581593/?type=3

Image: Housing & Development Board (HDB) 

Phisanu Numsiriyothin Master Woodworker Who Cares about Forests

Phisanu Numsiriyothin Master Woodworker Who Cares about Forests

A designer who’s passionate about all things made of wood, Phisanu Numsiriyothin has grown familiar with using woodworking tools at home since a very young age.

Let’s begin with building a cow milking stool. Learn from Phisanu Numsiriyothin, master woodworker and professional carpenter. / Lesson 1 Getting Started in Woodworking

Upon graduation with a degree in Visual Arts, he led a self-indulgent life for a time pushing himself beyond the limits only to find it had taken a toll on his body and mind. He soon learned that life didn’t get much better than spending the day in a woodworking studio. Life took a turn for the better after his exposure to works of outstanding artistry by big names such as George Nakashima, Sam Maloof, James Krenov, and master craftsman Saiyart Sema-ngern. Only then did his career in woodworking begin in earnest.

Phisanu Numsiriyothin / BaanLaeSuan Classroom / A Passion for Woodworking / Getting Started in Woodworking / master woodworker / professional carpenter

In a recent interview with room magazine, Phisanu said his belief in the value of woodworking came from experience that spanned more than a decade. “A designer may have considerable knowledge of chair making. But if he’s unfamiliar with splintering or tear-out, has never done wood planing or used joinery tools, then he’s only thinking of two parts of the entire process — design proportions, and graphic visuals or style. In the end, beautiful design is achieved, but it may not be the best choice for wood. Plus, ill-conceived design could result in a lot of waste that compounds the world’s garbage problem.”  

The world that he alludes briefly to is one in which a woodworker exists in harmony with natural woodlands. It’s a world where people harvest trees for timber responsibly and at the same time allow time for forests to thrive. Such an ideology can translate into a physically concrete form as is the case with “Rush Chair” by Phisanu in collaboration with the design duo, Jutamas Buranajade and Piti Amraranga, of o-d-a. They use small pieces trimmed off large trees to build the chair frame using traditional methods of wood joinery, while the seat is made of woven natural fibers dyed different shades of indigo.

Phisanu Numsiriyothin / BaanLaeSuan Classroom / A Passion for Woodworking / Getting Started in Woodworking / master woodworker / professional carpenter

If sustainable design refers to a piece of furniture that’s comfortable to sit on, easy to fix using parts sourced directly from nature, and capable of reducing negative impacts on the environment, then Rush Chair would fit that definition, a chair that’s eco-friendly in every sense of the word.

As Phisanu puts it, “If we design without focusing on just our needs and start paying attention to the environment,  the result will be very different. As for me, I focus not only on the production technique, but also on the wood being used, the tools needed to perform the task, and everything that combines to add value to woodwork.”

Rush Chair
Rush Chair

For the time being, Phisanu has relocated his fully equipped studio from Bangkok’s Buddha Puja area to Kuchinarai District in Kalasin. Here, he established a field workshop to make furniture from locally sourced materials. The villagers were available to work after the annual rice growing season had passed. So he persuaded them to join in making the Rush Chair based on design improved in conjunction with o-d-a. By making seat furniture from tree branches found in the area, Phisana subtly communicated the need to protect and preserve the environment among participating villagers. He has discovered the astounding connection between people and trees, and used it wisely promote nature conservation in the long term.

“I believe that between the chair and the trees, our home planet prefers more trees. They are crucial to the physical surroundings, far more important than my designing achievements. By realizing the importance of each and every tree, we are motivated to come up with good design and elaborate manufacturing process, and the resulting effect is worth a try.”

Phisanu Numsiriyothin / BaanLaeSuan Classroom / A Passion for Woodworking / Getting Started in Woodworking / master woodworker / professional carpenterPhisanu Numsiriyothin / BaanLaeSuan Classroom / A Passion for Woodworking / Getting Started in Woodworking / master woodworker / professional carpenter

Phisanu Numsiriyothin is one of subject matter experts being featured in an online curriculum titled, “A Passion for Woodworking”. It’s part of BaanLaeSuan Classroom, a collaboration with the Creative Economy Agency (Public Organization), or CEA. The program is designed for people interested in woodworking and those wanting to acquire basic carpentry skills through furniture making, plus ideas about using local materials and tips for developing a career in creative business. It’s hosted by Jeremiah Pitakwong, Editor of BaanLaeSuan Magazine.

