Blog : HOUSES

Old House, New Home

Old House, New Home

A beautifully renovated 60-year-old house, a startling black beauty: this contemporary mix of old and new flows together as a single unit.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Samutcha Viraporn // Photography: Rithirong Chanthongsuk // Design:  Design Com-bini

Home Renovation

Interior decorator Pauline and nationally known architect Somrit Soonthornrungsi have spent their lives in this mid-city house. Once it had a flooding problem downstairs; that plus termites and general deterioration meant it was continually under repair. At first they thought to build a completely new house, but out of nostalgia and time constraints decided to do a major renovation instead.

“Our daughter grew up here and was upset that we were going to demolish it, so I thought, ‘why not combine old and new?’ The result was a balanced, harmonious creation with a courtyard for breezes to pass through,” said Somrit.   

As we look in from the front door the original house is on the right, across an open courtyard with planted walkway, and the second-floor verandah connects to the new house on the left. The old house is of wood and masonry, with mortar stripped to show the traditional brick. Downstairs is Somrit’s small workshop and a bike storage space, with the floor raised higher to avoid flooding from street level. The new section of the house is connected, but quite different because of its steel-frame construction. On the ground floor there is the company office.

The second floor is Pauline and Somrit’s main living area, connecting to the old  house through the courtyard. There is a living room on the right before the large indoor kitchen, which retains its original makha wood flooring but was repainted black to match the black synthetic wood of the exterior, for an informal, natural feeling to complement the green view of plants and trees outside the glass walls.

Their daughter’s room, set up like a New York loft apartment, is on the third floor. At two points a mezzanine stairway connects the central porch to the rear verandah, from which you can clearly see the 2 floors of the old house. They all lived in the house during construction of a new, steel-framed gabled roof over the old one, which was finally torn out when construction was finished, leaving the kitchen ceiling to follow the new roof angles. 

“The roof is a special black version of Shera’s “U-Slate” line. I’ve loved black since childhood, said Pauline. “When I was a kid I wanted to paint my bedroom black, but my parents wouldn’t let me!” The chic interior design work has black everywhere. The large kitchen is in tribute to both her mother-side relatives and her father, who love to cook. Besides the big kitchen pantry counter being a great place to socialize, it’s also good for informal dining.

Pauline selected furniture and décor in a “mix and match” style controlled by color, some items primarily functional and others reflecting personal style, combining old and new, cheap and expensive.

“It’s comfortable because this really reflects our way of life: the house isn’t built for show,” said Pauline’s father, “and we don’t want to be climbing up and down a lot of stairs in the day. Since coming here we’ve confined business matters to downstairs, and it’s a comfortable walk up to the second floor. The longer we’re here, the more we like it. Looking back, the old house seems stuffy, not a lot of open windows. Our lives changed after the switch.

“At first we thought the courtyard would be too small, but in the end, it worked out great!”

Once light and wind directions were figured in, design principles were applied to open the structure up, and the house clearly became more than brick, cement, wood, and steel, a happy combination of old and new narratives.

Somrit added “It’s impressive. Once the rooms were finished, furniture in, lights and water on, our home came to life anew. It’s a great comfort.”

Home Renovation

 

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Siri House Family Co-living space / Home Renovation

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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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MODERN TROPICAL HOME IN INDONESIA

Vacation House in Bali: a Harmonious Mix of Industrial Style and Local Architecture

Vacation House in Bali: a Harmonious Mix of Industrial Style and Local Architecture

Alexis Dornier is a German architect who nearly ten years ago moved to the village of Mas in Bali to build a vacation home. To properly house his furniture and art works gathered from all over the world, he combined modern building techniques with an ancient Javanese architectural style known as joglo. Based around four pillars supporting a tall roof, in olden times joglo architecture indicated the owner’s social status.

/// INDONESIA ///
Story: Patsiri Chotpongsun // Photography: Sitthisak Namkham 

Vacation House in Bali

“This house was primarily designed to showcase the ancient art of joglo wood construction. Functionality was figured in afterwards,” said Alexis. “A modern steel support framework in the middle of the house adds a new element to the architectural tone, providing added support and making the house unique, but the essential artistry of the joglo structure was unaffected and remains essentially unchanged.”

