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W39 House: A Hillside Home Renovation That Brings the Outdoors in

W39 House: A Hillside Home Renovation That Brings the Outdoors in

/ Ampang Jaya, Malaysia /

/ Story: Sarayut Sreetip-ard / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul /

Built on a slope, this three-story home renovation project sits beautifully ensconced by a vast expanse of lush vegetation. The front façade opens to the east to take in panoramic views of the rolling hills as the sun rises over the horizon. The back of the house facing the hillside holds a quiet, secluded area for living rooms and bedrooms.

Originally purchased as part of a development project back in 1980, it has gone through several improvements to maintain a good state of repair. After the children had grown up and moved out to start a family of their own, the home was last renovated from 2015 to 2018.

Among other things, the upper floors were tailored to meet the needs of aging Mom and Dad while rooms downstairs are reserved for accommodations for visiting children.

Drawings of floor plans for all three levels. / Courtesy of Zlg Design
A cross-section drawing shows the side elevation of the home renovation project built on the hillside. / Courtesy of Zlg Design

Back in the day when the kids were young, the interior of the house was divided into smaller rooms. Things have changed and hence all the room dividers were torn down to create a larger, more light and airy interior that’s compatible with the Tropical climate.

The result is a complete home renovation that brings elements of the outdoors into the home. They include rays of sunshine that stream in through openings in brick walls and skylights, plus fresh air and the smell of flowers in the room.

Home Renovation
The first-floor bedroom overlooks the front yard that’s set apart from the entrance to the main living spaces on the second floor.
Home Renovation
The bedroom is tucked away at the farthest end while skylights illuminate a nearby utility area.
W39 House Home Renovation
The bedroom wall is fitted with plantation shutters designed for good ventilation. It opens to connect with the entrance hall and center court.

The first floor contains a studio apartment complete with bedroom, bathroom, laundry space and a font yard landscape. The second floor holds sitting room with a kitchen island and dining space that opens to the terrace overlooking the backyard.

W39 House Home Renovation

W39 House Home Renovation
All second-floor room dividers have since been removed to create an open-concept living space that connects with a green hillside landscape in the backyard.

W39 House Home Renovation

To ensure safety, the backyard is made secure by retaining wall systems that protect against flooding and erosion as well as create usable land for plants to thrive, a setting that conjures up images of being in the great outdoors.

W39 House Home Renovation

W39 House Home Renovation
A semi-outdoor kitchen is hemmed in by retaining walls built into the mountainside.
W39 House Home Renovation
The room in the front of the house affords beautiful views of the mountain landscape. The façade is glazed in metal framing with window hinges recycled from the old house.
W39 House Home Renovation
Skylights in the rooftop illuminate the center court. They serve as engine that drives natural air circulation vertically and horizontally.

The third floor is accessible via a spiral staircase. It’s a quiet, secluded living space with sitting room, home office and bedroom set apart by divider curtains for easy updates. Open to the outdoors, it conveys a great deal about the inextricable connection between humans and nature.

A spiral staircase connects to third floor. It’s enclosed in perforated walls built of light mass brick that’s inexpensive, plus there’s no need for cement plastering. During the daytime, rays of sunshine streaming inside add interesting dimension to the room.
W39 House Home Renovation
The third-floor corridor runs the entire length of the weather-beaten cement wall. Framed art pieces line the interior wall reminiscent of a small gallery.

In terms of value it’s a good home renovation that stands the test of time thanks in part to quality materials that perform well despite the weather. Meantime, bare concrete surfaces and brick masonry walls blend perfectly into their surroundings.

The front façade has since been adapted to go well with metal window and door casings. For good looks, they are fitted with vintage hinges recycled from old homes.

There’s a part of the wall that’s made using light mass bricks without cement plastering. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to find locally. Where appropriate, openings are made in the brick walls to let fresh air and natural light stream into the home creating abstract reflections on the wall. It’s a way to keep the interior cool and comfortable without air conditioning.

W39 House Home Renovation
Drapery hanging in loose folds divides the third floor into different rooms. At every level, the bathroom is set against the exterior wall to create ample living spaces inside.

W39 House Home Renovation

The bathroom is enclosed in perforated brickwork for good ventilation. Nearby solid sliding doors and walls add privacy protection while the gap at the top lets air pass through.

The natural surroundings play a crucial role in making a home renovation full of life and energy. This place is no exception. It’s a happy home built on a good understanding of the environment and the humble nature of human and non-human elements in nature.

So it’s good to let nature take its course for a change. Let lichens grow. Leave those little mud stains on the wall alone. Let climbers thrive on the trellis and the wall. They are there for good reason.

The same applies to those unkempt ground covering weeds here and there. There is beauty in imperfections too, especially those semi-outdoor decks made of wood planks. They may be worn by exposure to the air.

Unpleasant, perhaps? But they serve the purpose as place to enjoy a good cup of tea, have a conversation, even prepare food and wash dishes, or just sit back and relax in the early morning quiet. That’s the secret to living a memorable life.

W39 House Home Renovation
A relaxing nook on Floor 3 sits directly above the semi-outdoor kitchen on Floor 2. It opens to a vertical garden that fills up the retaining wall built into the hillside.

Owner: Susanne Zeidler, Huat Lim

Architect: Zlg Design (zlgdesign.wordpress.com) by Susanne Zeidler, Huat Lim


This house appears in the Special Bilingual Edition (English and Thai) of Baan Lae Suan and Living Asean, titled “Tropical Suburban and Country Homes”. It focuses on designs for cozy living in harmony with nature.

We have handpicked ten houses for this special edition that serve as the perfect example of design innovations in sync with the natural world. Front and center, it’s about the pursuit of ways to live more sustainably and create a better future for all. Looking for inspiration? Perhaps a glimpse into nature-inspired “Tropical Suburban and Country Homes” is a good place to start.