Phisanu said: “A stool for milking dairy cows. It’s a basic stool, very basic and easy to build. It’s lightweight and portable. A first for anyone wanting to try his hand at woodworking. Plus it’s come a long way in terms of design history. It depends on the material we can find, or the purpose of use. This one isn’t made of wood sticks. I made it instead from a solid tree trunk. And this one from wood slabs. The method differs occasionally. Sometimes we use leftovers or cut wide planks to make legs. We’re talking about using one type of material.” 

Phisanu Numsiriyothin / BaanLaeSuan Classroom / A Passion for Woodworking / Getting Started in Woodworking / master woodworker / professional carpenter
Milking stool

 Let’s begin with building a cow milking stool. Learn from Phisanu Numsiriyothin, master woodworker and professional carpenter. Click this link to get started https://dai.ly/x7zc9y1

Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot

Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot

The homegrown architecture firm SAWADEESIGN applied innovative aircraft cabin ideas to give this narrow townhouse a complete makeover. The small family home sits sandwiched between two low-rise buildings in the heart of Tan Binh District. They named the project “303 House.”

Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City

Townhouse is a typical housing type omnipresent throughout urban Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. By law, places of residence with a frontage smaller than 3.0 meters are not permitted to have more than one floor.

So the only way to build is arrange all the usable spaces and functions on the same horizontal plane. The result is a renovation done right in every sense of the word.

Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City

From the outside looking in, the entire width of the house is only 2.9 meters. With the exterior walls installed, the inside space comes to just 2.7 meters wide.

Interestingly enough, well thought-out design turns an awkward narrow plot into a single-story home that’s simple with all useable spaces giving off good vibes. The bright and airy home occupies less than 90 square meters of land.

Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City

The design duo, Doan Si Nguyen and Vo Thanh Phat, decided against the most commonly used construction process. They proposed an alternative method aimed at reducing the amount of concrete used, an option that risked being rejected by investors from the get-go.

The house ceiling is made of rockwool tole about 150 mm thick. The coated tinplate is widely used in the storage industry and large warehouses for its excellent thermal insulation. Here, it’s used to make the interior living spaces comfortable day and night.

Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City

The contemporary home interior features mixed materials. Among them, grey plaster on the wall proves a perfect complement to gray epoxy paint on the floor.

Together, they provide desirable elements for a calm, peaceful home. Everywhere, furniture made of plywood is a great way to bring a natural look to the interior.

Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City

According to the architects, the secret to creating a healthy home lies in putting multiple layers of functional spaces in neat order to shield the interior from the busy street.

This is especially true in HCMC, where many homes are prone to suffer from the negative effects of outside noise and unrestricted growth of housing areas and commercial development.

Fascinatingly, aircraft cabin ideas came in handy for the townhouse built on an extremely long and narrow plot of land. It’s reminiscent to walking along an aisle between rows of seats on an aircraft. 

Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh CityModern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City

There’s a paved outdoor area in front of the house entrance that provides a place to socialize. Step inside, and you come into a corridor connecting to a living area, kitchen, and laundry room. Wall-mounted storage cabinets line one side of the aisle and beautifully organized functional spaces on the other.

Two bedrooms with a bathroom attached are tucked away further inside, plus a third at the rear of the house accessible by a small corridor with relaxing area. Where appropriate, clear roofing panels provide natural light for indoor plants, while openings in the wall keep the interior airy and comfortable without air conditioning.

Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh CityModern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh CityModern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City

Not only is the house plan tailored to the specific needs of a family of three. It’s also a great way to live a green life in the midst of the city. Here, in many instances homeowners rent the space in front of their houses to small retailers and businesses. But the residents at 303 House don’t need that kind of income.

They prefer to keep the door closed and enjoy privacy in the comfort of their home. All things considered, it’s mission accomplished.

Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh CityModern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City Modern House / Modern Skinny House on a Narrow Lot in Ho Chi Minh City

Design: SAWADEESIGN / https://www.sawadeesign.net
Lead Architects: Doan Si Nguyen and Vo Thanh Phat
Story: The Architects x Nawapat Dusdul
Photography: Quang Tran / http://quangdam.com

New Forest Park the Pride of Bangkok

New Forest Park the Pride of Bangkok

BANGKOK / As many probably already know, Fort Canning Park is one of Singapore’s largest public parks. It features nine historic gardens that are part of the “garden city” vision introduced in the mid-1990’s. Do you know that in the near future, upon completion of Phases 2 and 3 of the Benjakitti Park expansion project, Bangkok will join the ranks of ASEAN capitals with vast networks of parks to preserve local ecosystems. It represents an important step forward to increase the quality of life for many residents as well as visitors.