Vacation House in BaliVacation House in Bali

Joglo architecture lends its character to two prominent spots in the house while also supporting well defined modern functionality. The first is where the multipurpose room connects to the living room, showing off the joglo high ceiling. Next to that is a display spot for outstanding works of art, where a grand piano is set. Both spots are bordered by clear glass walls looking out on the incomparable verdant green of the surrounding jungle vegetation.

Vacation House in Bali Vacation House in Bali

As it opens into the spacious, high-ceilinged dining room, the kitchen also shows off the joglo architecture. Above is a unique and exciting mezzanine walkway of clear glass where skylights allow natural light to shine in below. A person walking here gets a close-up look at details of artistic work carved into the joglo wood, perhaps experiencing something of the past joy archaeologists have felt in making new and priceless discoveries.

Vacation House in Bali Vacation House in Bali Vacation House in Bali

“Hidden beneath this spacious living room, connected to it by a three-dimensional walkway with views in all directions (a spiral staircase reaching down from the mezzanine) you will find two large bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, as well as another living room. On your journey up or down you’ll see beautiful art works and striking views inside and out.”

Vacation House in Bali Vacation House in Bali

Vacation House in Bali

3-Storey Town House That Makes Space for Nature

3-Storey Town House That Makes Space for Nature

Before moving into this 3-storey Chaeng Watthana townhouse, Architect and university instructor Bhradon Kukiatnun really put his heart into the design and décor to bring about a conversation among people, animals, and things, partly intentional, part by impulse. Here are imperfections that are either blemishes or beauty marks, depending on our viewpoint.

Bhradon’s business is booming, but designing his own house raised a tremendous number of new questions, not the least of which was how the new living space would accommodate his eleven cats!

townhouse Architect Bhradon Kukiatnun

“Three years ago I bought this place new, and it took 2 years to fix up. First problem: organize storage space to hold the tremendous amount of personal stuff needed in my life while still keeping the house orderly. Then, I didn’t want a typical town house atmosphere, but neither should it be jarringly different. Part of the answer is this new façade, using a type of latticework found elsewhere in the project that fits my personal lifestyle.

townhouse Architect Bhradon Kukiatnun

          “There’s more than meets the eye in that front view: a lot of the functions are hidden,” explained Bhradon, as most town houses add a roofed-over carport in front. “To really express myself I had to go back and look at fundamentals with flexibility and an open mind. The space in front is limited. Would I rather have a carport there, or a garden? OK, garden: so I designed a garden where I could park the car! Quite different from having a carport decorated with plants.”

townhouse Architect Bhradon Kukiatnun townhouse Architect Bhradon Kukiatnuntownhouse Architect Bhradon Kukiatnun townhouse Architect Bhradon Kukiatnun

          The design called for no structural alterations, but space was apportioned differently. The ground floor holds the living room, dining area, and pantry; second floor, a small bedroom and a workroom; third floor, the master bedroom. “Inside you might mistake a door for a wall, or vice versa: my overall concept was to focus on highlighting specific points, making them fit in by hiding some elements. In the living room, the TV wall is highlighted by hiding its functionality in a wall; the use of covering elements gives the feeling of being in a cave.”

townhouse Architect Bhradon Kukiatnun townhouse Architect Bhradon Kukiatnun townhouse Architect Bhradon Kukiatnun

During our conversation Ando, Bhradon’s first adopted cat snuggled up as if  to join the group. “I learned a lot from raising cats,” he said, “they don’t think like people. Sometimes our human knowledge drowns out our instincts. But a cat! It wants to sit, lie wherever, just does what it wants. This allows single things to have more than one function: TV cabinet or sitting place? Or, for us, a storage spot. Think outside the box.”

We urban-dwellers all long for nature. Bhradon answered this with a garden area in the rear of the house: “I think gardens nourish the psyche, so I put a little green in the house, along with a small guppy pond, and it’s a perfect spirit-refresher.

townhouse Architect Bhradon Kukiatnuntownhouse Architect Bhradon Kukiatnun townhouse Architect Bhradon Kukiatnun townhouse Architect Bhradon Kukiatnun townhouse Architect Bhradon Kukiatnun townhouse Architect Bhradon Kukiatnun

“I like the ‘wabi-sabi’ way of design; the beauty of imperfection, of real life. Real life involves rust; it involves injuries. Can’t eliminate these, right? Recently my cat Kuma died, and I miss her every day. But through the sorrow of loss we see the beauty of living. Being natural is to be incomplete, and we have to live with the things that happen.” As Bhradon’s speaking voice gradually softened, an unspoken conversation brought into focus the future of the house, the man, and the cats, and whatever might lie ahead for them.