Delve into the new book today. It’s hitting Thailand shelves now. For more details, visit https://www.naiin.com/product/detail/592504

For bulk ordering, contact livingasean.bkk@gmail.com


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EE House: A Small Family Rendezvous Connected to Nature

EE House: A Small Family Rendezvous Connected to Nature

/ Buriram, Thailand /

/ Story: Wuthikorn Sut / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Prueksakun Kornudom, Ketsiree Wongwan /

This one-story small white house in Lam Plai Mat, a district in northeastern Buriram Province, is a well-designed place where the homeowner lives. It’s just a few steps from her little sister’s home, separated only by a small unkempt yard that lies in-between. Family relatives who live in other parts of the district come by for a visit regularly. And that’s where the architect comes in handy to find a way to connect the two sisters’ homes and, at the same time, create a rendezvous for socializing, cooking and eating together as family.

small white house

The house plan starts off with a carport in the front of the house. From here, a corridor leads to a veranda along the outside of the building that opens to a backyard garden at the rear. Along the passage, functional areas such as storage, bathroom and laundry are neatly organized, lying hidden in plain sight behind the carport wall.

small white house
A variety of architectural forms and features combine to add character to the small white house.
Floor Plan / Courtesy of WOS Architects
A perspective drawing shows the integration of I-Beam steel framing systems in the overall house plan. / Courtesy of WOS Architects

Viewed in its essential qualities, the veranda serves as centerpiece of family life. It runs parallel to the building and occupies one third of total land area.

Designed to serve multiple purposes, the semi-outdoor room holds an open kitchen, dining table and chairs. It’s roofed over to protect from the harsh sun and rain, well-lit by natural daylight and made comfortable by a nearby green space. Thanks to the perfect passive design, there is no need for air conditioning.

small white house
Surprisingly spacious living/dining room opens to the veranda overlooking a lush lawn in the backyard.

small white house

small white house
Although private, the bedroom is light and airy thanks to a large wall opening.

The appeal of a lush lawn lies beyond the veranda that’s an extension of what goes on inside the home. At the farthest end, the backyard wall separates the home from the outside.

From the roofed platform, the sister’s home on the opposite side of the vacant lot can be seen in full view. There’s a gate at the end of the garden with wall-mounted bench seating under a large opening that’s the focal point in landscape design.

In this way, the two sisters and family can communicate with each other like all friendly neighbors do. And for a good appearance, shrubs and other plants that cluttered up the space in-between were completely removed.

small white house

small white house

small white house
The veranda with an open kitchen provides an additional dining room, the centerpiece of family life where the two homes bond together as one.
small white house
There is good design flow from the backyard to the veranda and the integrated steel framing system that connects the house with perimeter walls.

Step inside the house, and you come to a secluded area that holds a comfortable living room, bedroom and bath. There is a sense of good design flow between rooms from the living room, to the veranda, to the green lawn, to the perimeter wall. It’s a thoughtful design that ensures all elements fit well together to form a coherent whole and every part exists for a purpose.

A large wall opening with wall-mounted bench seating goes to work fostering good relationships.
small white house
A small wall-mounted gate provides a shortcut between the two houses.

Take for example steel beam framing that extends from inside the house all the way to the perimeter wall. It sends a message that all parts are inextricably related. The same applies to the various types of wall openings that seek reconnections with nature and bring the outdoors into every part of the home.

A flashback when the aisle between the two houses was filled with unkempt rambling plants.

Long story short, what makes this small white house stand out is the use of red I-beam framing as a tool to carry electrical wires and cables to all parts of the home. It conveys a great deal about truth to materials architecture, which says that all materials and methods should be appropriate and exposed. Together they create visual connections between indoor and outdoor spaces.

Open-plan living ideas connect the two homes.

Owner: Jintana Pongtipakorn

Architects: WOS Architects (wosarchitects.com)

Lead architect: Prueksakun Kornudom, Ornpailin Leelasiriwong


This house appears in the Special Bilingual Edition (English and Thai) of Baan Lae Suan and Living Asean, titled “Tropical Suburban and Country Homes”. It focuses on designs for cozy living in harmony with nature.

We have handpicked ten houses for this special edition that serve as the perfect example of design innovations in sync with the natural world. Front and center, it’s about the pursuit of ways to live more sustainably and create a better future for all. Looking for inspiration? Perhaps a glimpse into nature-inspired “Tropical Suburban and Country Homes” is a good place to start.

Delve into the new book today. It’s hitting Thailand shelves now. For more details, visit https://www.naiin.com/product/detail/592504

For bulk ordering, contact livingasean.bkk@gmail.com


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Nhà Voi 7 Gardens House: Small Size Not an Obstacle to Decorating with Greenery

Dien Khanh House: Where Modern Lifestyle and the Rural Way Intermix

Dien Khanh House: Where Modern Lifestyle and the Rural Way Intermix

/ Khanh Hoa, Vietnam /

/ Story: Kor Lordkam / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Hiroyuki Oki /

A small white house overlooking river views merges into the countryside vernacular of Dien Khanh, a district of Khanh Hoa Province on the southeast coast of Vietnam. Built on an elongated rectangle, it has a narrow frontage to the street like other houses in the neighborhood. Yet, it’s different from the others for its ultramodern appearance. It all started with the architect trying to create a home that’s up to date and, at the same time, capable of blending into the surroundings. Ideally, it should agree with the historical and cultural setting of the place. And it has to be comfortable to live in.

Dien Khanh House

The result is a two-story home with public spaces in the downstairs layout. The front of the house plan holds the sitting room and dining room. High ceilings make the overall interior space feel light, airy and cool.

Dien Khanh House
Small green spaces on both sides of the front yard pathway add a natural touch to the main entry area.
Dien Khanh House
The living room is light, airy and cool thanks to a double-height ceiling that brings an element surprise to the interior. It’s strikingly different from the entry area where the ceiling is lower.
Dien Khanh House
A triangular rooftop skylight adds an element of playfulness to design. It illuminates a part of the interior during daylight hours.

