Blog : HOUSES

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

The renovation of this hundred-plus year-old rowhouse in Charoen Krung Soi 44 is more than a home improvement: for Mou Lumwatananont, it’s a homecoming she’d never imagined.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Sarayut Sreetip-ard /// Photography: Sitthisak Namkham /// Style: Jeedwonder /// Design: sea.monkey.coconut 

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

“My mother was born here, but we moved before I was two. After building it up from 2 storeys to 2½ storeys, my aunt continued to use it as an office. However, that business ended many years ago, and it has been only two years since we began making plans for renovation and conversion to fulfill our long-time dream of a guest house and a café.”

This area’s former prosperity is apparent in traces of European colonial-style architecture and bustling alleys that now welcome international tourists and backpackers to the charm of its storied history. Mou and architect Pok (Wachirasak Maneewatanaperk) from sea.monkey.coconut share views on the value of  preserving history through architecture.

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

“Renovating this great old building, I didn’t want to change a lot. But I discovered it had already changed. An upper floor had been added, and it had been expanded out back as far as it could go. The entire second-storey wooden floor had been covered with another material. In line with building preservation guidelines, Mou and I decided to make clear distinctions between old and new. We kept intact the front wall and brick walls all around, chiseling off interior mortar to show weight-bearing structures, including wood wall beams fitted into brick arches, and we kept the charming mortared patterns of the original roof.”

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

For warming the heart, the morning sunshine is no match for fragrant fresh-brewed coffee topped with milk foam and a gold-skinned croissant just out of chef Lolo’s oven, amid a modern-vintage atmosphere with a touch of French and British, Thai and Chinese styles integrated seamlessly into an elegant whole. The lower floor is chic travelers’ café, a wooden stairway stretching up to guest rooms above. Visitors might wonder about the functionality of the steel poles they see set at intervals throughout. AS Pok explained,

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

“This area is a walled-in rectangle, and without changing outer walls and structure at all we’ve created a new house within the frame of the old one, sinking micro pilings into the root foundation and installing all new support pillars. It was important to keep the new structure separate. Concrete flooring was poured on the ground level and separated by a foam at the joints where it meets the original walls. These “expansion joints” keep outer and inner structures from being attached, so if the floor subsides, it won’t pull a wall down with it. On the second level, we’d intended to keep the original wood flooring, but found irreparable termite damage, so we had to replace it. Behind the house we changed to steel and drywall construction to install walls and latticework. Building here was difficult because of the limited space. Fronting on a narrow street made delivery difficult. There was nowhere to stack & store materials, so all work had to begin inside. When the inside was done, we brought in the materials stored outside and switched to working on the front. There was a lot of planning involved to make it possible for the craftsmen to be able to work at all.”

Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House Chez Mou: A Home Hidden In the Frame of an Old House

Row houses lasting more than a hundred years naturally tell stories with marks from sun and wind, just as with marks left on our lives by travel. Leaving to study and live in England for more than twenty years Mou could never have expected the winds would slowly blow her back to her origins with a new feeling, one born of love and dreams.

The word “Chez” is French, meaning “at,” or “at the home of,” hence the name: Mou has opened her home to welcome friends at “Chez Mou,” where stories are told by marks on bricks and sweet smiles. Here is a place full of  feeling of release from travel, and full of a bittersweet, gentle fragrance.

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Power of Dharma (and Nature)

Power of Dharma (and Nature)

This beautiful house belongs to Bhalangtham Klomthongsuk, a well-known drama series organizer and television personality. The single-level home plan takes up most of the 200-square-wah land space with modern living amenities and a private retreat amidst nature. The peaceful setting fits the lifestyle needs of the homeowner whose name translates as the power of dharma.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Ajchara Jeen /// Photography: Sitthisak Namkham /// Owners : Bhalangtham Klomthongsuk  /// Interior Designer :  Suranart Lerdkunakorn  

Showing us around the property, he said:

“On first seeing, I liked the way it differed from the style typical of modern-day housing developments where everything looked very similar. Besides, I’ve always preferred a single-level floor plan. Initially, I didn’t plan on doing any remodeling for five years, kind of waiting for Arty (nickname of his son Natewut) to grow big enough to have his own room. But, I didn’t want my elderly Mom to climb up and down the stairs any more. So, here we are! This house offered many advantages. It was fully functional for an old home. There wasn’t much damage to repair to begin with, except a few updates here and there to make home life easier. That was pretty much it.”

Nature House
A couch makes for a cozy outdoor room between Bhalangtham’s bedroom and the nearby compact garden.

“The most outstanding part of the house is a small courtyard garden at the center of the floor plan.  The open space offers refreshing environment in the middle of lush foliage. There’s an outside sitting area with a private garden view.”

