BANGKOK / Here’s the story of a home renovation done right. Cherishing memories of the good old days, Chatchawan and Punjama Lertbutsayanukul recently had grandma and grandpa’s house restored to its former glory. They sought advice from Jun Sekino of Jun Sekino A+D, who turned it into a beautifully crafted home with added personality and character.
Sharing his renovation ideas, Jun Sekino said: “After having talked with the homeowners, we were determined to keep the front-gable house plan very much intact. Several inspection visits in the ensuing days also gave me some ideas to do it right. It was like a journey back in time to preserve all its 1940’s splendor.”
The 80-year-old house soon transformed into a new home that’s more warm and inviting. It’s aptly named “Nobita House” after the much-loved, fictional boy character in the 1970’s cartoon series “Doraemon”. In the fewest possible words, it’s about rebuilding for a better future.
Restoring the old house to a good state of repair, the architect made sure the original framework was not damaged or impaired in any way. Thanks to collaboration with a team of structural engineers, the carport was reinforced to make it capable of accommodating two vehicles side by side. The front façade was built of reclaimed timber from the old house installed vertically with protective finishes over the top to protect it from the elements.
The gable roof was improved using new material and sloping at an angle that’s proper under the circumstances. To make room for a higher ceiling, the second floor was built 1.50 meters taller than the original plan. On the ground floor, suspended panels were removed to reveal awesome ceilings with exposed wood beams. At the same time, wood windows and extra units of construction were added on to increase the floor space from 100 to 300 square meters.
Where appropriate, a system of micropiles was erected to carry an additional load. The covered shelter in front of the entrance was enlarged, while the side of the house reserved for shoe storage connected conveniently to the carport. Meantime, fully open layouts translate into better natural light and ample space for social cohesiveness. On one side, the exterior glass wall looks out over a backyard garden. On another lies a corridor leading to a small courtyard at the rear.
Thanks to open floor plans, the interior living spaces are easy on the eye. White walls with stained wood trim paired with natural light streaming in through the overhead transom create the illusion of a larger space. Nearby, white screens and Terrazzo floors combine to add vintage touches to home décor. Meanwhile, structural components made of steel, if any, are painted white to blend harmoniously with light backgrounds.
The second floor contains workspace with wood windows that evoke memories of years past. Wall paneling is flush with adjoining post and beam construction. The door frame with overhead transom is glazed using patterned glass. Not far away lies the restful master bedroom that’s furnished in a simple style. The old living quarters for house workers accessible by a mosaic walkway remain intact. It’s separated from a nearby outdoor laundry room by steel railing along the edge.
There are tall buildings nearby, while the house ground level is lower than the street. To effectively drain rainwater from the yard, decorative landscaping gravel is used. This is where garden designer Premrudee Cheewakoseth comes into play and where possible turns the ground into beautiful Japanese rock gardens.
Trees that are planted for shade include Jackfruit and bamboo, while Mini Mondo Grass or Sneak Beard provides a lush ground covering. To avoid looking too Japanese, small terraces with garden path are put in. Overall, the house boasts certain appeal similar to that of the house of “Nobita”, the much-loved, fictional boy character in the famous cartoon series “Doraemon”.
Design: Jun Sekino A+D
Landscape design: D.garden design by Premrudee Cheewakoseth
Owners: Chatchawan and Punjama Lertbutsayanukul
Story: Samutcha Viraporn
Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul
Style: Suanpuk Stylist
CIMAHI, WEST JAVA / For an Indonesian family, life in an urban kampong is a beautiful journey. Aquino Krishadi and Elis Rosmiati lived for some time in a medium-density urban kampong, which is Indonesian for village. The positive feeling that they cherish is brought with them as they move into a new home in Cimahi, roughly ten minutes’ drive from Bandung Metropolis in West Java.