Half way into the house plan, a spiral staircase that’s the focal point of design winds up to the second floor. Further inside, a more personal room contains small kitchen space that’s clearly separated from the bedroom for aging Mom and Dad located at the rear.

Climb a flight of stairs, and you come to two more bedrooms with an ancestral hall at the far end.

Dien Khanh House
The spiral staircase acts as a focal point for creativity in interior design.

A drawing shows the house location in the riverside neighborhood. / Courtesy of 6717 Studio
A diagram shows spatial relationships between Floors 1 and 2, plus the roof. / Courtesy of 6717 Studio
The side elevation illustrates spatial relationships between functional spaces in the home. / Courtesy of 6717 Studio

Despite it being long and narrow, the architect had no difficulty finding ways to make the interior room well-lit and well ventilated. The problem of confined spaces is resolved simply by growing a small garden in the main entry area, a natural way to create passive cooling effects in the home.

At the rear, a small backyard serves as engine that drives natural air circulation. That’s not all. At the center of the house plan, a small square courtyard adds a little bit of greenery to the interior. Together, these little green spaces go to work bringing fresh outdoor air into the home all day long.

Dien Khanh House
A corridor connects the living room in the middle to a quiet, more private living spaces at the rear.
Dien Khanh House
A square courtyard opens to admit light and fresh outdoor air into the interior.
The downstairs bedroom opens to the interior courtyard.
Dien Khanh House
The kitchen opens to the courtyard to admit light and get rid of cooking smells in the interior.

Taken as a whole, these are the key attributes that give the new home character. Plus, the roof with a high pitch is designed to perform in severe storms. It’s painted a bright shade of orange to add a new feature to the community landscape.

Combine that with simple clean lines and white walls, and it conjures up the image of a small cozy home that blends perfectly with the charm of rustic rural life.

Dien Khanh House

For privacy, the two upstairs bedrooms are separated by the center courtyard.

Dien Khanh House


Architect: 6717 Studio (6717studio.com)

Lead Architect: Le Viet Hoi


This house appears in the Special Bilingual Edition (English and Thai) of Baan Lae Suan and Living Asean, titled “Tropical Suburban and Country Homes”. It focuses on designs for cozy living in harmony with nature.

We have handpicked ten houses for this special edition that serve as the perfect example of design innovations in sync with the natural world. Front and center, it’s about the pursuit of ways to live more sustainably and create a better future for all. Looking for inspiration? Perhaps a glimpse into nature-inspired “Tropical Suburban and Country Homes” is a good place to start.

Delve into the new book today. It’s hitting Thailand shelves now. For more details, visit https://www.naiin.com/product/detail/592504

For bulk ordering, contact livingasean.bkk@gmail.com


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LDT Residence: A Contemporary Home Celebrates the Alluring Charm of Bali

LDT Residence: A Contemporary Home Celebrates the Alluring Charm of Bali

LDT Residence: A Contemporary Home Celebrates the Alluring Charm of Bali

/ Bali, Indonesia /

/ Story: Kor Lordkam / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Indra Wiras /

A contemporary home stands amid the rice fields that merge into the breathtaking landscape of Ubud, a town on the Indonesian island of Bali. It consists of two identical houses situated, side by side, parallel to the paddy fields growing luxuriantly in front and back.

contemporary home bali

Incorporating stunning earth tones into the exterior, each building covers about 200 square meters in extent, which translates into roughly 150 square meters of usable spaces. In essence, it’s a design that celebrates the richness of culture and rustic charm typical of the Balinese countryside.

Skillfully planned, it culminates in a living space made more private without a fence, a home in the rice fields set against the backdrop of rainforest ecosystems.

contemporary home bali

contemporary home bali
Opaque front façade ideas make this contemporary home in Bali feel more private without a fence.

From the perspective of the architects who designed it, the first thing that came to mind was how to create the external envelope that would sync with the natural environment. They decided on a single-level home plan that fitted perfectly in the circumstances that formed the setting of the place. Hence, simple clean lines parallel to the horizon are a focal point in the design as we see it.

The same applies to low-pitched roofs that are chosen for their ability to fit in this environment. In this particular case, dual garble roof lines create a distinct architectural feature. Plus, they perform as effectively as high-pitched roofs without appearing too large or too heavy for the surrounding paddy fields.

contemporary home bali
Hand carved to perfection, the front door embraces the richness of local art and culture. The panel is kept relatively small for more privacy, while sidelights on the brick façade let natural daylight stream into the home.

Interior space planning is tailored to meet simple lifestyle needs. The overall effect is impressive. Step inside, and you come to a small hallway where you can feel the atmosphere change.

The house plan shows spatial relationships between living and functional spaces. / Courtesy of UOS Architecture Studio
A cross section drawing shows different floor levels in relation to ceiling heights. / Courtesy of UOS Architecture Studio

There’s a comfortable living room-dining room combo with a small kitchen, and two bedrooms at the farthest end. The sitting room looks out over the rice fields, while an in-ground swimming pool and nearby wooden decks provide a visual connection between indoor and outdoor spaces.

All the rooms open to the green expanse of rice fields at the back of the house while, on the opposite site, the solid front façade goes to work protecting family privacy.

contemporary home bali
Sidelights in the brick façade create warmth and a sense of openness in the entry hallway leading to the interior.

contemporary home bali
The living room-dining room combo opens wide to bring the outdoors in. High sloped ceiling design creates a light, airy home vibe.

By design, the nontransparent front façade creates a unique architectural feature. It uses color and texture creatively combining the brownish red of brick masonry walls with the gray of Paras Tulung Agung, a type of sand stone obtained from sources in the locality, plus the carved wood doors that convey a great deal about the island’s cultural heritage.

A rooftop skylight illuminates and improves ventilation in the bathroom, plus more privacy.
contemporary home bali
The primary bedroom at the far end of the pool has large openings connecting to nature and the outdoors.