Nature House
The courtyard that connects the bedroom wing to the function wings is bright, airy, and suitable for multiple purposes.

From the main entrance, a hallway leads to a corridor that connects to the left and right wings of the house. The right wing contains a kitchen and dining room, while the left wing has a bedroom with private bath that has since been transformed into a multi-use space. The most outstanding part of the house is a small courtyard garden at the center of the home plan where Bhalangtham’s bedroom is located. The open space offers refreshing environment in the middle of lush foliage. There’s an outside sitting area with a private garden view.

Nature House
Lined with greenery, the house’s main entrance feels warm and inviting. Creative vertical garden ideas paired with floor-standing houseplants add a relaxing tropical feel to the entryway.
Nature House
The hallway leads to a living room lit by natural daylight that streams into it from one side of the building. Indoor plants re-humidifies the room preventing it from feeling too dry.

The furnishing and decoration is left in the good hand of interior designer and close friend Suranart Lerdkunakorn. Knowing the homeowner’s taste, Suranart creates a mix-and-match interior combining chic vintage ornamentation with newer furniture and decorations from different eras and styles. On the whole, home décor and accents give a hint of Eastern culture that makes the interior warm and welcoming. Strong, deep colors make the interior room visually interesting. Asked to elaborate on this, the designer said:

“Bhalangtham likes the metallic duck-head green and navy blue; hence much of the interior is pained dark shades of color. Together, they bring renewal and nature to the indoor living spaces. As for furniture and decorations, a chinoiserie dining table that’s a gift from the previous homeowner comes in handy to reduce the stiffness of modern home design. Elsewhere, vintage décor ideas imported from Bhalantham’s old house complement a look that’s stylish and relaxing.”

Nature House
The duck-head green of the wall and the cream and beige of living room furniture provide an agreeable contrast. Green leaves freshen the atmosphere and make the room feel warmer and more inviting. The living room is part of the function wing that’s designed to serve multiple purposes. An ethnic design carpet adds curious excitement to the room.
Nature House
A small dining area adjoining the living room is flexible and party ready, thanks to a chinorserie table that was a gift from the previous homeowner.
Nature House
The metallic duck-head green dominates a corner where young Arty practices music. Like the homeowner intended, the green room serves to connect indoor spaces with the lush courtyard outside while the sound of music rejuvenates the atmosphere.
Nature House
The dark shade of blue in Bhalangtham’s bedroom contrasts with the beige of leather upholstery on the furniture and the floor in natural wood stain. An area carpet in lighter shades brightens the room.

A perfect amalgam of chinoiserie, vintage, modern, and classic styles is a distinctive feature that gives the house meaning and character. Combine that with a courtyard filled with lush foliage of the container garden, and the benefits are amazing. Despite its small size, the patch of greenery serves as the lungs of the house, a condition that ensures everyone wakes up fresh and happy every day.

Nature House
For the homeowner, nothing compares to his favorite hangout with a private garden view.
Nature House
Besides the lone tree that’s the focal point of the yard, the outdoor room is adorned with potted houseplants, mostly tropical species. Plant containers in various shapes and sizes offer plenty of seats that make the area party ready.

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In Sync with the Rhythms of Nature

In Sync with the Rhythms of Nature

Building a sustainable home involves a great deal of knowledge of the surroundings and their relationships with nature. In the hot and humid climate of Thailand, it’s useful to have a good grasp of the sun, the wind, and seasonal thundershowers in designing a home that’s livable and aesthetically pleasing. This house is built around that concept – one that promotes well-being and the comfort of the indoor environment.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Patsiri Chot /// Photography: Soopakorn Srisakul 

The architect uses a folding process common in metalworking to translate multiple planes into three-dimensional interior living spaces. Vertical surfaces are later installed and wall openings added to enable the home to effectively connect to its natural surroundings.

That being said, architect Nantapon Junngurn took the most sensible course of action. He positioned the home plan in relation to seasonal variations. In a few words, all aspects of the sun, the wind, and weather patterns were taken into account. He then put the idea to the test to determine what architectural form and space would best fit in with the environment. In so doing, a folding  process common in metalworking was used to translate two- dimensional data into 3D modeling. The result was a comfortable home that was oriented around a central courtyard. To bring the outdoors in, large openings in the exterior walls were included in the plan in a bid to retain the connection to the home’s natural surroundings.

The architect said: “All things considered, a U-shaped home plan is preferred over other styles. The front entrance sits facing north, which is good since it is considered to be less sun-intrusive.  The rear of the house faces due south and is kept closed because it is located next to neighboring houses. The west side is reserved for service areas with a music room and kitchenette, which confirms that home cooking is not a big part of the family lifestyle. Here, double brick construction goes to work reducing thermal transmission and protecting the home’s interior from hot sun. Plus, the back area is in shade for much of the day, thanks to the canopy of a mature tree courtesy of next door neighbors.”