Their new house is designed by Ismail Solehudin of Ismail Solehudin Architecture. Reflecting the Indonesian village experience, the siding materials that enclose and divide interior living spaces are made of rigid PVC sheets mixed with brick masonry. It’s a creative way to build, plus it provides excellent toughness and good moisture resistance.
Made for living green in a small space, the new dwelling is aptly named “Kampong in House” for the character and real certain appeal of village life that gave them the inspiration.
Sharing hispoints of view, Ismail Solehudin said that the design was based on the client experience from having lived in an urban village, plus their interest in a sustainable way of living, albeit in a small space. In so doing, hetranslated these ideas into a coherent distribution of masses and expertly crafted houseplan that divides the interior and exterior spaces.
The front of the house features an eclectic mix of items and decorations ubiquitous among urban villages across Indonesia. They include different textures and materials that come together in an untidy way. Among them are ornaments such as window box planters, skylights, gardenareas and unfilled spaces in the wall that drive natural ventilation.
Commenting on a hybrid of brickwork and PVC sheets, Ismail said that PVC is strong and durable, which explains why it’sone of the most widely used thermoplastic polymers worldwide. Here, it’s used on the façade to protect against damage from too much sun and rain. Meantime, exposed brick walls provide great opportunities to experiment with various textures and patterns. The break in the wall allows fresh air to enter and circulate in the interior, a perfect solution for houses in a tropical climate.
Step inside, and you come to anopen area with green space that’s an essential room in the house. It conveniently connects to a plant-filled living room, kitchen, and a large backyard garden. In all places, unfilled spaces in the wall and green areascreate microclimatesthat differ from those in the surrounding areas. Plus, they allow natural light and improve air circulation at the same time.
Cocooned in a comforting way, bedrooms are slightly hidden from view reachable via an interior corridor lined with functions that serve practical purposes, among them a bar table and a few book shelves.
All things considered, it’s a designthat promotes interactions among family members without intruding into their lives. It turns expertly crafted design into a home where living green isn’t just helping the environment or better quality of life. It’s also a way to bring you back in time and experience the Indonesian way of life as it’s always been.
The homegrown architecture firm SAWADEESIGN applied innovative aircraft cabin ideas to give this narrow townhouse a complete makeover. The small family home sits sandwiched between two low-rise buildings in the heart of Tan Binh District. They named the project “303 House.”
Townhouse is a typical housing type omnipresent throughout urban Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. By law, places of residence with a frontage smaller than 3.0 meters are not permitted to have more than one floor.
So the only way to build is arrange all the usable spaces and functions on the same horizontal plane. The result is a renovation done right in every sense of the word.
From the outside looking in, the entire width of the house is only 2.9 meters. With the exterior walls installed, the inside space comes to just 2.7 meters wide.
Interestingly enough, well thought-out design turns an awkward narrow plot into a single-story home that’s simple with all useable spaces giving off good vibes. The bright and airy home occupies less than 90 square meters of land.
The design duo, Doan Si Nguyen and Vo Thanh Phat, decided against the most commonly used construction process. They proposed an alternative method aimed at reducing the amount of concrete used, an option that risked being rejected by investors from the get-go.
The house ceiling is made of rockwool tole about 150 mm thick. The coated tinplate is widely used in the storage industry and large warehouses for its excellent thermal insulation. Here, it’s used to make the interior living spaces comfortable day and night.
The contemporary home interior features mixed materials. Among them, grey plaster on the wall proves a perfect complement to gray epoxy paint on the floor.
Together, they provide desirable elements for a calm, peaceful home. Everywhere, furniture made of plywood is a great way to bring a natural look to the interior.
According to the architects, the secret to creating a healthy home lies in putting multiple layers of functional spaces in neat order to shield the interior from the busy street.
This is especially true in HCMC, where many homes are prone to suffer from the negative effects of outside noise and unrestricted growth of housing areas and commercial development.
Fascinatingly, aircraft cabin ideas came in handy for the townhouse built on an extremely long and narrow plot of land. It’s reminiscent to walking along an aisle between rows of seats on an aircraft.