 

Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition

Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition

This home is hemmed in by factories, but its clever design leaves one feeling unconfined, almost as if outdoors, with landscaping inserted right into the house interior and its sporty swimming pool. Mitigation of unpleasant outside sounds and scents is an even higher priority than the outward appearance of the house.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Patsiri Chotpongsun // Photography: Anupong Chaisukkasem 

Advanced ideas and innovations from  the West work best in Asian countries when adapted to localities and geographic conditions, so those innovations take on unique personalities of their own. Vernacular architecture usually speaks directly to comfort and realities of local ways of life. In a traditional Thai house, for instance, one central concept is to have an open interior space, often with a high-ceilinged open thai thun area below the house that blocks the sun and catches the seasonal breeze.

Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition

Speaking to architect Surat Pongsupan of Greenbox Design the owner of this house said, “I want comfortable living Thai-style, with an open tai thun and such good ventilation that air conditioning is hardly needed.”

Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition

The owner’s close connection to the factory business and his desire for a short commute resulted in this closed-in location, where the architect’s ingenuity resulted in a truly striking design.

To counter the closed-in feeling, the house has entryways on two sides, one the drive into the front from the factory buildings, the second a walkway across the canal in back. Just strolling through the house is pleasant: I designed a semi-open space where the landscaping actually reaches into the pool and the house itself. Bedrooms, closets, and service areas, generally not use in the middle of the day, are positioned to block the house common areas from the factory environment. This was a first priority, and the appearance of the house followed from that.

Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition

House orientation takes into consideration directions and force of sun and wind in the humid tropical climate. Walls to the west and south are opaque; There are two levels of roofing with a gap between facilitating heat insulation and ventilation. The four-sided, gable-free roof is lighter, slighter, and more open than usual, and skylights are used to bring morning light into bedrooms, a nod to the early-rise lifestyle of the owner.

“The general house plan puts the living room in front, with a high ceiling. I placed the living room next to the garden and pool, with a full sliding glass wall opening up a horizontal view and drawing fresh air in. Ceilings in kitchen and dining room are high and open, giving the feeling of the traditional tai thun, as these rooms are used for every meal and common family activities. These rooms also open out onto the garden and swimming pool.” 

Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local TraditionContemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition

Upstairs, a clear glass wall offers a view all around the house. The corridor connecting bedrooms shades the pool below, making for comfortable midday swimming.

There is an overall impression of  harmony. Primary colors are gray-white and a soft, warm natural wood color. Indoors gets a lot of sunlight, but trees give it a fresh green tint, especially the brush cherry tree planted the middle of the house.

Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition

The owner, Ms. Aim, said, “we like being contemporary, but also being Thai. The openness of kitchen and pool are great. The soft sound of running water is sweet. My husband likes to listen to songs, has speakers all over the house, making for a relaxing atmosphere. It’s good for the kids to become accustomed to living with nature, which is why we emphasize the value of these common areas so much .”

We call our home “Viva House,” with the hope that all living here will have long and happy lives.

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Modern Thai House Adapts to the New Era
Modern Thai House Adapts to the New Era

In Nature’s Peaceful Embrace
In Nature’s Peaceful Embrace

Modern Thai House Adapts to the New Era

Modern Thai House Adapts to the New Era

Deep study of local architectural lore and analysis of locale-specific environmental and climatic conditions combined to create this house of fluid chic modern lines mixed into a look that clearly suggests the traditional Thai house.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Patsiri Chotpongsun, Sarayut Sreetip-ard // Photography: Soopakorn Srisakul // Style: Jeedwonder // Architect: NORMAL PRACTICE // Landscape Architect: Lana Studio  

The owner wanted to provide his parents with a home where they could enjoy the ways of life of a new era. His first thought was to create a modern-style house with all customary functionality. Combining the good points of old and new, the result is a single-story resort-style house with a contemporary look and a relaxed atmosphere reinforced by a swimming pool.

Modern Thai House Adapts to the New Era
Thick walls around the house match the design of the building itself. Note the fine interplay of diagonals between wall and roof.

With a usable area of 700 square meters, the house takes the shape of the letter “U,” filling a wide space the architect tightened up for the sake of intimacy: family members feel in closer touch with each other. The openness makes for good air circulation, yet acts as a divider between common areas of living and dining room and a more private side. The roof reminds us of a traditional gabled Thai house, but the gable is clearly steeper and higher.