Bajakitti Forest Park
A graphic rendition of Benjakitti Forest Park, a future urban e cosystem in the heart of Bangkok.

Opened in 1994, Benjakitti Park underwent the first phase of renovations in 2016 on an area of 61 rai. Phases 2 and 3, which include an expansion and landscape improvements, are currently progressing on schedule. The new, updated Benjakitti Park extends over an area of 259 rai that originally was home to a tobacco manufacturing facility. Costing 652 million baht to build, the monumental forest park project is a joint enterprise involving the Finance Ministry Treasury Department, the Royal Thai Army, and the Arsom Silp Institute of the Arts, which is responsible for design.

Bajakitti Forest Park Bajakitti Forest Park Bajakitti Forest Park

The urban forest project will provide a new ecosystem that supports the quality of life in the city. It’s designed to give rise to a biological community that depends on an intricate network of water channels, which in turn is crucial to the growth of trees and shrubbery and habitats for many animal species.

Like a super absorbent sponge, the park’s unpaved grounds are capable of soaking up in excess of 128,000 cubic meters of storm water during the rainy season. Plus, it doubles as a treatment plant that produces as much as 1,600 cubic meters of treated water per day. The existing trees, 1,733 in all, have been preserved. To create a pristine forest landscape, they plan on adding a variety of native tree species, among them Lumpae (Sonneratia caseolaris), Lumpoon (Sonneratia ovate), Kheelek (Senna siamea), Sadao (Neem), Bodhi or sacred figs (Ficus religiosa), Banyan trees, Yangna (Dipterocarpus alatus), and Takhian (Hopea odorata). 

Bajakitti Forest Park
A graphic rendition of Benjakitti Forest Park, a future urban e cosystem in the heart of Bangkok.

Bajakitti Forest Park Bajakitti Forest Park

That’s not all. Currently plans are afoot to connect Benjakitti Forest Park with a trade show pavilion and three nearby museums; namely the old tobacco factory building, an urban forest life museum, and a museum in honor of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother. There will also be demonstration rice paddy fields for kids, plus bike trails and a skywalk system connecting to Lumpini Park, a landmark public green space in Pathumwan District.

Bajakitti Forest Park Bajakitti Forest Park Bajakitti Forest Park

The forest park project will bring benefits to not only the city and its people, but also healthy habitats for many animals. It provides temporary refuge to migratory bird species, a place for physical activity, and room for our children to spend more time outdoors. Most importantly, it removes pollutants and gives us clean air to breathe.

Bajakitti Forest Park Bajakitti Forest Park Bajakitti Forest Park

Benjakitti Forest Park will be open to the public in phases, the first of which is scheduled for the 12th of August this year. Access to the entire project will open around February 2022.

Source: Facebook / Army PR Center
https://www.facebook.com/armyprcenter/videos/1302628316766472/
https://www.greennetworkthailand.com/สวนป่า-เบญจกิติ/

Images:  Facebook / Army PR Center

Plant Me on the Moon

Plant Me on the Moon

The coffee shop name got its inspiration from “Fly Me to the Moon”, one of Frank Sinatra’s all-time greatest hits. A brainchild of the Bangkok-based studio Embassy of Design Territory, the serene café serving coffee and refreshments is nestled among lush tropical gardens in the heart of the city’s Lad Phrao District.

Plant Me on the Moon , cafe in Bangkok Plant Me on the Moon , cafe in Bangkok

Drawing on his experience and a remarkable aptitude for organizing events, the designer transformed an ordinary co-creating office space into a coffee shop ensconced among the trees and shrubs. The café on the ground floor is characterized by a relaxing cozy atmosphere that gives off good vibes. Vertical gardens come in handy to fulfill a dream that one day humans will be able to grow them on the Moon.