Together, they protect privacy and make for a strong and durable home. Elsewhere, the living room overlooking the swimming pool and nearby sun decks open to admit natural light and fresh outdoor air into the home. All things considered, it’s a delightful place with gorgeous scenery to calm the mind and create deep relaxation.

contemporary home bali
Solid walls and vertical fins conceal windows and doors at the rear of this contemporary home in Bali.

Architects: UOS Architecture Studio (www.instagram.com/uosarchitecturestudio)

Lead Architect: Gde Banyu Priautama

Design Team: Tjokorda Gede Dalem Suparsa, Putu Rahayu Sitha Dewi

Contractor: NATS.Project

Owner: Hendra Rusli


This house appears in the Special Bilingual Edition (English and Thai) of Baan Lae Suan and Living Asean, titled “Tropical Suburban and Country Homes”. It focuses on designs for cozy living in harmony with nature.

We have handpicked ten houses for this special edition that serve as the perfect example of design innovations in sync with the natural world. Front and center, it’s about the pursuit of ways to live more sustainably and create a better future for all. Looking for inspiration? Perhaps a glimpse into nature-inspired “Tropical Suburban and Country Homes” is a good place to start.

Delve into the new book today. It’s hitting Thailand shelves now. For more details, visit https://www.naiin.com/product/detail/592504

For bulk ordering, contact livingasean.bkk@gmail.com


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Winding Villa: A Mountain Retreat Where Curve Design Syncs with the Rhythm of the Wild

/ Nakhon Nayok, Thailand /

/ Story: Kor Lordkam / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Rungkit Charoenwat /

Here’s a gorgeous modern home nestled in the wooded hills of Nakhon Nayok Province, roughly an hour’s drive from the capital. It’s a good-sized home built on 12 Rai of valleylands (just shy of 5 acres). The surroundings are naturally beautiful no doubt, and the design team at Stu/D/O, a Bangkok-based architectural practice, is determined to leave everything in its pristine condition. It involves detailed environmental assessment to reduce human impacts on ecosystems and, at the same time, create a wholesome atmosphere for relaxation.

Winding Villa

The vast expanse of the forests is vital headwaters to many tributaries and rich in ecological corridors that are key to the survival of the region’s native fauna. And that takes priority over any other matter concerning the siting of the home.

Like so, the building is made less visible to avoid disrupting the ways of nature. It’s a house without fences by design that accepts things as they are. So wildlife can wander leisurely by, plus existing trees on the property remain where they have always been to minimize the impact on the environment.

Winding Villa

Mimicking the contours of the landscape, a semi-outdoor pathway connects the carport to the villa.

Winding Villa

Winding Villa
The center courtyard is hemmed in by the circular concrete wall with curved concrete roofing.

That explains why the elements of the landscape are integrated into the home plan. It’s a design that considers human needs in connection with other things in the environment. And the house’s appearance reflects this line of thought.

Like poetry in motion, graceful curves wind around a stand of trees, six of them in all, creating good design flow that’s in sync with the rhythm of the wild. Curved concrete barriers prevent an encounter with wandering wildlife and provide safe outdoor room for the home with a center courtyard.

Winding Villa

Ample semi-outdoor room for relaxation by the poolside.

Within the confines of the place, a beautiful two-story house plan is created. Freeform curves fill the ground floor where a sitting room and kitchen space flow together as one. There’s a workshop cum hobby room nearby. Together they take up one side of the floor.

At the center court, a swimming pool connects to the semi-outdoor sitting room along the outside of the home. There are housekeeper living quarters and service areas at the opposite end.

Winding Villa
Curved lines adorning the sitting room give off good vibes.

The freeform concrete structure on the ground floor differs strikingly from the rectangular-shaped second floor that sits on top of it. It’s the perfect stark contrast where geometric rigidity meets graceful fluidity.

There is the beauty of humble materials such as timber cladding that adorns the exterior walls on all sides. The second floor contains bedrooms with personality that varies from room to room.

Winding Villa

Winding Villa
The façade covered in timber cladding visually reduces the size allowing the villa to blend into the wooded hillside.

Taken as a whole, it’s a salubrious place made for relaxation, a country villa thoughtfully devised to incorporate environmental considerations into the design process. And it’s done with respect for nature.

Drawing of ground floor plan. / Courtesy of Stu/D/O

 

 

Drawing of second floor plan. / Courtesy of Stu/D/O

Winding Villa


Owner: Daniel Easson

Architects: Stu/D/O Architects (www.stu-d-o.com)

Design team: Apichart Srirojanapinyo, Chanasit Cholasuek, Thanut Sakdanaraseth, Pitchaya Kointarangkul

Prime Contractor: Double Click Construction


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Floating House in Thu Duc: A Home under the Canopy That Fits Right in Nature

Floating House in Thu Duc: A Home under the Canopy That Fits Right in Nature

/ Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam /

/ Story: Kor Lordkam / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Hiroyuki Oki /

Here’s a midsize three-story house in Thu Duc, a neighborhood on the northeast side of Ho Chi Minh City. It’s nestled in a riverside community that’s no stranger to seasonal flooding. Houses on stilts can be found almost everywhere. This new concrete home is no exception. It’s raised on pilings about a meter above uneven ground to keep it safe from rising floodwaters. More importantly, it’s open-concept design that adds character to the home. Precisely, over 70 percent of the house plan is open to fresh air and natural daylight, a well-design outdoor living space that brings joy to the home.

Floating House in Thu Duc
The light and airy flat-roof home is ensconced in the lush greenery of a riverside community.

On the whole, the concrete-framed house plan appears light and airy. It shows how component parts are pieced together using straightforward building techniques.

Functional areas are scattered over three concrete slab floors that vary from one to the other depending on needs. The ground floor at plinth height holds a quiet, secluded space consisting of the master bedroom and lovely veranda overlooking the backyard garden. It’s positioned to be invisible from the carport and main entrance areas.