Modern Thai House Adapts to the New Era

“Thai gabled roofs come in many forms,” said the architect, “but if the gable faced any way but front it wouldn’t be pretty, since it would make roof look unbalanced. From the side the sharply-sloping “lean-to roof” offers a rectangle. The house faces south to catch the wind, but also gets sun there, so the gable has to provide shade, and the eaves extend further out. Especially at the end the roof rises even higher, providing more welcoming open space in front of the house, an eye-catching feature with a contemporary look that also provides needed functionality.”

Modern Thai House Adapts to the New Era

The high gables not only help protect against southern exposure to sun, but also build a characteristic aesthetic of this home continuous with interior building design elements. The “U” shape leaves a space in the middle used as an open courtyard that holds the swimming pool and a gorgeous tree. Every point in the house looks out on it through the surrounding glass walls, connecting everyone with the courtyard and with each other.

Modern Thai House Adapts to the New Era
A pattern on the glass door with black laser-cut MDF paneling that helps filter light adds an air of mystery to the house interior.

From the exterior the architectural design flows inside into the interior in a play of shapes and lines. The interior ceiling opens up into the gable-shaped steel frame where the hardness of the steel is reduced with the use of wood, again reminding us that this is a Thai home. The furniture blends right in, shapes with a modern simplicity and a lot of wood in the mix adding to the sense of relaxation.

Modern Thai House Adapts to the New Era
Dining corner and pantry with sliding walls that close or open wide to make the space one with the porch and swimming pool
Modern Thai House Adapts to the New Era
Open, airy walls framed with black aluminum and clear glass rising up to the ceiling, showcasing the continuity between internal and external roof structure
Modern Thai House Adapts to the New Era
On the bedroom-side, rooms open to the east, onto the pool, nice catching the morning light. A walkway edging the pool shortcuts from the bedroom porch directly into the common area.

Modern Thai House Adapts to the New Era

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Surrounded by Warmth and Happiness
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Good Sunshine, Fresh Air, and Plenty of Room to Breathe

Good Sunshine, Fresh Air, and Plenty of Room to Breathe

Brick is one of the oldest known building materials in the world. It’s been used for building purposes for thousands of years before Christianity. The fact that it’s made of clay has enabled brick buildings to make deep connections with the natural world in so many ways. More importantly, the structures built of small rectangular blocks derived from nature are endowed with the power of storytelling that provides a window on vernacular culture, the environment, and the way of life native to a locality. These qualities are manifested in outstanding works of architecture, the likes of which are obvious at this house in Da Nang, Vietnam that uses brick as the main building material.

/// VIETNAM ///
Story: Patsiri Chotpongsun /// Photography: Oki Hiroyuki // Designers: Tropical Space by Tran Thi Ngu Ngon and Nguyen Hai Long 

It all started with a family’s desire to renovate their home on a budget. A team of architects from the design firm Tropical Space soon came up with an idea inspired by termite mounds. They knew that the small soft-bodied insects built their homes by cementing masses of earth with saliva. Amazingly, they are quite capable of withstanding hot and humid climates for long stretches of time. For this reason, the architects designed the house walls to be built of bricks placed on top of each other with a break between blocks to create little ventilation holes that allow in light and drive natural air circulation. Designed for tropical living, the 140-square-meter box-shaped building wrapped in a perforate shell is going by the name “Termitary House”.

Good Sunshine, Fresh Air, and Plenty of Room to Breathe
The hall at the center of the house plan is spacious and well-lit, thanks to the skylight positioned directly above it. It has room for plenty of functions ranging from a sitting parlor to dining room to pantry. The natural light cycle interacts with the interior spaces, resulting in different color renditions as day goes by.

To protect from heat, the team of architects put in perfectly opaque walls on the sides exposed to intense sunlight. Meantime, the sides with less exposure to bright light had small openings built into the walls to promote air circulation, resulting in thermal comfort in the interior living spaces year round. The same applied to the house façade that’s its most outstanding feature. The vertical flat structure was made of bricks fired the old-fashion way and laid with air holes at intervals all the way across. The result is a breathing wall that allows in just enough light and a fresh supply of air. The light and spacious atmosphere lends a modern air to the home designed to be free from dust in summer and safe from inclement weather during the monsoon season. More importantly, it’s about privacy that comes with unique design.