The further end of a sitting area is built of concrete that runs the entire length of the wall. An increase in floor space is achieved by simply doing away with support poles. Bottom line. Nothing comes between the lush garden view and the interior living spaces.

The U-shaped floor plan had a small body of low ground that transformed into an inner courtyard filled with greenery. There is an Indian oak, or freshwater mangrove tree (Barringtonia acutangula) that is now in top form providing a continuous layer of beautiful foliage. Nearby a Spanish cherry, or bullet wood tree (Mimusops elengi Linn) grows into a full crown. It came as a house-warming present from dad. At the center, a small pond adds a touch of nature to the courtyard garden. It’s the natural focal point that connects to practically every part of the house.

Sharing his little slice of paradise, homeowner Kongyot Kunjak said: “I like to spend time in the courtyard. In the morning, I would sit down for coffee at the dining table looking out the window for the view of the garden. The inner courtyard with a water pond surrounded by trees and shrubbery provides a place to rest. It’s refreshing to reconnect with nature and be able to bring the outdoors in. But in the evening, I prefer taking in a different view from inside the living room. Whether for work or for social gatherings, it’s wonderful to be there and experience nature every day, albeit from an indoor perspective.”

It seems the house plan best suited for the hot and humid climate is one that’s light and well ventilated. Thermal comfort can be achieved by shielding the area exposed to danger of too much sun. In the meantime, open up the part that connects to the natural surroundings. In essence, it’s about interacting with nature. When the home breathes easily, its occupants feel relaxed and comfortable to live in it, without a doubt.

The entrance hall contains a living room, dining room and a library on the mezzanine. It is bordered by glass walls on two fronts–one side opens to the front yard, the other connects to the inner courtyard which serves as engine that drives air circulation.
Large opening glass walls on two sides are there for a reason-bring the outdoors in. The courtyard that’s pleasing to the eye makes it feel like being surrounded by nature.
The living room and dining room appear light, bright and airy, thanks to the floor-to-ceiling glass walls overlooking the central courtyard. A lush, green garden under the open sky can be seen in full view from inside the home.
Located at the center of U-shaped design, the dining room takes in the view of the courtyard garden and a seating area in the foreground.
Full glass walls lighten up the entrance hall and promotes natural air circulation in the building. They provide visual continuity that makes the idyllic inner courtyard very much a part of the interior space.

“I like to spend time in the courtyard. In the morning, I would sit down for coffee at the dining table looking out the window for the view of the garden. The inner courtyard with a water pond surrounded by trees and shrubbery provides a place to rest. It’s refreshing to reconnect with nature and be able to bring the outdoors in.”

A run of stairs leading to the upper floor is cantilevered out from the wall. With one end anchored securely in the stone wall, the steel treads appear to hover in midair. Each plate is 20 millimeters thick. Large opening glass walls guarantee the garden view landscape is visible from here.
An Indian oak, or freshwater mangrove tree (Barringtonia acutangula) develops well to keep the inner courtyard in shade for much of the day. Its lush green crown adds rejuvenating effects to the garden landscape.
A Family Rendezvous

A Family Rendezvous

Because the house was left unoccupied for about ten years, naturally there were parts that had fallen into disrepair. Remaining intact were the ho-hum room dividers typical of housing developments that were built some time ago. The homeowners returned after a brief hiatus only to find it was conveniently located in the area of the school where they planned on sending their children. That was a big plus in terms of a good quality of life.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Patsiri Chot /// Photography: Sitthisak Namkham /// Owners : Vasu Thongmeepetch and Panompon Ratanaprayook  /// Architect : Praepailin Jantanachotiwong /// Interior Designer : Thaipan Nopladdarom /// Landscape : Ginggaanbai Co., Ltd. by Tawatchai Sakdikul 

To give the old house a complete makeover, the homeowners Vasu Thongmeepetch and Panompon Ratanaprayook wasted no time to consult a team of experts in architecture, interior design, and landscaping. Praepailin Jantanachotiwong, the architect, could still recall the day they met: “Besides replacing worn-out door and window casings with new ones, the highest priority was to pick a design that would best fit the homeowner lifestyle needs and be adequate for the family size. Going through the house, I was attracted to the idea of tearing down the wall separating the interior and the swimming pool outside. That would translate into enlarging the interior space big time, kind of like bringing the outdoors into the living room. It was a perfect spot for a playroom, where the children remained visible in close proximity to a parlor made for adult rest and relaxation. Eventually the whole area turned into a rendezvous point connecting people to people in a warm family atmosphere.”