Bypassing the first-floor private space, a flight of stairs at the rear of the building leads to the upstairs living room. With traffic flow arranged in this way, the master bedroom lies hidden from view — out of sight, out of mind.

Floating House in Thu Duc

The carport lies under the concrete slab that makes the second floor. The bedroom is separated from the entry area by service spaces such as bathroom and laundry room.

Floating House in Thu Duc

Floating House in Thu Duc

Floating House in Thu Duc
The terrace along the outside of the house is an open-air space with double height ceilings on the outer edge.
Floating House in Thu Duc
Thoughtful design opens the master bedroom to natural light.

The second-floor living space contains a sitting room, dining room and kitchen. It’s made attractive by good-sized balconies that wrap around all four sides of the house plan.

The entire building envelop that encloses the sitting room is glazed using clear glass that stands tall from floor to ceiling. It’s a natural way to create a visual connection between the interior and exterior spaces on the balcony and beyond.

Floating House in Thu Duc
The stairwell at the rear of the building connects the first floor to the upstairs living room.
Floating House in Thu Duc
The living room is glazed using glass paneling that opens to take in fresh air and views of the surroundings.
Floating House in Thu Duc
The enclosed kitchen opens to a nearby hall. Large windows make it equally well ventilated.

Floating House in Thu Duc

Floating House in Thu Duc
The veranda offers ample space that merges with nearby sitting room.

The third-floor deck offers a panorama of surrounding communities. It’s accessible from the second floor via an outdoor staircase that’s built into the front façade. There’s a bar counter with outdoor grill table for the perfect barbecue. A cool place to be, it lies under the canopy of overhanging trees with luxuriant foliage reaching into the sky.

Floating House in Thu Duc
An aerial perspective shows plenty of calm and relaxing family rooms.

It is, in brief, a design where nature is front and center, a home that’s comfortable without being strikingly noticeable. It reflects the line of thought that a simple, beautiful home can be built using ordinary materials and techniques; such as concrete masonry, timber, terra cotta tiles and white walls.

A drawing shows the house’s location within the community. / Courtesy of Sda. – Sanuki Daisuke Architects
Downstairs house plan / Courtesy of Sda. – Sanuki Daisuke Architects
Upstairs house plan / Courtesy of Sda. – Sanuki Daisuke Architects
Rooftop deck plan / Courtesy of Sda. – Sanuki Daisuke Architects
A front-elevation drawing shows structural relationships between concrete slab floors and functional spaces. / Courtesy of Sda. – Sanuki Daisuke Architects

In this particular case, the concrete-framed house is built on a budget using the usual commonplace materials. There’s practically no limit, and it’s up to the person to pick and choose to beautify his home. Take for example the outdoor staircase built into the front façade. In terms of the general impression, it’s an interesting architectural feature that performs its intended function.

Floating House in Thu Duc


Architect: Sda. – Sanuki Daisuke Architects (www.sanukiar.com)

Lead Architect: Sanuki Daisuke, Nguyen Huynh Bao Ngoc

Structure Engineer: Thanh Cong Construction Design Co., Ltd

ME Engineer: Hung Viet Tst Corp

Contractor: Coppha Builders Construction Co., Ltd


This house appears in the Special Bilingual Edition (English and Thai) of Baan Lae Suan and Living Asean, titled “Tropical Suburban and Country Homes”. It focuses on designs for cozy living in harmony with nature.

We have handpicked ten houses for this special edition that serve as the perfect example of design innovations in sync with the natural world. Front and center, it’s about the pursuit of ways to live more sustainably and create a better future for all. Looking for inspiration? Perhaps a glimpse into nature-inspired “Tropical Suburban and Country Homes” is a good place to start.

Delve into the new book today. It’s hitting Thailand shelves now. For more details, visit https://www.naiin.com/product/detail/592504

For bulk ordering, contact livingasean.bkk@gmail.com


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Baan Noi Doi Hang: Little House on the Hill Boasts the Beauty of Work-from-Home Design

Baan Noi Doi Hang: Little House on the Hill Boasts the Beauty of Work-from-Home Design

/ Chiang Rai, Thailand /

/ Story: Nattawat Klysuban / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Rungkit Charoenwat /

It’s amazing how a small space can make a big difference. Here’s a little house on the hill located at Tambon Doi Hang in Chiang Rai’s Muang District. It’s only 35 square meters, which is no bigger than an average condominium unit in the city. But it’s location, location and location that makes it a stunning place to live. The homeowner couple wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok and live somewhere out there in the countryside. Like a stroke of serendipity, their wish came true.

Little House on the hill

Theirs is a tiny home built into nature. It sits beautifully ensconced in the misty morning air and, beyond, forested mountains can be seen from miles around. It’s a calm living space designed for a remote work-from-home job and hence no time is wasted in daily rush-hour commutes.

Plus, they get to choose a way of life tailored to their needs. It’s a lifestyle pared down to the essentials thanks in part to a simple house plan, in which every square inch serves a purpose for which it’s intended.

Little House on the hill

The homeowner couple are natives of Bangkok. They had lived in other places before moving out to this northernmost corner of the country. So they pretty much had a clear picture of what they wanted in a new home plus the functionality and the size that would be right for them. They tossed the ideas around with a team of architects. And the overall result was impressive.

Little House on the hill

It’s a small house designed for two people to fit in comfortably, with a bedroom, workspace, bathroom and a kitchenette with coffee bar. It even has a closet and outdoor rooms for relaxation and al fresco cooking and dining.

Basically, it’s a small living space with many advantages. To begin with, it’s a way to avoid expensive cost overruns. It’s easy to keep clean and maintain in good condition, which translates into more time being devoted to something else more important.

Little House on the hill

A large countertop made out of hardwood is perfect for preparing favorite meals and beverages.
The closet with shelves attached to a wall has a wash basin nearby for extra convenience.