Situated on a rectangular plot with narrow frontage, this box shaped house is enclosed by brick walls with ventilation holes built into them. They serve multiple functions as privacy screens, breathing walls, and means of admitting daylight into the interior.

It’s a house plan that prioritizes thermal comfort as well as functions. The staircase, storage room and bath are strategically placed on the east and west sides. During daytime hours they double as a layer of insulation to keep sunlight heat out. The hall at the center is spacious and well-lit, thanks to the skylight positioned directly above it. The area offers plenty of space for a sitting parlor, pantry and dining area as well as easy access to the bedroom, bathroom and small reading room on the mezzanine. Open concept design paired with perforated room dividers contributes to visual continuity that enables family to stay connected, happy and warm even on a busy day.

A small corridor lies between the outer brick wall and the inner wall decorated with transparent glass. Glass walls maximize natural light while protecting the interior living spaces from rain.
Well thought-out design adds privacy to the bedroom on the mezzanine. Opaque walls paired with perforated brick walls and skylight in the ceiling add a new dimension to design. Meantime, glass paneling for the wall is installed to protect the room from dust and inclement weather.

Breathing walls offer several advantages. By design, countless small holes in them let a moderate amount of light shine through, increase air circulation, and reduce interior temperatures to a comfortable level. Upfront, the vertical brick structure provides an awesome privacy screen that’s energy efficient and allows people inside to see out. Made from inexpensive local materials, it comes alive when good sunshine creates movement and a shadow play on the surface. And the show goes on day and night, thanks to the form, color and texture that give the brick wall its character.

The house walls are built of bricks placed on top of each other with a break between blocks to create countless small holes that allow light and air to enter and circulate freely. The resulting perforate shell contributes to physical ease and well-being in the tropical style home.

The night is aglow under the beams of electric light shining through the perforate shell. It’s a phenomenon that conjures up the image of a beautiful lantern symbolic of a joyful celebration.

 

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

Modern Vernacular Homes
This home 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

 

 

Life After Retirement in the Provinces

Life After Retirement in the Provinces

Their retirement home epitomizes the “new life” many dream of. One such is Lisa Thomas, former manager of a famous hotel chain in Thailand who retired and moved with her mother to Ratchaburi.

“It was love at first sight. Our first arrival in Ratchaburi was, like this, in the rice growing season. I love the inexplicable green of rice paddies: somehow it always brings me a peaceful feeling.”

Lisa’s first impressions resulted in her choice of Ratchaburi Province as the site of this family home, but there were other reasons: convenience of being only two hours from Bangkok, good public utilities, and, importantly “the green horizon, without the view of skyscrapers from our old condo.”

Helping to bring Lisa’s dreams to reality were Research Studio Panin architects Assistant Professor Dr. Tonkao Panin and Tanakarn Mokkhasmita. Their design began with their listening intently and paying attention.

“We’re satisfied if we can manage to translate the everyday morning-to-evening life of a homeowner into each angle and corner of our house plan. Houses spring up gradually, resulting from our conversations with the owner. Solutions come from knowing how to step back and fully understand what we are listening to.”

Life After Retirement in the Provinces

This design answered fundamental home needs including functionality of use, features gradually added to support the owner’s natural habits, and principles of comfortable living such as “cross ventilation,” which allows air to move freely through the building.

A half-outdoor deck set in the middle of the house greets entering visitors, also capturing breezes from all directions as they transit from outside to inside. More than simply a stop on the way in, it’s a comfortable space for the owners to relax.

Life After Retirement in the Provinces

The building is laid out to follow the contour of the property, along a natural irrigation canal. To echo this locational context, a swimming pool is set parallel to the canal. The house faces west, but the problem of day-long heat is addressed with a basic structure of steel-reinforced concrete and an extended deck that widens to match the reach of the sun. Eaves and verandah have a steel framework that nicely frames the surrounding scenery.

“Without Lisa’s daily life here, the house would have no meaning. It awoke different levels in this space both from the perspective of form and in the actual space itself.” The location is in harmony with the nature of her life. In the everyday living areas – kitchen, dining room, living room – a high ceiling is called for. Louvers are set in narrow dividing panels between doors and windows for good ventilation throughout the day, bringing air into the central entrance hall and on into Lisa and her mother’s bedrooms in back, upstairs and downstairs.