Plant Me on the Moon , cafe in Bangkok Plant Me on the Moon , cafe in BangkokPlant Me on the Moon , cafe in Bangkok Plant Me on the Moon , cafe in Bangkok

Design ideas: The outside part of the shop is made of steel scaffolds with platforms or shelves, upon which gardens of luxuriant foliage thrive. The café interior built of plywood affords ample space, while exterior glass walls protect it from the elements, let natural light shine through and increase aesthetic appeal. Wood furniture, vintage décor and garden plants have positive effects on the atmosphere and good mental health. There’s a picture of Leon: The Professional, a 1994 action thriller film, starkly juxtaposed with lush green surroundings. If you’re shopping for plant containers, there are plenty of them to buy.

Plant Me on the Moon , cafe in Bangkok

Why we love it: Like an oasis tucked away in a city neighborhood, “Plant Me on the Moon” is a perfect rendezvous to share good times with friends and loved ones. The atmosphere is just right for life, and coffee smells like fresh ground heaven, plus a collection of soothing garden music. Drop in for a nice cup of coffee, sit back, relax and enjoy the calm and peaceful greenhouse view!

Plant Me on the Moon , cafe in Bangkok Plant Me on the Moon , cafe in Bangkok

Address: 17 LadPhrao 93 off Lad Phrao Road,
Khlong Chaokhunsing, Wang Thonglang, Bangkok 10310
Open Daily 8.30 am – 8.00 pm
https://www.facebook.com/plantmeonthemoon/

 

Story: BRL
Photographs: Anupong Chaisukkasem

 

Country Villa Breathes in the Energy of Nature

Country Villa Breathes in the Energy of Nature

EN / MM

An intimate country hideaway affords a view of sugarcane fields and the lush forests of Khaoyai National Park. It sits ensconced in the misty morning mountain landscape that “Pod” Thanachai Ujjin, lead singer/song writer of the Moderndog band, calls home. His favorite hangout is a platform on the outside of the house, where he likes to sit under moonlight at 2 in the morning. Precisely, nature is on his doorstep.

Characteristic of modern tropical architecture, the house is spacious, light and breezy. The homeowner likens it to the calm and peaceful Thai temple pavilion. The brainchild of Nattapak Phatanapromchai of Erix Design Concepts, the minimalist home is aptly named “Villa Sati”, literally “House of Consciousness”, to communicate the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings.

Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa

Touched by moonlight and the starry sky, it has a roofed platform along the outside of the house that’s perfect for walking meditation, which the artist and his Mom often do together as family. Sharing his little piece of paradise, Pod said: “After moving out here, I feel as if there were more hours in the day. I rise early to go jogging, read, listen to music, and write songs.”

Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa

Their country retreat is made for a simple and peaceful life. Here, the artist and his Mom have plenty of time for their favorite pastimes – art making. The house plan is well thought out. Gable roof design proves a perfect complement to the platforms along the outside, while gorgeous open floorplans increase natural light and bring the outdoors into the home.

Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country VillaPod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa

Come in through the front door, and you find the stand-alone Butterfly Stool, a 1954 icon of Japanese industrial design by Sori Yanagi. The bedroom that looks out over the field is on the right. Straight ahead is the kitchenette that connects to a living area that doubles as multipurpose room. Nearby, a set of stairs with dark clapboard siding leads to the attic that the artist has turned into a bedroom. The farthest end of the house is open to let southeasterly winds enter, a great way to ventilate the entire home. From here, the rolling sugarcane fields and mountains beyond can be seen in full view.

Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country VillaPod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa

Floating furniture is an easy hack to establish zones in open spaces and create traffic flow in the room. Modular storage cabinets from USM have the most prominent position alongside wall-mounted abstract art by Tae Pavit and a few painted pictures by Pod’s Mom.

Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country VillaPod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa

Commenting on design details, architect Nattapak Phatanapromchai said the platforms along the outside of the house afford beautiful panoramic views of the lush mountain landscape. Large openings in the walls allow fresh air to enter, creating air flow and bringing down ambient temperature to the point there’s no need for air conditioning.

Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country VillaPod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa

Meantime, the gable roof with long overhangs protects the platforms along the outside from the elements. The architect did away with the fascia, wooden boards covering the ends of rafters, to highlight the framework supporting the roof as was the case with the Thai style of residential architecture. Roof shingles are reminiscent of ancient tiles made beautiful by special paint for a real custom effect, while cement board deck or sheathing is installed underneath to protect against leaks.  

Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country VillaPod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa

House framing for the most part consists of wood, while framed glass wall systems stand tall from the threshold to the tie beam supporting the roof. The secret to a neat and tidy house plan lies in the side posts of every doorway and glass wall frame aligning with gable-end studs both when the door is open and shut. The result is a beautiful country house with clean design in the midst of scenic surroundings.

Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country VillaPod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa

The house superstructure is built of Ta-khian timber, scientific name: Hopea odorata, a species of large trees native to Southeast Asia. Elevated 1.80 meters above ground level, the floorboard rests on steel reinforced concrete framing that’s a load-bearing foundation. The stilt house design that’s ubiquitous in tropical climates provides ventilation under the floor, a brilliant way to keep the home cool all year round. By and large, it’s a perfect example of traditional Thai house design, one that’s easy to look at and comfortable to live in.

Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa

The homeowner wrapped it up nicely. “I like the relative smallness of the house and surrounding open spaces. They’ve had a significant impact on human minds. For me, it gives vitality and enthusiasm. It fills my life with laughter and inspires exciting new ideas. It just so happens. Once I have an idea that I think has real potential, the rest is easy. Lyrics for a number of songs were written right here in this humble abode. The wide open spaces of the countryside are hugely rewarding for me as an artist.”

Story: Samutcha Viraporn
Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul

Modern Thai House Exudes Old World Charm

Modern Thai House Exudes Old World Charm

A duplex house design by EAST Architect avails natural light, sun and air flow to provide indoor thermal comfort that’s the hallmark of the ultimate tropical design.

One wing is a semi-outdoor living space roofed over with ceramic shingles in a timeless shade of white. It’s made almost entirely of wood with a balcony and the Thai-style underfloor space high enough for additional uses. The other wing boasts the stylistic characteristics of the postmodern era. To make the most of natural light, the external walls are made of glass. Upstairs a straight passageway connecting individual rooms leads to a cantilevered addition that extends 6 meters supported by a V-shaped steel rigid frame – an unusual approach to lightweight house design.

EAST Architect Modern Thai HouseEAST Architect Modern Thai House

The upper covering of a living wing is made of steel reinforced concrete slabs. The gable roof that rises above them is topped with corrugated aluminum panels to allow light to pass through. This keeps the modern tropical home well-lit by day and glowing with light and color by night. No wonder they call it “Baan Hing Hoy”, literally translated “Fireflies House”.

A piece of architecture representing the nexus between Eastern and Western cultures, Fireflies House is a design that merges Modern and Traditional in a tropical home. The house plan doesn’t sit parallel to the road in front of it. Neither does it align with property boundary lines. Rather, it’s designed to respond to wind direction and the sun’s path across the sky. That pretty much summarizes the design concept embraced by two assistant professors, Pirast Pacharaswate and Sayanee Virochrut, of EAST Architect. The design duo prides themselves on being “architects of tropical rainforests”.

EAST Architect Modern Thai HouseEAST Architect Modern Thai HouseEAST Architect Modern Thai House

Together they turned a wish into reality. The homeowner, Mr. Thanawat Yongsanguanchai, wanted to build a house for a big family, a place to spend more time in nature. He was looking for a light and airy house plan, one that’s comfortable without air conditioning. The architects responded by using a lot of natural building materials. The result was a well-thought-out design that made people feel as if they were tunneling their way into another world hidden at the rear of the property.

EAST Architect Modern Thai House

“In essence the design takes into account basic human needs and the culture in which people live. The relationship between culture and climate is one of the inevitabilities of life. It’s for this reason that the house is built with knowledge of the climate in mind,” said architect Pirast Pacharaswate.

“We think up contradictory thoughts when designing the duplex house plan. The kids belong to a new generation, but their living wing boasts certain features that are characteristic of traditional Thai style. This is contrary to the design of the parents wing, which is evidence of a new language of architecture. It sits under a roof that glows with light and color, which bespeaks the postmodern discipline of art. The upper covering of the parents wing is made of steel reinforced concrete slabs. The gable roof that rises above them doesn’t function as roof in a proper way.

“It’s our intention to present a Thai-style house under the gable roof that many consider as old-fashioned. So we use a modern building material instead. The result is a roof that’s topped with corrugated aluminum panels. It looks light, airy and very noticeable with an entirely new perception.”