The house on a hill is positioned along the east west axis with the view of a lush landscape. The north and south sides have long eaves overhanging the walls that shield the bedroom from exposure to intense afternoon sun.

For health benefits, the architect puts in a front porch under the gable to create room to sit sipping coffee in the morning and to cook stakes in the late afternoon. The house plan is made in this way for good reason; the outdoors can impact human wellbeing. So it’s a good idea to step outside and connect with nature to reduce stress or just lean back and chill.

A floor plan illustrates relationships between spaces. / Courtesy of IS Architects
A drawing illustrates front and side elevations of the house built on sloped ground. / Courtesy of IS Architects

Little House on the hill

Little House on the hill
Multiple swing door systems are glazed using clear glass to soak up the views of lush countryside.

Like a good neighbor who cares about the community, the house was built using locally sourced materials by local builders and artisans highly skilled in woodworking and masonry.

The ingredients obtained from the locality included roofing materials, reclaimed hardwood, and cement for textured plaster walls. The builders were tasked with work according to their specialized skills so as to add countryside flair to the home.

A steel bracket connecting the house post with concrete footing helps protect against moisture damage.

Like everything else, the Northern Region is not without its challenges. It’s no stranger to air pollution caused by seasonal agricultural burning. To be prepared for all eventualities, the architect makes sure the doors and windows are impervious to dust and dirt when that happens.

Well-made swing door systems and awning windows are chosen for their effectiveness in keeping dust out. At the same time, attention to detail ensures there are no gaps between the window pane and the frame when shut.

A teakwood post supports the roof truss consisting of beams and common rafters, a collaboration between the project architect and experienced local builders.

On the whole, the little house on the hill is designed to blend perfectly with the circumstances that form the setting of the area. It’s a product of thoughtful planning by the project architect and the homeowners. And the result is a humble abode that syncs with the rhythm of life in the highlands region of Chiang Rai. Priceless!

Little House on the hill
A bird’s-eye view of the little house on the hill in relation to lush greenery in the surroundings.

Architect: IS Architects (www.facebook.com/isarchitects.team)

Lead Architect: Pawin Tharatjai


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Small Houses in Cambodia: Lack of Space Is Nicely Compensated for by a Cozy Garden Ambience

Small Houses in Cambodia: Lack of Space Is Nicely Compensated for by a Cozy Garden Ambience

/ Phnom Penh, Cambodia /

/ Story: Kor Lordkam / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Hiroyuki Oki /

Like a dream turning into a vibrant reality, a trio of small houses sits beautifully ensconced in a cul-de-sac away from the noise and traffic on the main thoroughfare in central Phnom Penh. Together they occupy the full extent of a tiny piece of property, with leafy vines growing luxuriantly covering much of the front façade in subdued earthy reds.

small houses cambodia

The lush covering conveys a great deal about the architect’s firm determination to overcome space constraints and create enjoyable homes against all odds. The result is a trio of thoughtfully devised living spaces made cozy and comfortable by allowing fresh, outdoor air and natural light into the home.

Plus, dense green trailing plants add privacy to the inside, a clever hack to let nature permeate and protect the home from the glare of the midday sun.

small houses cambodia

Albeit small, the three houses have four levels of usable space and functions, including a sky garden on the rooftop deck. The building façades crafted of concrete breeze blocks in dark shades of reds blend with the vertical garden growing luxuriantly on the balconies, creating a pleasing combination clearly visible from a distance.

Together they form a double-layer thermal envelope that’s the first line of defense against the harsh sun and rain. For neat appearances, the three entrance doors at street level blend into the shimmering perforate façades adorned with climbing plants.

Flashback: Old photographs show the physical appearance of the subsidiary street neighborhood prior to construction. / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
A diagrammatic representation of the subsidiary street neighborhood where the trio of small houses islocated. / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
First-floor house plan / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
Second-floor house plan / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
Third-floor house plan / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
A simplified drawing shows space utilization on the rooftop decks of the three houses. / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
Concrete breeze blocks with a concave outline designed and manufactured for outer shell construction. / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
small houses cambodia
Concrete breeze blocks in subdued earthy reds blend perfectly with the dense green foliage on the building façade.

Being of the right size and shape, the three homes fit perfectly into a square-shaped piece of land. The first two houses are relatively small, with similar square-shaped plans built side by side facing the same way. The third house is rectangular shaped and slightly larger. It’s situated at the rear of the property facing a different direction.

small houses cambodia

small houses cambodia
Double height ceiling design makes the small living space fell larger and more comfortable.

small houses cambodia

With regard to interior design, the first floor holds a spacious, uncluttered living room with a kitchenette for entertaining houseguests, while the more secluded second and third levels contain bedrooms.

The fourth floor is a rooftop deck with semi-outdoor sitting rooms for relaxation and leafy plants thriving in containers placed along the edges. The same interior layout applies to all three, except for the rooftop decks of the two front units that are connected to create a bigger shared space.

small houses cambodia

Quite the contrary to what might be expected, it’s a trio of small homes with larger house functionality, plus roomy, uncluttered design made for cozy, comfortable living.

What is lacking in terms of space is nicely compensated for by well-thought-out design, plus plenty of refreshing greenery all around. Like a pleasant surprise, they make perfect escapes, a trio of quiet and secluded family homes despite their proximity to the hustle and bustle of downtown Phnom Penh.

Here, the secrets to a happy home lies in the perforate shells adorned with leafy vines keeping the snug interior nice and warm all year round.

small houses cambodia
Green leafy plants growing luxuriantly on the balcony provide refreshing coolness and privacy protection for the bedroom.
Semi-outdoor room on the rooftop deck is decorated with plants thriving in containers along the side of the building.

small houses cambodia

small houses cambodia
The perforate shell covered in lush greenery provides a focal point and sense of space in the neighborhood.