There’s a paved outdoor area in front of the house entrance that provides a place to socialize. Step inside, and you come into a corridor connecting to a living area, kitchen, and laundry room. Wall-mounted storage cabinets line one side of the aisle and beautifully organized functional spaces on the other.
Two bedrooms with a bathroom attached are tucked away further inside, plus a third at the rear of the house accessible by a small corridor with relaxing area. Where appropriate, clear roofing panels provide natural light for indoor plants, while openings in the wall keep the interior airy and comfortable without air conditioning.
Not only is the house plan tailored to the specific needs of a family of three. It’s also a great way to live a green life in the midst of the city. Here, in many instances homeowners rent the space in front of their houses to small retailers and businesses. But the residents at 303 House don’t need that kind of income.
They prefer to keep the door closed and enjoy privacy in the comfort of their home. All things considered, it’s mission accomplished.
An intimate country hideaway affords a view of sugarcane fields and the lush forests of Khaoyai National Park. It sits ensconced in the misty morning mountain landscape that “Pod” Thanachai Ujjin, lead singer/song writer of the Moderndog band, calls home. His favorite hangout is a platform on the outside of the house, where he likes to sit under moonlight at 2 in the morning. Precisely, nature is on his doorstep.
Characteristic of modern tropical architecture, the house is spacious, light and breezy. The homeowner likens it to the calm and peaceful Thai temple pavilion. The brainchild of Nattapak Phatanapromchai of Erix Design Concepts, the minimalist home is aptly named “Villa Sati”, literally “House of Consciousness”, to communicate the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings.
Touched by moonlight and the starry sky, it has a roofed platform along the outside of the house that’s perfect for walking meditation, which the artist and his Mom often do together as family. Sharing his little piece of paradise, Pod said: “After moving out here, I feel as if there were more hours in the day. I rise early to go jogging, read, listen to music, and write songs.”
Their country retreat is made for a simple and peaceful life. Here, the artist and his Mom have plenty of time for their favorite pastimes – art making. The house plan is well thought out. Gable roof design proves a perfect complement to the platforms along the outside, while gorgeous open floorplans increase natural light and bring the outdoors into the home.
Come in through the front door, and you find the stand-alone Butterfly Stool, a 1954 icon of Japanese industrial design by Sori Yanagi. The bedroom that looks out over the field is on the right. Straight ahead is the kitchenette that connects to a living area that doubles as multipurpose room. Nearby, a set of stairs with dark clapboard siding leads to the attic that the artist has turned into a bedroom. The farthest end of the house is open to let southeasterly winds enter, a great way to ventilate the entire home. From here, the rolling sugarcane fields and mountains beyond can be seen in full view.
Floating furniture is an easy hack to establish zones in open spaces and create traffic flow in the room. Modular storage cabinets from USM have the most prominent position alongside wall-mounted abstract art by Tae Pavit and a few painted pictures by Pod’s Mom.
Commenting on design details, architect Nattapak Phatanapromchai said the platforms along the outside of the house afford beautiful panoramic views of the lush mountain landscape. Large openings in the walls allow fresh air to enter, creating air flow and bringing down ambient temperature to the point there’s no need for air conditioning.
Meantime, the gable roof with long overhangs protects the platforms along the outside from the elements. The architect did away with the fascia, wooden boards covering the ends of rafters, to highlight the framework supporting the roof as was the case with the Thai style of residential architecture. Roof shingles are reminiscent of ancient tiles made beautiful by special paint for a real custom effect, while cement board deck or sheathing is installed underneath to protect against leaks.
House framing for the most part consists of wood, while framed glass wall systems stand tall from the threshold to the tie beam supporting the roof. The secret to a neat and tidy house plan lies in the side posts of every doorway and glass wall frame aligning with gable-end studs both when the door is open and shut. The result is a beautiful country house with clean design in the midst of scenic surroundings.