EAST Architect Modern Thai House

“We learned through conversation that the homeowner preferred white, and responded with a house plan in shades of white. The children’s wing gives a powerful impression of being Thai. It’s protected by ceramic roof shingles in the lightest shade. Wood is the main building material here. Although metal is part of roof framing, the skill and craftsmanship is Thai style. The living spaces are linked by a roofed platform along the outside of the house, unlike the parents wing where spaces are connected via corridors that bespeak modern design.”

EAST Architect Modern Thai House

The children’s wing is designed for semi-outdoor living, thanks to the veranda and spacious Thai-style underfloor spaces. Proceed to the parents wing, and you come into a glass-enclosed room that’s a great way to bring the beauty of the outdoors inside. A straight corridor connects individual areas and functions reminiscent of Western-style house plans.

EAST Architect Modern Thai House Dining room

The ground floor has pantries and a dining area with sitting room. It’s dominated by a long dining table that’s custom-made. The upper floor contains mom and dad’s bedroom that projects horizontally into space. Glass walls pour natural light into the room that’s embraced by nature.

There’s a multifunctional room with wood décor ideas. An array of alternating plain and hand carved wood cabinets ooze the charm and poise of Thai style.

EAST Architect Modern Thai HouseEAST Architect Modern Thai House

The upstairs bedroom projects 6 meters into space, supported by a V-shaped steel rigid frame for a lightweight look. Floor-to-ceiling glass wall systems afford views of the landscape. Not all ceilings are horizontal. Above, the children’s bedroom boasts a ceiling that slopes in agreement with the gable roof. The front side under the gable is open to bring natural brightness inside, while accent wall ideas behind the headboard fill the room in style. There’s something quintessentially Thai in the other bedroom where the platform bed frame is wider than the mattress, an easy hack to create space for wedge pillows and the triangle pillow that’s unique to Thai culture.

EAST Architect Modern Thai HouseEAST Architect Modern Thai House

“To create a good first impression, an architectural space has to be a noticeable new phenomenon. Hence, a garden passageway is designed for people to recognize what’s unique about ceramic roof shingles as they approach the house from various distances, each resulting in different impressions. Psychologically, humans and architecture interact with each other all the time. Circulation, or human movement in and around a piece of architecture, constitutes an interaction. It’s interactive experience that creates an awareness and evokes admiration of architectural beauty,” said architect Pirast Pacharaswate.

This modern home under the gable roof evokes admiration through design and the power of storytelling about the architectural design concept that integrates traditional values, longing for nature, and great aesthetic pleasure to form a coherent whole.

EAST Architect Modern Thai House

Design: EAST architect / www.eastarchitects.com
Owner: Mr. Thanawat Yongsanguanchai
Story: Sarayut Sreetip-ard
Photography: Soopakorn Srisakul, Wasin Pummarin
Styling: Suanpuk stylist

Box-shaped House in a Mid-City Garden

Box-shaped House in a Mid-City Garden

To have more space for his three children, M.L. Varudh Varavarn (Vin) of Vin Varavarn Architects built this modern house amid a garden on a quarter-acre property in the heart of Bangkok’s Chidlom District.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Samutcha Viraporn // Photography: Soopakorn Srisakul

Box-shaped House Vin Varavarn Architects

“Children need a place with trees to run and play,” was Vin’s first thought in keeping all the original trees for the garden. Each room looks out on this great play area. “When we built the place we’d just come back from living abroad in a town house. There wasn’t really enough space for the kids there, so we made this home more about the kids than ourselves,” he told LivingASEAN.

Box-shaped House Vin Varavarn Architects

Box-shaped House Vin Varavarn Architects
The house, the balcony, and the garden are simple components of a tropical house. Although porous from wood borer beetles, these folding doors are perfectly functional. The decorative garden stones were dug up from the property.

 

One primary building material was 20-year-old teakwood from Vin’s mother’s plantation in Kamphaeng Phet, much of which had been eaten hollow by wood boring beetles and couldn’t be sold to a lumber yard.

“We figured wood like this might give an interesting look. Talking with The Jam Factory contractor Subhashok gave us some ideas. We wanted something that didn’t look too slick, but had unique character and was durable. Wood, concrete, and steel were our main building materials.”

With porous teak, it’s best to cut the wood into narrow boards, sort out the more porous ones, then use the different types in different parts of the house. Wood with no holes is used for flooring. Even though you can see into the sapwood on some, porous wood panels can be used for latticework, folding doors/windows, and ceilings, which are not usually touched by people, and they can be patched where called for.