 

courtyard
The courtyard consists of a garden and a swimming pool that lies at the further end to protect the privacy of the family living here. Invisible from the street, it offers a pleasant outdoor space that connects the whole house with its natural surroundings.
living room
Double-height glass walls make the playroom for kids bright and airy. It’s a TV room and toy room in one. Bean bag furniture in lively colors fits in well with the fun atmosphere of the interior room and the adjoining outdoor playground.

“The Life of Gravity concept gets its inspiration from an open space that attracts everyone in the family toward the center of the home, especially the dining area overlooking the courtyard. The room is complete with an array of folding doors that open to connect with the garden, the swimming pool, and other outdoor facilities. There’s something for everyone, and that’s what makes people gravitate to an interconnected lifestyle.”

dining room
The dining room is bordered by bi-fold glass panels that stack flush against one another as they open to connect with the garden outside. The lush courtyard can be seen in full view from inside the room, while a well-placed swimming pool provides passive cooling that reduces internal and external heat gains and brings in fresh air.
dining area
Design-savvy ideas result in thermal comfort that transforms the dining area into a family connecting room.

Thaipan Nopladdarom, the interior expert, responded with a new home plan that divided into three zones. He said: “A mix of reception room, playroom for kids and dining space set contiguously on one open floor plan. Clever screen ideas control natural light shining into the interior. Take for example lattice design on the stairway wall that brings just enough light into the home, thereby eliminating the need for electric light in the daytime. Elsewhere, open windows can benefit the indoor environment. They let fresh air in and improve the air quality in indoor spaces. As for the furnishing and decoration of the room, the emphasis is on the minimalist style. Only a few pieces of furniture are there because they are needed. Where appropriate, built-in furniture is installed as permanent part of a larger construction. Lighting setups vary according to the specific needs of each location. To avoid illumination bouncing throughout the room, accent lights are installed to create interest at night.”

The Life of Gravity concept gets its inspiration from an open space that attracts everyone in the family toward the center of the home, especially the dining area overlooking the courtyard. The room is complete with an array of folding doors that open to connect with the garden, the swimming pool, and other outdoor facilities. There’s something for everyone, and that’s what makes people gravitate to an interconnected lifestyle. For the children, it’s the playroom that has become their favorite hangout. For mom and dad, the dining area has been an oasis of relaxation. They can rest by the pool, or go for a quiet saunter around the yard. Regardless of where, the family will never be out of sight of one another.

To make the courtyard lush and functional, Tawatchai Sakdikul, the landscape architect, was instrumental in planting shade trees to avoid some of the heating effects and keep the home cool. Apart from being pleasant to look at, the yard is easy to keep clean with all features functioning as intended. As for the highlights, he said: “We put in a waterfall that became a focal point in the swimming pool area. Then a walkway was built around the yard. For the outdoor playroom, we added an oversized rabbit head sculpture to arouse exciting curiosity and a blackboard to scribble something on as they played. As for the plants, we avoided the dense thorny undergrowth that was the most common cause of injury. Rather, we focused on growing a variety of herbs that promoted learning about the natural world.”

minimalist style
Subtle, soft shades of colors that speak to the minimalist style keep the sitting parlor calm and spacious like the homeowners intended.

An open floor plan for the home offers many benefits. In this particular case, it answers the lifestyle needs of the homeowners whose business has to do with manufacturing and selling garments online. The floor plan that minimizes the use of small, enclosed rooms means they can sit and work anywhere and still be visible. Here, happiness is being home with the children and getting work done at the same time. As one of the homeowners put it: “We are thankful that the architect designs it in this way instead of separating adults and children occupants into different zones. The interconnected floor plan answers the borderless lifestyle that combines work life and family life in one. It’s designed for easy updates based on needs. That’s what makes living here fun. It’s easy to get why we love this house so much.”

“The Life of Gravity concept gets its inspiration from an open space that attracts everyone in the family toward the center of the home, especially the dining area overlooking the courtyard. The room is complete with an array of folding doors that open to connect with the garden, the swimming pool, and other outdoor facilities. There’s something for everyone, and that’s what makes people gravitate to an interconnected lifestyle.”

dining area
A level platform along the outside of the building is ready for an alfresco dinner when the weather is nice.
outdoor playroom
A rabbit head sculpture adds interest to an outdoor playroom by the pool, while a lush green lawn makes it a nice place for kids to run around.
swimming pool
Seen from across the swimming pool, the recently remodeled home is a welcome place that makes the family feel safe and warm.