The house superstructure is built of Ta-khian timber, scientific name: Hopea odorata, a species of large trees native to Southeast Asia. Elevated 1.80 meters above ground level, the floorboard rests on steel reinforced concrete framing that’s a load-bearing foundation. The stilt house design that’s ubiquitous in tropical climates provides ventilation under the floor, a brilliant way to keep the home cool all year round. By and large, it’s a perfect example of traditional Thai house design, one that’s easy to look at and comfortable to live in.
The homeowner wrapped it up nicely. “I like the relative smallness of the house and surrounding open spaces. They’ve had a significant impact on human minds. For me, it gives vitality and enthusiasm. It fills my life with laughter and inspires exciting new ideas. It just so happens. Once I have an idea that I think has real potential, the rest is easy. Lyrics for a number of songs were written right here in this humble abode. The wide open spaces of the countryside are hugely rewarding for me as an artist.”
A duplex house design by EAST Architect avails natural light, sun and air flow to provide indoor thermal comfort that’s the hallmark of the ultimate tropical design.
One wing is a semi-outdoor living space roofed over with ceramic shingles in a timeless shade of white. It’s made almost entirely of wood with a balcony and the Thai-style underfloor space high enough for additional uses. The other wing boasts the stylistic characteristics of the postmodern era. To make the most of natural light, the external walls are made of glass. Upstairs a straight passageway connecting individual rooms leads to a cantilevered addition that extends 6 meters supported by a V-shaped steel rigid frame – an unusual approach to lightweight house design.
The upper covering of a living wing is made of steel reinforced concrete slabs. The gable roof that rises above them is topped with corrugated aluminum panels to allow light to pass through. This keeps the modern tropical home well-lit by day and glowing with light and color by night. No wonder they call it “Baan Hing Hoy”, literally translated “Fireflies House”.
A piece of architecture representing the nexus between Eastern and Western cultures, Fireflies House is a design that merges Modern and Traditional in a tropical home. The house plan doesn’t sit parallel to the road in front of it. Neither does it align with property boundary lines. Rather, it’s designed to respond to wind direction and the sun’s path across the sky. That pretty much summarizes the design concept embraced by two assistant professors, Pirast Pacharaswate and Sayanee Virochrut, of EAST Architect. The design duo prides themselves on being “architects of tropical rainforests”.
Together they turned a wish into reality. The homeowner, Mr. Thanawat Yongsanguanchai, wanted to build a house for a big family, a place to spend more time in nature. He was looking for a light and airy house plan, one that’s comfortable without air conditioning. The architects responded by using a lot of natural building materials. The result was a well-thought-out design that made people feel as if they were tunneling their way into another world hidden at the rear of the property.
“In essence the design takes into account basic human needs and the culture in which people live. The relationship between culture and climate is one of the inevitabilities of life. It’s for this reason that the house is built with knowledge of the climate in mind,”said architect Pirast Pacharaswate.
“We think up contradictory thoughts when designing the duplex house plan. The kids belong to a new generation, but their living wing boasts certain features that are characteristic of traditional Thai style. This is contrary to the design of the parents wing, which is evidence of a new language of architecture. It sits under a roof that glows with light and color, which bespeaks the postmodern discipline of art. The upper covering of the parents wing is made of steel reinforced concrete slabs. The gable roof that rises above them doesn’t function as roof in a proper way.”
“It’s our intention to present a Thai-style house under the gable roof that many consider as old-fashioned. So we use a modern building material instead. The result is a roof that’s topped with corrugated aluminum panels. It looks light, airy and very noticeable with an entirely new perception.”
“We learned through conversation that the homeowner preferred white, and responded with a house plan in shades of white. The children’s wing gives a powerful impression of being Thai. It’s protected by ceramic roof shingles in the lightest shade. Wood is the main building material here. Although metal is part of roof framing, the skill and craftsmanship is Thai style. The living spaces are linked by a roofed platform along the outside of the house, unlike the parents wing where spaces are connected via corridors that bespeak modern design.”