Box-shaped House Vin Varavarn Architects
The wall separating the stairwell from the living room displays a rough concrete surface.
Box-shaped House Vin Varavarn Architects
By the stair to the 2nd floor, natural light shines into the front hall indoor courtyard. The living room is behind the wall on the right.

 

This steel-frame box-shaped house uses cement walls as artifice: for instance, the wall of rough concrete next to the parking area creates a vertical play of light and shadow on garden stone surfaces. Meantime, the living room’s big brick walls are surfaced with concrete poured in different concentrations, creating gray stripes in gentle contrast to the rough harshness of the concrete itself.

The house plan visually connects interior and outdoor spaces in a number of places: coming in the door, we first encounter an interior court with a tree, then walk around into the living area, dining space, and large open-plan pantry flanked on both sides by gardens, seeming to switch character back and forth between being indoors and outdoors. By the tree court is a latticed staircase of wood and steel leading to the 2nd floor, where we find a living area, children’s activity room, and all the bedrooms.

Box-shaped House Vin Varavarn Architects
The living room with a big sofa for family socializing. To save building expense the steel frame is light as possible, which also gives the house a light, open look.
Box-shaped House Vin Varavarn Architects
Folding doors filter light and give security and privacy. Adding to the green, plants grow along the wall by the neighboring house.
Box-shaped House Vin Varavarn Architects
Close by the open living area is a dining table where Vin does a little work most mornings. Furthest in is a long, narrow pantry-style kitchen also used for informal eating.
Box-shaped House Vin Varavarn Architects
On the 2nd floor is a children’s activity room, the surrounding glass adding openness and drawing natural light from both the interior court and the side facing the house next door.
Box-shaped House Vin Varavarn Architects
On the 2nd floor is a children’s activity room, the surrounding glass adding openness and drawing natural light from both the interior court and the side facing the house next door.

Box-shaped House Vin Varavarn Architects

“The kids have been happy here, and feel more like staying at home, so we’ve achieved a nice level of success,” added M.L. Varudh. Before the evening came we got to see all 3 of Vin’s children as they got back from school to run, play, climb, and have fun, laughing and smiling, sometimes in the children’s activity room.

Box-shaped House Vin Varavarn Architects

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Relaxing Country Lifestyle

Relaxing Country Lifestyle

From time to time, it’s good to leave a hectic lifestyle behind. Escape to the countryside and enjoy life in the slow lane. Priceless! There’s nothing like staying close to nature and being surrounded by mountains and lush paddy fields. Do something you’ve never done before. You can be a part of a local community by getting involved in farm activities.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Samutcha Virapornd, BRL /// Photography: Soopakorn Srisakul // Design: Creative Crews // Structural Engineer: WOR Consultant // Mechanical Engineer: EXM Consultant // Handicrafts: Bundanjai

Collect freshly laid eggs from the chicken coop, pick mushrooms from the nursery, and get vegetables straight from the garden. Even cook your own meals using seasonal ingredients from the community. Or treat yourself to a chicken coop sauna amidst rice fields, a spa idea you never imagine. There are plenty of reasons a farmstay is the perfect experience as you learn to live in a natural environment. Ahsa Farmstay is offering tourists a chance to stay overnight on a working farm. It’s a place to be happy and have fun as you interact with people in the community and learn about their heritage and culture of farming.

Modern Vernacular Homes

From Mueang Chiang Rai, head north towards Doi Mae Salong. About half way there, you come into Mae Chan District. Ahsa Farmstay is located on 85 Rai (33.6 acres) of land surrounded by views of the rolling terrain, fertile grounds and lush plains. The luxuriant vegetation encompassing the farm house makes the atmosphere calm and relaxing. The property owners have spared no effort in making sure visitors are happy physically and mentally as they gain an understanding of local culture and the beauty of traditional Lanna architecture.

Modern Vernacular Homes

Ahsa Farmstay is the work of Creative Crews, an architectural design firm passionate about traditional Lanna architecture. By looking at the northern heritage from a different perspective, they are able to create a home that’s modern in style and functions. This is achieved by reducing design detail and embracing the traditional principles of form and layout. The result is a home that combines privacy, comfort and convenience. Ahsa Farmstay consists of four buildings. The property owners’ home sits at the center of the rectangular floor plan flanked by two-story buildings that provide guest accommodations on the left and right wings. There are four guest rooms in all. A pavilion that’s up front by the entrance provides a place to unwind and relax, and room for activities.