By design, the perforate facades made of concrete breeze blocks serve as engine that drive natural ventilation keeping the home cool in summer. They also allow just the right amounts of daylight streaming into the interior turning it into an oasis of calm during the daytime.

On the outside, they add an extra layer of protection from sun and rain, creating a double-layer outer shell that allows air to pass through the intermediate gap in between.

More so than anything else, they provide a visual combination showcasing the beauty of simplicity, the power of nature and human ingenuity in providing solutions to problems and overcoming challenges. It’s as simple as that!

small houses cambodia
A slab of concrete at the bottom of the window frame affords a good view of the neighborhood below.

Architect: Antoine Meinnel of Bloom Architecture (www.bloom-architecture.com)

Design Team: Antoine Meinnel, Kong Lim, Ny Kechseang, Heng Thanak


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Mae Rim House: A Home on the Hill, Fresh Air and Memories of the Good Old Days

Mae Rim House: A Home on the Hill, Fresh Air and Memories of the Good Old Days

/ Chiang Mai, Thailand /

/ Story: Wuthikorn Sut / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Add Peerapat Wimolrungkarat, Something Architecture /

This house on the hill is a refreshing change to be taken seriously. Designed for four people to fit in comfortably, it looks out over the Mae Sa River in Chiang Mai’s Mae Rim District. It all began with a family wanting to get away from Bangkok and live somewhere out there in the countryside. As luck would have it, they had an old vacation home that needed repairs, and the rest is history.

Home on the Hill fresh air

It wasn’t long before they decided to put in a new house set amid the landscape of undulating hillsides filled with fond memories of the good old days. From a distance, the new place named Mae Rim House is built into nature, the perfect place to get fresh air and sunshine. Can’t beat that!

Home on the Hill fresh air
The open concept first floor offers plenty of ample space under double height ceilings. It holds a living room, dining room and kitchen. Upstairs, a footbridge provides access to the bedroom at the rear of the house plan.

Upon completion, the family had most of their furniture and furnishings shipped up here when they left Bangkok. They included collectibles that had been in family possession for some time and personal effects shipped home after an extended stay overseas. Take a quick look, and it’s easy to get how they felt a sentimental attachment to their possessions.

The dinning room affords a peaceful vista of the family’s old vacation home at the rear of the property.

Overall, home decoration is inspired by fond memories for the past. Amenities and features of the house are mostly in taupe or light gray with a tinge of brown. And that’s especially true for the ceilings, interior walls, sofas and other furniture items.

It’s a mix of old and new that blends perfectly with the dense green color of the surrounding landscape. The same applies to the comparative coolness of the house exterior that’s in shade for much of the day, a rustic ambience that’s in perfect harmony with nature.

Home on the Hill fresh air

The two-story, 500-square-meter home boasts the beauty of a large living room in the middle of the first floor. Elsewhere, smaller sitting areas are placed at intervals across the house plan.

But what makes it an interesting place to live is the double height ceiling at the center that promotes cross ventilation, keeping the interior cool and comfortable especially during summer months. At the same time, open concept design encourages smooth flow around the interior, from the kitchen to dining room to living room.

A topographic map shows the house location on the hill in relation to green spaces, roadway and nearby structures.
A drawing of the downstairs floor plan.
A drawing of the upstairs floor plan.

The result is a bright and breezy atmosphere, thanks in part to an array of sliding glass doors on one side of the house that opens to let nature permeate the interior. There’s also a ceiling fan on standby, too. It’s so cozy that they hardly ever use air conditioning.

Home on the Hill fresh air

 

The first floor holds two bedrooms with a view of nature. Designed for senior family members, they are positioned at either end of the house plan for increased privacy. The second floor is an entirely different story.

There’s an attic-style bedroom at the south end of the house plan that has been adapted to avoid stuffiness and promote good air flow. For lighting and ventilation, a trio of awnings and skylight windows are built into the gable roof.

Home on the Hill fresh air
The upstairs bedroom at the rear is accessed via a footbridge overlooking the void of space above the first floor that holds a kitchen, dining room and living room.

Home on the Hill fresh air

Inside the house, slanted ceilings that run parallel to top chords create a bigger space overhead making the entire bedroom feel spacious and airy. On the outside, the underside of overhanging eaves is covered with soffit panels for a neat appearance.

Home on the Hill fresh air
Bedroom walls are glazed using clear glass to soak up the views of lush wooded hills.
Home on the Hill fresh air
A cozy semi-outdoor gallery adjoining the bedroom is brightened up with foliage plants.

For indoor thermal comfort, the box-shaped home lies protected by an expansive gable roof with long eaves overhanging the exterior walls. It stands hemmed in by tall trees that keep the new family home in shade for much of the day.

 

The awning and skylight window customized to match the roof reduces the harshness of materials, plus it facilitates cross ventilation in the interior, keeping the house cool in summer.

Home on the Hill fresh air

What makes it fascinating is the far ends of the gable roof that extends quite a distance from the walls of the building. The resulting triangular shape of the second level is designed to avoid making the house look too big or too tall, so as to blend with all that exists in the neighborhood. After all, it’s everlasting harmony that’s the foundation of good design.

Home on the Hill fresh air


Architect: WOSArchitects (wosarchitects.com)

Interior Designer: Estudio (www.facebook.com/Estu.interior)


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MAISON K: A Home Office Made Attractive by Façade of Shimmering Ceramics

MAISON K: A Home Office Made Attractive by Façade of Shimmering Ceramics

/ Binh Dinh, Vietnam /

/ Story: Ektida N. / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Tuan-Nghia NGUYEN /

An eco-friendly home office building named Maison K hovers above the ground, looking out over a traffic circle in the center of Quy Nhon, a coastal city in central Vietnam. The overall effect is out of this world, inspiring admiration for its well-thought-out design and build quality. The building’s double-skin façade gives off good vibes, thanks to air flowing through the intermediate cavity. At the same time, hanging and trailing vines add a lush appeal to the building’s principal front shimmering in the sunlight. Right next to it, another home office building with beautiful raw concrete finishes stands back to back on the same location. Albeit different characters, the interior is essentially the same.