The children’s wing is designed for semi-outdoor living, thanks to the veranda and spacious Thai-style underfloor spaces. Proceed to the parents wing, and you come into a glass-enclosed room that’s a great way to bring the beauty of the outdoors inside. A straight corridor connects individual areas and functions reminiscent of Western-style house plans.
The ground floor has pantries and a dining area with sitting room. It’s dominated by a long dining table that’s custom-made. The upper floor contains mom and dad’s bedroom that projects horizontally into space. Glass walls pour natural light into the room that’s embraced by nature.
There’s a multifunctional room with wood décor ideas. An array of alternating plain and hand carved wood cabinets ooze the charm and poise of Thai style.
The upstairs bedroom projects 6 meters into space, supported by a V-shaped steel rigid frame for a lightweight look. Floor-to-ceiling glass wall systems afford views of the landscape. Not all ceilings are horizontal. Above, the children’s bedroom boasts a ceiling that slopes in agreement with the gable roof. The front side under the gable is open to bring natural brightness inside, while accent wall ideas behind the headboard fill the room in style. There’s something quintessentially Thai in the other bedroom where the platform bed frame is wider than the mattress, an easy hack to create space for wedge pillows and the triangle pillow that’s unique to Thai culture.
“To create a good first impression, an architectural space has to be a noticeable new phenomenon. Hence, a garden passageway is designed for people to recognize what’s unique about ceramic roof shingles as they approach the house from various distances, each resulting in different impressions. Psychologically, humans and architecture interact with each other all the time. Circulation, or human movement in and around a piece of architecture, constitutes an interaction. It’s interactive experience that creates an awareness and evokes admiration of architectural beauty,” said architect Pirast Pacharaswate.
This modern home under the gable roof evokes admiration through design and the power of storytelling about the architectural design concept that integrates traditional values, longing for nature, and great aesthetic pleasure to form a coherent whole.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.
This is a stilt house design where the contemporary style merges with rural vernacular in Chanthaburi. It’s built on the concept of home with a dual nature – a villa-cum-homestay. The design pays particular attention to the simple life and harmony with the surroundings, plus good positioning in relation to light and wind patterns makes it more comfortable to live.
/// THAILAND /// Story: Wuthikorn Sut // Photography: Soopakorn Srisakul
Baan Lek Villa is the work of “Kaew” Rinrada Nirote, homeowner and architect at GLA DESIGN STUDIO, in collaboration with designer Pitch Nimchinda. It’s intended to accommodate her family, house guests and friends of her mother (“Lek” Kuna Nirote).
Rinrada came to Bangkok to further her studies and has worked there since graduation. Little by little it dawned on her that building a new house in her native Chanthaburi would be a good idea. It would give her a place to stay and a small office away from the city. She wanted a design that looked simple yet attractive, kept within the budget, and blended into the community.
The result is a home that merges with the surrounding countryside. Simple house design offers two distinctly different zones – private and public areas. The living space is raised up on piles, while the ample multi-use area underneath it is meant for dining and receiving guests.
Sharing her slice of paradise, Rinrada says that nowadays more people are yearning for a simple way of living. Advances in technology have made it possible for us live anywhere and still be able to work. What we need is a case for carrying clothes and a few personal belongings, plus a portable computer. Even better if you have a place of your choice that helps you relax in nature. Intended to make our breaks truly refreshing in the countryside, this house was complete only recently. So far it has received many guests and friends of her mother and brother.
“We didn’t intend to make it a family business. I was into hotel designing to begin with. Now that I have a house of my own, Mom has invited her friends over. They loved it and spread the good word. So we thought the time was ripe to provide the accommodation of guests. It’s important that they get to experience the relaxing side of Chantaburi town,” she said.