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Bringing Nature into the Home

Bringing Nature into the Home

The family’s firstborn son is married and household members have increased. For the past 40 years, the old house located on a residential estate has gone through various stages of repair and expansion. The time for further improvements has come, and the Sattayavinij family thought it wise to renovate the dated, tired- looking home, turning it into one that’s warm, livable, and in sync with the present time.

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

Woranol Sattayavinij, the firstborn, is an architect at the reputable company Architects 49 Limited. And the responsibility to remake the home rested with him. Earlier on, the family had entertained the idea of tearing down the old house to make room for a new one set on 96 square wah of land. Fully aware of the family’s lifestyle needs, the kind of place they wanted, and the limited budget they had, he had a change of mind and went for a renovation project instead.

 

Tall aluminum latticework that makes the front façade protects the west-facing home from harsh sunlight. It provides a buffer against solar heat gain building up in the interior. On the street, black iron lattice fencing promotes natural air circulation and doubles as a privacy screen.
Tall aluminum latticework that makes the front façade protects the west-facing home from harsh sunlight. It provides a buffer against solar heat gain building up in the interior. On the street, black iron lattice fencing promotes natural air circulation and doubles as a privacy screen.

“I made a walkway connecting to the courtyard that has become  our sitting room.  Using my stock of lumber and wood recycled from the old house, I mixed teak with Makha wood (Afzelia xylocarpa), and gave it a fresh layer of paint.  It was a mix-match since the boards came in different sizes, but  nothing serious.  Now mom and her sister seem really pleased  that it’s a nice spot to sit and catch the cool breezes.”

“The question is: How can I go about it in coming up with design that’s open, bright and well ventilated? First, the land itself isn’t oriented in a direction that can avoid getting direct sunlight or minimize solar heat gain. Besides, it’s a modest home. There isn’t much room for the long roof overhangs needed to protect it from the elements. So I solve the problem by putting a courtyard at the center of the home plan to make the interior light, airy and very comfortable,” said the architect.

That said, Woranol chose box-shaped design featuring twin rectangular buildings that run parallel to each other with a courtyard in between. The little oasis that’s open to the sky contains a small garden with a wood deck made for sitting and catching some fresh air. It serves as engine that drives natural air circulation all day. This creates a comfortable atmosphere in the entrance hall. As for the A/C, who needs it anyway? The forward part of the house has a carport that’s separated from the street by wrought iron fencing. The black on the fence contrasts with the silver on aluminum latticework protecting the building. From the outside looking in, it’s clear that privacy protection is high on the list of priorities. It’s achievable without sacrificing the desire to live in close touch with nature.

A flight of garden steps leading to the house interior is canopied by overhanging trees thriving along the fence line. The corridor offers enough room to stroll around in the privacy of home.
A flight of garden steps leading to the house interior is canopied by overhanging trees thriving along the fence line. The corridor offers enough room to stroll around in the privacy of home.
The unroofed area between the buildings becomes a small courtyard garden. At the further end, the architect puts in a long seat for people to relax under the shade.
The unroofed area between the buildings becomes a small courtyard garden. At the further end, the architect puts in a long seat for people to relax under the shade.

Evergreen Korean banyan trees (Ficus annulata) lining the fence and the house exterior reduce the harshness of concrete construction and make the home appear more environmentally friendly. The house with 450 square meters of usable space boasts a bright and airy interior, thanks to open floor plans that emphasize interconnectedness throughout. Modern glass room dividers promote visibility and warm social interactions within the family. Steel construction saves time and makes the interior living space appear spacious and lightweight. In the end it’s all about feeling good and living better. “I made a walkway connecting to the courtyard that has become our sitting room. Using my stock of lumber and wood recycled from the old house, I mixed teak with Makha wood (Afzelia xylocarpa), and gave it a fresh layer of paint. It was a mix- match since the boards came in different sizes, but nothing serious. Now mom and her sister seem really pleased that it’s a nice spot to sit and catch the cool breezes.

An empty space between buildings looks stunning from the architectural perspective.
An empty space between buildings looks stunning from the architectural perspective.

“For security purposes, iron latticework is preferred over solid walls. To keep the sun out, the perforate shell is lined with trees. There is an Indian cork tree (Millingtonia hortensis) that has grown tall to shade the interior and give sweet smelling white flowers. We also put in a Common Tembusa tree (Fagraea fragrans) which grows slowly, and a Brazilian rose wood (Jacaranda obtusifolia) which is loved for its beautiful purple flowers. The courtyard floor is covered by a container garden intended to make cleaning easy after seasonal heavy rains. It’s OK to get wet sometimes, but it’s better than being enclosed by solid walls,” Woranol explained. His choice of furniture speaks to the minimalist style of interior design. The idea of less-is-more translates into an interior living space that’s open, easy on the eye, and conducive to natural ventilation. It’s easy to get why everyone likes to hang out together in the hallway downstairs that connects to the lush courtyard garden. The natural environment helps them feel relaxed all day every day.