Home Office vietnam MAISON K

Blending aesthetics with sustainable design, the building’s feature wall is covered with ceramic panels in subdued shades of orange that provide a buffer against the glare of the sun. Hinged on one side, they swing open like doors to regulate air and light streaming into the interior.

Together they merge into one coherent architectural feature that creates an indelible impression on people passing by.

Home Office vietnam MAISON K

Dubbed the home office for the future of work, it’s a design that makes decorating with plants an integral part of interior and exterior design. Every workspace is thoughtfully devised to best serve its designated purpose, while the wellness, peace and quiet of a home office atmosphere remain the front-and-center concerns.

It’s thanks to meticulous design that an oasis of calm is created despite being located in a busy downtown neighborhood.

Maison K is the brainchild of Nghia-Architect, a homegrown atelier admired for their imagination and skills, plus an excellent track record in architecture and knowledge of the geography in Vietnam. Their main forte includes a thorough understanding of climate variability since weather conditions can change significantly on the oceanfront, directly affecting how a building performs.

Home Office vietnam MAISON K

This is especially true in the case of Quy Nhon, which is subject to strong winds in the coastal area, plus hot and humid weather conditions happening from time to time.

As the architect puts it, Quy Nhon being warmer and more humid than other parts of the country, the knowledge and experience in choosing the right materials for the job is imperative, and hence standards be maintained every step of the way.

Understandably, concrete is the mainstay of the construction industry in this part of Vietnam. It’s preferred over other building materials and techniques for its strength and durability, plus it’s resistant to weather and salt damage.

Especially in the context of Quy Nhon, concrete containing broken gray stone is preferred for its wear and tear resistance, plus its pleasing color and texture are sought after in this region.

Home Office vietnam MAISON K
Green design keeps the covered parking area cool when the mercury rises. A triangular void of space curved into rounded form creates a double volume air space that allows a tree to grow through it reaching for the sky. For a look that’s easy on the eye, sharp interior angles are trimmed into curved corners to reduce the harshness of raw concrete finishes.

There’s an element of surprise. Maison K sits on land shaped like a piece of pie, a quarter of a circle, so to speak. That being the case, the architect thought it best to put in an L-shaped building with one side open to take in the beautiful view of a nearby lake.

Plus, it’s in compliance with the city ordinance in effect at present. To facilitate business operations, he put the office space downstairs and all the family living areas on the upper floors where it’s quiet and more private.

First floor plan. / Courtesy of Nghia Architect
Second floor plan. / Courtesy of Nghia Architect
Third floor plan. / Courtesy of Nghia Architect
Fourth floor plan. / Courtesy of Nghia Architect
House section. / Courtesy of Nghia Architect

For practical reason, the office and residential spaces each have separate entrances. The office itself is conveniently accessed from the covered parking area. Sliding doors glazed using clear glass make the business space warm and welcoming.

The residential entry area is made less visible by design. It’s an ordinary swing door tucked away in a quiet place. Upon entering, you find a flight of stairs leading to the second floor that’s the first step into the home.

The stairwell and upstairs sitting room are well-lit by shafts of sunlight streaming in through the rooftop and generous openings in the walls.

Overall, the home interior is simple and clean with the clearly defined order for space utilization. Where appropriate and legal, the architect put in generous openings in the exterior walls to connect the indoors with outdoor spaces. And the result of all this is a feature wall on the side overlooking the covered carport.

It’s an architectural feature that’s easily noticeable and immediately appealing from a distance. Apart from adding visual interest to the building’s external envelope, it allows plenty of fresh air and natural light, creating a relaxed ambience in the indoor living spaces.

Home Office vietnam MAISON K

Home Office vietnam MAISON K

Pursuant to the city ordinances in effect at present, only two sides of the exterior overlooking the traffic circle and the street below are permitted to have openings in the walls. The other two sides adjacent to neighboring buildings do not enjoy the same privilege.

However, what is lacking due to limitations is nicely compensated for by rooftop skylights that illuminate the stairwell and other parts at the rear of the home. It’s a practical solution that helps reduce electricity costs and protect against humidity damage over a long period of time.

Home Office vietnam MAISON K
The third floor holds the family’s main living area.

Home Office vietnam MAISON K

Meanwhile, the other two sides have an unobstructed view of the roundabout and the street below. Climb another flight of stairs, and you come to the third floor holding the family’s main living area that’s protected by the feature wall of shimmering ceramic panels in muted shades of orange.

Together they provide a layer of insulation against heat and stress, protecting the gray concrete wall behind it. The ceramic panels that form the first line of defense are hinged on one side and swing open like doors to control light and winds passing through. The panels have grooves in them so as to drain stormwater fast in heavy rain.

Home Office vietnam MAISON K

Home Office vietnam MAISON K
The upper branching of a tree rises through the void of space on the second floor, creating an oasis of calm and a focal point in the upstairs courtyard.
Home Office vietnam MAISON K
An impressively geometric facade projects from the building. Its feature wall is covered in multiple ceramic panels in subdued shades of orange. Hinged on one side, they swing open like doors to control air and light streaming into the interior, an architectural feature designed to create an indelible impression on people passing by.

All things considered, it’s a revolutionary idea that integrates greenery as an integral part of architectural design. Green spaces offer multiple health benefits. Among other things, they give the building its character, provide shade and improve air quality.

From a distance, they add visual interest to the urban space around the traffic circle. More so than anything else, it’s the lively green and orange façade that creates a gently calming effect for people passing by.

Home Office vietnam MAISON K
Viewed from across the street in the nighttime, Maison K is a clean, well-lighted place created for health, comfort and security.

Architect: Nghia Architect (www.nghiaarchitect.com)

Lead Architect: Nguyen Tuan Nghia


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