“Time is the important thing now,” added Lisa. “I just want to use my time in the right way, doing what makes me happy, and part of that is returning to live with my mother, bringing back the feeling of life as a kid. The house is a safe space, recalling things that are engraved in my heart forever.” And it also memorializes the friendship felt by architects for the homeowner in a house that has created lasting happiness.

Container House with a Tropical Garden View

Container House with a Tropical Garden View

Shipping containers are easy to build and build onto. The owner of this home located in the Canggu area on the Indonesian island of Bali began trying out this concept with the intention of building a temporary home and ended with a permanent family residence.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Samutcha Viraporn /// Photography: Sitthisak Namkham 

 

Container House with a Tropical Garden View

Studio Tana’s designer architect Andika Japa Wibisana says the homeowner wanted to build a house and small office here, but the owner of the land wouldn’t sell, so he decided to build a container house in case he would have to move and build elsewhere. The designer envisioned possibilities, and came up with a house that answered the needs of all family members.

The design places smaller boxes inside a large box, the larger one a steel and glass frame, enabling creation of double walls that reduce sunlight and outside heat. The interior is composed of eighteen shipping containers, some opened up for a spacious, L-shaped central living area with a high ceiling.

“A lot of family members from Jakarta sometimes come to visit, so the living room opens out to connect with the garden, where some vegetable plots are set aside for children’s use,” said Andika.

The property is lower than the road in front, making the house about a half-storey lower than street level, with the garden behind gradually sloping further down. Looking up from the garden, the house appears to be set on a hill of fresh green grass. This beautiful atmosphere is enhanced by the gurgling of a nearby small stream.

The building’s left section holds an office and stairway, with that spacious open-plan living room to the right and service areas behind. Above, the shipping container near the garden projects outward for a better view of the green space: here is the master bedroom. Another section divides containers into kitchen and dining room. Interior décor here loses the industrial look: ceiling and walls are surfaced white, with real wood taking away the rawness of the steel.

The kitchen/pantry in a container on the second storey, with a structural dividing post in the middle.
The kitchen/pantry in a container on the second storey, with a structural dividing post in the middle.

Plants grow by the glass wall  as protection against heat. On the other wing the second floor holds two more bedrooms, one container used for one room. The entire second storey has a sharply sloping steel roof that forms an eave. Beneath is a balcony with a long walkway connecting to the building’s outer porch, all of exmet (expanded metal grating) for an attractive play of light and shadow below.

Even though some steel houses have a harsh look, this one is designed in response to a tropical lifestyle, with industrial materials combined in a way that gives an oriental look to this big 18-container home, creating convenience and comfort and meshing perfectly with the beautiful garden.

The front door divides the house left and right. Right is the office section, blocked off by a ridged container wall.
The front door divides the house left and right. Right is the office section, blocked off by a ridged container wall.
Large, spacious living room within a steel and glass frame that lets the sun in only in the morning. The tall ceiling helps reduce the heat. Evenings here are great for socializing.
Large, spacious living room within a steel and glass frame that lets the sun in only in the morning. The tall ceiling helps reduce the heat. Evenings here are great for socializing.
Another living room wall. On the ground floor is a washing area and bathroom. Clearly visible above is an arrangement of containers within the large steel frame.
Another living room wall. On the ground floor is a washing area and bathroom. Clearly visible above is an arrangement of containers within the large steel frame.
Container House with a Tropical Garden View
Spacious interior open area. Upstairs is a kitchen/pantry, dining area, and living space. Interior décor is in earth tones.
In the bedroom where the designer’s intent is to reduce the harshness of the steel with woodwork the walls and ceiling are white, as in an ordinary house. Utility systems are hidden in the pipe-like ceiling divider: the entire ceiling is not lowered, because of the height limitation of shipping containers.
In the bedroom where the designer’s intent is to reduce the harshness of the steel with woodwork the walls and ceiling are white, as in an ordinary house. Utility systems are hidden in the pipe-like ceiling divider: the entire ceiling is not lowered, because of the height limitation of shipping containers.
The kitchen/pantry in a container on the second storey, with a structural dividing post in the middle.
The kitchen/pantry in a container on the second storey, with a structural dividing post in the middle.
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 Co., Ltd. // Mechanical Engineer: EXM Consultant Co., Ltd. // Handicrafts: Bundanjai Co., Ltd.

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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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