What makes this house unique is the architectural detail that’s right for the climate of Thailand. The design takes into account seasonal variations, such as sunlight and wind patterns, to create a comfortable environment. Rinrada got the inspiration for the multi-use ground floor from “Have you eaten yet?” a traditional expression of goodwill that Thais say as a sign of welcome. This explains why a dining table set and kitchen counter are there. The area doubles as waiting room for people who drop by for a visit just like old times.
Walk up the stairs and you come to a more private area of the house, which consists of a large balcony and main living quarters. Overall, the building is made of concrete that works well with beautiful wood accents. To make the building appear lightweight, the entire floor of the overhanging balcony is made of steel framework. Taken as a whole, it’s a perfect mix of concrete, steel and clever design that lets the beauty of natural wood stand out.
For an aesthetic appeal, the ground floor is covered to some extent by eggshell pebble pavers that seamlessly connect with the surrounding landscape. The garden sits in the shade for much of the day thanks to the house being positioned on the western side of land. The fact that it’s located in the further reach also leaves plenty of extra room available for future projects. For the time being, Rinrada intends to turn the front yard into an ample garden filled with large trees, shrubs and natural light.
Most importantly, Rinrada says it’s the understanding of the context that sets the main idea about good house design. Appropriate orientation involves more than just the sun’s path or seasonal wind patterns. Every little detail must be taken into account. This modest home is designed to blend with the environment and other key attributes that have made Chanthaburi town famous. It merges with rural vernacular and sprawling fruit orchards. It’s built of material that’s available locally, reclaimed lumber included. All told, it’s one that stands in perfect harmony with the community.
This light and airy house with lots of white looks like an optical illusion. Nestled in the heart of Vientiane, it appears to be floating above a lush green oasis with crystal clear pool water. The beautiful dwelling called “White House” is the work of Saola Architects, a homegrown design studio in Laos.
The pastel white house with 160 sq. m. usable internal space sits encompassed by its natural surroundings. As the architects intended, it has the general shape of the letter V. The ground floor is mostly enclosed by glass walls that afford the seamless integration of indoor and outdoor living spaces.
The architects said they got the design inspiration from a vernacular architectural style in Laos. The house plan, which reflects local traditions, has been adapted to make it suitable for modern living. This includes making the interior living rooms bright and airy, and connect to outdoor spaces with no apparent gaps or spaces in between.
The swimming pool is placed in a straight line along one side of the V-shaped design that in a way is dictated by the appearance of the land. As time passes, sunlight reflected from the pool puts on a spectacular shadow and light show on nearby walls. Because the ground floor enclosure is made mostly out of glass, only the upper part of the house is visible from afar and seemingly hovering above the landscape.
The inground pool provides passive cooling that drives natural air circulation, thereby improving the indoor thermal comfort. As pool water evaporates, air currents carry moisture or water vapor into and out of the room. As a result of that, the interior is kept cool without the need for air conditioning. The heat gain control makes the house comfortable to live despite a hot and humid climate.
Aesthetically, the house is a mix of bare concrete on the inside and lots of white paint on the outside. For an improvement of the indoor climate, wood is the main décor material for its ability to provide a soothing ambience especially in private areas on the second floor. By and large, the seemingly floating house is poetry in motion when kissed by the sun. It’s spacious, airy and bright thanks to open floor design, plus windows that allow plenty of natural light and good ventilation all year round.
This lovingly restored home on the canal is a hybrid of wood and concrete. Made of recycled materials from an old building on the property, it evokes memories of the house on stilts symbolic of the Thai way of life. Reclaimed timber paired with concrete framework and smart design elements creates a harmonious blend of traditional and modern.
Suthep Iam-on is the owner of an old house on the canal in Bang Pakong area. It has fallen into disrepair. At first, he had planned to just leave it at that and move on to build a new house closer to the road instead. He sought advice from architect Kasin Sornsri of Volume Metrix Studio about building a naked concrete home. But after inspecting the proposed site, Kasin thought it wise to do a complete teardown of the old home to make room for a new one using materials recycled from the old house.