Modern Vernacular Homes
Typical of house-on-stilts design, the underfloor space serves as open dining room with a kitchen hidden from view in the background. It’s equipped with stoves and facilities for food preparation. For visitors keen to experience truly country style meals, there’s a barbecue grill for cooking food out of doors.
Modern Vernacular Homes
The lodging house offers two guest rooms, one on each floor. To prevent humidity damage, the room on the ground floor is built of brick with cement plaster. The exterior is painted earth tones to blend in with its natural surroundings.

Khun Im, who oversees Ahsa Farmstay, says the design concept is inspired by a desire to be a part of the local community. This is the first phase of an on-going experiment. The farm owners are a family that reside in this community. By living on the property, they are on hand to take care of their guests at all times. Determined to preserve their way of life, they prefer not to travel some distance to work in the city. And that’s what gives rise to the farmstay project.

“We have good relationships with the community and hire local carpenters to build. They are rare these days, but we find some in the neighborhood. For quality assurance, they work under our supervision. The project is built almost entirely of wood recycled from old houses. Our architects take the time to do it right. They go through each and every piece and handpick only the ones that meet specified construction standards,” he said.

An architect on the team added, “Reclaimed wood is the main building material because it can be sourced directly from the community. It comes in handy since some villagers are willing to sell it as reusable material. In the end, it’s about finding new use for old wood and adapting it to serve new purposes. Once the villagers see that we can do it well, they adopt the idea and technique to better suit their construction needs. In the end, it adds up to the continuation of cultural heritage and preservation of traditional Lanna architecture by passing on the skill and knowledge to young people in the community.”

Besides old wood, the team is able to put other recyclable materials to good use. They include concrete roof shingles that are rare nowadays. They are made the old-fashioned way using the pedal powered pottery wheel. Also known as the kick wheel, it’s an ancient manufacturing technique that has been passed on in the local community. To prevent leaks, the roof is covered by two layers of shingles. The weathered concrete look is beautiful. That’s not all. Ahsa Farmstay is also decorated with items of handicraft and furniture sourced directly from the community.

Modern Vernacular Homes Modern Vernacular Homes Modern Vernacular Homes

All things considered, the atmosphere is warm and inviting. It gives other families in the neighborhood some idea of how they can offer a form of hospitality and lodging where guests can stay overnight at the home of locals and learn about their culture. It’s an opportunity to play host, cook food and share their lifestyle and culture. Like so, Ahsa Farmstay is planning on providing more guest rooms as demand for cultural tourism increases. And it works both ways. New lodgings will be built by local carpenters, which in turn generates supplemental incomes for the local community. In the big picture, it amounts to promoting a kind of tourism intended to support the conservation of cultural heritage, skill and knowledge in the community.

The designer wraps it up nicely. “It’s important that visitors refrain from causing changes in the community’s way of life. More than anything else, the farmstay provides the opportunity of learning something new about rural culture. Visitors are welcome to join in daily activities of locals. Architecture has a role to play for the betterment of society. The homes built by locals not only promote cultural tourism, but also contribute to efforts at sustainable development in the area.”

By looking at old Lanna architecture from a new perspective, a design team is able to create a home that’s up to date in style and functions. This is achieved by reducing design detail and embracing the traditional principles of form and layout. The result is a home that combines privacy, comfort and convenience.

Modern Vernacular Homes
The second floor unit has a bed at the center. The room is enclosed by wood paneling that slides open to get a view of the natural landscape and slides shut for privacy.

Modern Vernacular Homes

This story is from Modern Vernacular Homes Special Issue: Happiness Matters. (Available here in Thai and English)

 

Modern Vernacular Homes
Ahsa Farmstay is one of the 13 Special Homes from the Modern Vernacular Homes: Happiness Matters Issue, Thai and English version by the Baan Lae Suan Team. The issue is available now! If you are interested, please contact us. >> www.facebook.com/messages/t/Baanlaesuanbooks

Ahsa Farmstay is located on Soi Wat Mae Salong,
Soi 1, Mae Salong Village, Tambon Pa-sang,
Mae Chan District, Chiang Rai Province.
Tel: 09-7248-4674
www.ahsafarmstay.com
www.facebook.com/ahsafarmstay

 

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