While lattice screens go to work protecting the home from the outside world, large opening glass walls connect the interior room to a lush courtyard garden thrown in between buildings. Diffused light and winds passing through the permeable shell keep the entrance hall cool all day without the A/C. No wonder it’s the family’s favorite hangout.
While lattice screens go to work protecting the home from the outside world, large opening glass walls connect the interior room to a lush courtyard garden thrown in between buildings. Diffused light and winds passing through the permeable shell keep the entrance hall cool all day without the A/C. No wonder it’s the family’s favorite hangout.
Adjacent to the sofa set, the dining room is well lit and made comfortable by fresh air blowing in from the nearby courtyard garden.
Adjacent to the sofa set, the dining room is well lit and made comfortable by fresh air blowing in from the nearby courtyard garden.
The raised passageway around the courtyard is built of old wood worn by long exposure to the weather. Concrete steps provide easy access to the garden floor. It’s a place to sit with your legs hanging down, enjoy a patch of greenery, and shoot the breeze on a lazy afternoon.
The raised passageway around the courtyard is built of old wood worn by long exposure to the weather. Concrete steps provide easy access to the garden floor. It’s a place to sit with your legs hanging down, enjoy a patch of greenery, and shoot the breeze on a lazy afternoon.
An Indian cork tree (Millingtonia hortensis), the courtyard’s main attraction, develops a healthy crown near the studio and the bedroom on the upper floor.
An Indian cork tree (Millingtonia hortensis), the courtyard’s main attraction, develops a healthy crown near the studio and the bedroom on the upper floor.
While they allow natural light and fresh air to pass into the courtyard, metal lattice panels also double as privacy screens and safety precautions against intruders.
While they allow natural light and fresh air to pass into the courtyard, metal lattice panels also double as privacy screens and safety precautions against intruders.
The room upstairs can be used for work or pleasure. Open the door to see what happens below, and take in the view of the lush courtyard garden. Some fresh air really will do you good. After all, it’s about bringing nature into the home.
The room upstairs can be used for work or pleasure. Open the door to see what happens below, and take in the view of the lush courtyard garden. Some fresh air really will do you good. After all, it’s about bringing nature into the home.
Rustling leaves in the Indian cork tree make a sound that has a relaxing effect, especially for the home office and the bedroom located across the yard.
Rustling leaves in the Indian cork tree make a sound that has a relaxing effect, especially for the home office and the bedroom located across the yard.

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“The ground floor exists in open view, so everybody can  participate in the activity.  It consists of an ancestral hall,  living room, and dining space with large opening glass walls.    It offers the view of a central courtyard that’s made for family gatherings. There is visual continuity that allows   everybody to be in the sight of everybody else.”

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Punchat /// Photographs: Wison Tungthunya /// Design : Integrated Field Co., Ltd. /// Landscape : Na Laan Studio Co., Ltd. ///

It’s next to impossible to find peace and privacy in the midst of movement and activity of Bangkok’s busy Sathu Pradit neighborhood. But this house is one that defies the odds. The freedom of being observed or disturbed by other people is accomplished in ways that most would deem impossible. The difficult situation is solved, thanks to clever design and interior decoration by Integrated Field Co., Ltd. in collaboration with Na Laan Studio Co., Ltd. the landscape designer.

The homeowners wanted a place in which to spend their post retirement years. That was the homework assigned to the capable team of designers at Integrated Field. They were looking at creating a home that would be the heart and soul of the family. That was the main idea that went into building this house on an area just shy of 2 Rai (roughly three quarters of an acre). There was a problem.

Modern House
The sun shining through the skylight above the courtyard creates a natural play of shade and dancing light as time progresses. The trees and vegetation beneath the canopy need sunlight to thrive.
Modern House
A set of steps lead to the house interior and the courtyard garden enclosed by the building.

The land was in a densely populated area surrounded by high-rise buildings, especially in the north and west directions. The architects dealt with the difficult situation by creating a home plan that wrapped around a lush central courtyard designed for the benefit of family togetherness. The house is now complete.

The ground floor exists in open view, so everybody can participate in the activity. It consists of an ancestral hall, living room, and dining space with large opening glass walls. It offers the view of a central courtyard that’s made for family gatherings. There is visual continuity that allows everybody to be in the sight of everybody else. Only the service areas, such as the kitchen, bathrooms, and living quarters for housekeepers are separated from main hall design by a nontransparent wall.