Explaining his concept, Kasin said: “Essentially it’s about building a new home that’s very much part of the spirit of the times. It’s a design that connects with the way of life of the ordinary people. At the same time, it doesn’t have to be the kind of Thai style house that we have grown accustomed to for years. Not many people appreciate that. Nor is it anything like a group of buildings of the Ayutthaya Period.”
Built by locals over 40 years ago, the old stilt house was in poor condition. Many home features did not meet living standards now, plus a few add-ons were put in place including concrete walls that enclosed the ground floor, which affected structural integrity. Nonetheless, the way of life here has remained unchanged and carefully integrated into the new design. In the process, every little detail was decoded into intelligent language. The result was an entirely new home built on a concrete structure. It has all the key attributes of the traditional Thai home, such as an open space on the ground floor, a platform along the outside for fresh air, and corridor connecting the rooms. They are wrapped in old timber recycled from the old house.
Ground Floor Living Room, Simple Materials, and Lighting Ideas
The first eye-catching feature is concrete framework with polished surfaces paired with stunning wood accents. Reclaimed timber from the old house finds new purposes as flooring materials, interlaced structures resembling lattices, and pillars supporting lightweight parts of the building. Walk into the interior, and you come before an open floor plan that’s the hallmark of modern home design. Further back lies a courtyard with corridor connecting the rooms. There are bedrooms on one side and an open space on the other, which looks out over a garden and nearby Bang Samak Canal. As the homeowner puts it, the area arouses a sentimental longing for the past, especially memories of his father’s time.
One thing the architect is able to do is concentrate on significant features of the Thai house and incorporate them in the language of new house design. They include the use of transom windows, skylights, pillars, and lattices, which he carefully places at intervals. In so doing, large pillars recycled from the old house are erected along the western front to help protect the area exposed to the sun. By late afternoon, the soft glowing light from the sky alternating with dark areas creates a relaxing atmosphere like the Thai house in olden days. By nightfall, lanterns light up at intervals as a means of visual expression and make the home cozy and welcoming. The house built on stilts offers plenty of headroom on the ground floor to let fresh air enter and circulate from the southwest. Not far away, a full grown tamarind tree keeps the area in shade for much of the day.
The Allure of a Handcrafted Home
The house has many aviaries for keeping birds in. They are there by design. At different places, new decor items stand embraced by old artifacts as a means of visual expression that merges countryside vernacular with modern living. Together, they represent a source of pride and pleasure within the local community. More than anything else, it’s a handmade home in its own right. The architect’s message is evident. That is to say, a home doesn’t have to be of impeccable character. Bricks don’t have to be identical to make beautiful walls. “Likewise, if we look at life carefully, we’ll find that everyone is interesting in his own special way. All ways of life are just as beautiful,” said the architect.
A renovation done right turns this 40-year-old house into a white minimalist home that oozes charm and character. It’s spacious with all mod cons. The original frame of the house is retained, but important interventions are added to improve structural integrity, enhance indoor comfort and boost curb appeal. Among them, an array of vertical blades provides vital sun shading integrated in the façade.
Condominium living is awesome for young adults and families without kids. But as their family grew, Prem and Wasinee Chatmanop soon found it unfit to answer their lifestyle needs. That was reason enough to go searching for a house to buy starting from their familiar neighborhood. Call it serendipity. It wasn’t long before the couple found a fixer-upper located on a 40-year-old housing development in Choke Chai 4 area. The house was in poor condition and had to be a completely renovated. A lot had to be demolished, from the floors to walls to ceilings that had fallen into decay. Only the beams, poles and gable roof trusses that were part of the original load bearing structure were preserved.