Modern House
Silver oak trees (Grevillea robusta) come in handy to shade the house façade against the sun coming in the south direction.
Modern House
Striking the right balance between concrete and steel frames, the modern home leaves plenty of room for nature to participate.
Modern House
A flight of stairs leads to the bedrooms and personal offices on the upper floor. It’s designed to clearly separate public and private areas.
Modern House
An array of bi-fold doors opens to connect to the courtyard garden and other parts of the building. Bright and airy design allows natural light and wind to blow into the interior all day.

A Buddha room sits in the common area near a run of stairs leading to the upper floor that contains bedrooms for all family members. For the utmost convenience in modern living, each bedroom comes complete with a workstation, living area, a bathroom en suite. Apart from capacity for the interconnection among household members, the house’s most outstanding feature is contact with the natural environment that’s apparent in a lush inner courtyard.

The building is oriented to have the front façade stand facing south, a direction that isn’t likely to be observed or disturbed by other people. It stands to reap the full health benefits from southerly winds that keep the house cool naturally all day. In so doing, an array of bi-fold doors is installed, while transom windows are fitted with nets for ventilation. Meantime, a skylight that illuminates the interior also doubles as engine that drives natural air circulation.

On the side that’s exposed to intense sunlight, double concrete walls are installed, while the windows are fitted with insulated glass. Outside, the walls are canopied by overhanging trees that have become the house’s first layer of protection from the elements. What’s obvious here is that design isn’t about bricks and mortar alone. Rather, it has a lot to do with promoting the comforts and quality of life for people living in it.

As this house has shown, it pays to have a good grasp of the location and ability to overcome the challenge in the most effective way. By keeping the hustle and bustle of the city life outside, peace and tranquility at home is accomplished. Plus, it’s a lush courtyard in the design that adds up to a salubrious atmosphere in which to live.

Modern House
There is visual continuity from the interior to the courtyard garden, thanks to large opening glass windows.
Modern House
Spacious rooms with just a few pieces of chinoiserie furniture bespeak minimalism in interior design. Every room is bordered by large opening glass walls overlooking the lush courtyard garden. With few material possessions, the interior is plain and simple with nothing to clutter up the hallway.
Modern House
All the bedrooms are fitted with insulated glass to protect from solar heat gain and reduce noises from the outside.
Modern House
Equipped with everything necessary, the bedroom is a personal sanctuary that’s comfy, simple and clutter-free. It’s bordered by large opening glass walls designed to take in the view of the lush courtyard garden.
Modern House
Two walkways connect to the house. One starts from the carport. The other is a covered pathway designed for the elderly.
Surrounded by Warmth and Happiness

Surrounded by Warmth and Happiness

“The design is about disposing the home plan around a central  courtyard.  This way the problem of a lack of natural daylight  in the interior is solved.  It immediately freshens up the room  and makes it comfortable for everyone, especially older  members of the household.”

courtyard
A wood deck is designed to take in the view of the courtyard landscape. Like a must-have in any design, a healthy, lush lawn serves as the yard’s focal point. The grass lawn is uncluttered and easy to keep clean like those on the golf course. Underneath it, a drainage system is in place to carry off excess water, thereby preventing flooding in case of rains and getting rid of mosquito breeding grounds. From this angle, the rectangular-shaped inner courtyard can be seen enclosed by a walkway system that connects everything on the property.
courtyard
A set of stairs leads to the entrance of the building. Nearby, a ramp is put in place as part of a preparation for possible future events should a wheelchair be needed. Only a short distance away, an Indian cork tree (Millingtonia hortensis) thrives in a round container. It has since grown through the skylight that’s purposely built to brighten a nearby carport during daytime hours.

The Swiss chalet-style building had been a family home for more than thirty years. Eventually it was in need of repair and restoration. The Panikabutra family gave serious thought to renovating and returning their two-story wooden home to its original condition. All things considered and when a decision had to be made, the homeowners thought it wise to have it demolished to make room for a new home. Reclaimed wood from the old house was prepared for reuse in a new single-level building designed for mother, Khunying Pannang Panikabutra. Her daughter, Thapanant Suwittayalangkarn, shared the story behind it.