Out with the old, in with the new
“I went out and looked at several houses. In the end, I was really pleased that I chose this one. The old house sat on nice square shape land 100 square wah in extent that was characteristic of housing estates in the past. I had a team of building engineers do a structural integrity assessment to determine it was good to buy. The house’s interior was old and in disrepair. So we left the renovation project in the good hands of architect Sitthichai Chompooh of the Perspective design studio. We specifically chose to have him do it after having seen his work in ‘The Renovation’, a BaanLaeSuan TV program. It happened to be the style that I liked,” said Prem.
At first, the architect was a bit concerned since the old house was built on a slope below the street level. In spite of that, he was attracted by the gable roof that was the popular appeal in the old days. This made it possible to create an open concept floor plan that seamlessly merged with a lush green side garden. The result was a complete transformation that offered 287 square meters of living spaces.
Sharing his experience, Sitthichai said: “The ground floor was further elevated by 30 centimeters to prevent groundwater flooding. Then, the old false ceiling suspended from the structure above was removed to create more headroom. Next, everything that had been added to the existing construction was demolished to make room for a new open floor plan. This included taking out the old floors, walls and extensions that were damaged over a long period of time.”
Higher floor, more windows, and continuous flow
The renovation project started with further elevating the ground floor to put it higher than street level. Then, the entire floor plan was reorganized and the exterior redesigned. This results in bigger windows that allow for natural daylighting and the interconnectedness between spaces.
The highlight of his design is a spacious interior that brings indoor and outdoor rooms together to form a larger whole. Plus, the atmosphere is relaxing, thanks to side garden ideas that bring the benefits of natural light into the interior. All of this is achieved without making changes to the original framework of the house. Where appropriate, unnecessary details are reduced and important units of construction added to enhance structural integrity. In the meantime, green spaces are integrated in the design for indoor thermal comfort, while simple clean lines create a warm and inviting place to unwind after a long day at work.
Taking everything into account, it’s an amazing house makeover, one that transforms an old-fashioned fixer-upper into a modern minimalist home that reflects the personality of the people living in it.
A cool and restful home close to nature
Slightly off-white walls go best with wood accents. The gray tinge is a winner with soft, weathered wood trim. It’s a contemporary calming color scheme just right for an open floor plan that extends from the living room to dining room to pantry. That way a feeling of continuous flow is created, and it makes perfect sense to float a sofa in the middle of a large room. From the inside, the living room is enclosed by glass window walls that look out over a lush green side garden, a visual of the design that makes the homeowner couple very happy.
Sharing her experience, Wasinee said: “We spend the most time here in this area, unlike at the condo where the kitchen was isolated from the rest of the interior. The floor plan layout contains a variety of functions separated from one another by furniture rather than being enclosed by walls. It’s an open concept design that promotes social interactions. Prem sits here at his desk. I can see the kid playing at the sofa while preparing a meal in the kitchen nearby. It’s a flexible layout that’s easy to update. For the time being, the more space, the better. The child is growing up fast, and more furniture will be added in future.”
The renovation project benefits from large openings in the wall that let natural light stream into the interior living spaces. In the meantime, privacy is very important and needs to be protected. This explains why only the side of the house facing the solid wall of an adjacent townhouse is open for daylighting and connecting seamlessly with a side garden. Commenting on the renovation plan, the architect said:
“We put in a sundeck patio that’s easily accessible from the dining room. It serves multiple purposes. Where appropriate, vertical fin facades are erected to shield the house from the sun while allowing natural ventilation and daylighting. The upright structure also doubles as outdoor privacy wall.”
Taken as a whole, the ground floor is very well thought out. To prevent the living room from smelling like food, an enclosed kitchen is built at the rear of the house that’s devoted to Thai cooking. The back of the house also has a bedroom kept out of sight in one of the quietest locations. The second floor has three bedrooms, the largest of which affords a garden view from above.
In a few words, the renovation project brings new ideas and energy to an old house after it was vacant for many years. Done right, the old-fashioned gable roof house completely transforms into an awesome minimalist home oozing with charm. Simple, clean lines give the house its character as well as beauty. Above all, it’s a piece of architecture that connects past, present, and future.