“Old wood taken from the house that Dad built a long time  ago was still in very good condition. It was considered so valuable.  Besides that, it was legal as timber prepared for use in building.  Dad always insisted on the legality of things. Generally, it was  beautiful reclaimed wood. There was some of it that had fallen into decay and new materials had to be purchased including old house  poles.” The new home plan is arranged around a central courtyard with a beautiful lawn as its main attraction. It’s a great way to frame a view since every room opens to the lush, refreshing garden landscape. This is especially true where the main hall and dining room connect to a wood deck with furniture, a perfect setting for relaxing outdoor living spaces. The design is about disposing the home plan around a central courtyard. This way the problem of a lack of natural daylight in the interior is solved. It immediately freshens up the room and makes it comfortable for everyone, especially older members of the household. Free from being observed by other people, the house’s five bedrooms have their place and private facilities around the courtyard garden. The building being raised on piles at least a meter from the street level is a decided plus. The rooms are clean and uncluttered thanks to the under-floor space being used for utility systems. Meantime, preparations are put in place to take good care of the elderly parent. Sharing her thought, Thapanant said:

“From our experience before Dad passed away, the old two- level home proved inconvenient since we were responsible for  taking care of people in poor health. The safety precaution already  in place wasn’t good enough. When we decided in favor of building a new house, my brother looked into every design detail. We put in a garden walkway around the courtyard with direct access to  Mom’s room. That was our idea of making space available for  mobility exercises. Everyone felt secure now that, to protect against  slips and falls, all the rooms were set at the same level including the bathroom floor. We also put in a ramp linking the house to the  carport to be ready should a wheelchair be required in future.”

The reception room boasts large opening glass doors overlooking the central courtyard. At the further end, two doors with matching transom windows add a light and airy feel to the atmosphere. In the middle of the room, despite its rather formal appearance, a vintage-style waiting room sofa in dark hues seamlessly fits into the décor.
The dining room and nearby sitting parlor get a good view of the inner courtyard, thanks to large opening doors that stand tall from floor to ceiling. Soft hues on the sofa upholstery creates a calm and serene atmosphere to make one feel more relaxed. It’s easy to get why this area has become the family’s favorite hangout.
The walkway around the courtyard is roofed over with translucent sheeting to shield it from sunlight and rains. The rafters and roof battens are made of reclaimed wood from the old house, while the posts are erected on cement foundations to protect against humidity damage. The passageway surface is covered in a mixture of small stones to prevent water splashing in case of rain.
An open space between walls offer room for a shady tree, while wood lattice fencing serves as engine that drives natural air circulation. Together,
they create a spectacular light and shadow play that’s constantly changing with time.

The bedroom offers a relaxed corner for leisure activity, such as drawing and playing music.
Mom and daughter relax together in a sitting area around the courtyard.
10 Modern Tropical Homes for Inspiration

10 Modern Tropical Homes for Inspiration

Living ASEAN presents 10 modern tropical homes for an inspiration as we celebrate another year ending and a new one beginning. They focus on a beautiful blend of indoor and outdoor spaces that translates into stylish patios, cool verandas and courtyard tropical gardens. Plus, plenty of ideas to make your yard lush!

 

PEACEFUL, SHADY NORTHEASTERN THAI HOUSE


MODERN HOUSE AMID A COUNTRY ATMOSPHERE


 

VIETNAM TRADITIONAL BRICK HOUSE


 

QUIET INTERACTION OF NATURE AND ARCHITECTURE


 

LOCAL THAI HOUSE IN A JAPANESE TRADITION


 

LOCAL, WITH A MODERN FLAVOR


 

A WHITE HOUSE MATCHING MODERN ARCHITECTURE TO ITS ENVIRONMENT


 

CANALSIDE “GARDEN HOUSE” FOR HAPPINESS


MODERN HOUSE WITH A THAI FLAVOR


SINGLE-STOREY HOUSE ON A FOUNDATION OF SIMPLICITY

 


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10 INSPIRING MODERN TROPICAL HOUSES

 

A STEEL FRAME WATERFRONT HOUSE THAT BLENDS MODERNITY WITH CONTEXT
Quiet Interaction of Nature and Architecture

Quiet Interaction of Nature and Architecture

Pok (Attaporn Kobkongsanti), his wife Romanee, and their young son Phumi have just moved into their new house, which took six years to design and build. Now it shows a perfect picture, lofty white walls rising above its inspired design and meticulous construction.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Korakot Lordkam /// Photography: Soopakorn, Nantiya

“As an architect myself, I imagined a courtyard here. Having worked with Boonlert, I felt our styles were really in sync, and after a few iterations we settled on our fourth design, which is what you see here!” Pok, who is the owner not only of the house, but also TROP Landscape Architects, is referring to Boonlert Hemvijitraphan of “Boon Design,” his co-designer.

Boonlert adds, “The relationship between the house and nature is always at the core of our design work. The owner’s imagination is what makes this one unique. We began with a set of high walls with the separate spaces between them assigned to different uses. We call this concept ‘series of wall.’”

To the architects, “series of wall” is expressed with four very tall walls set in parallel that establish the frame of this 3-storey house. The walls are set between 2.5 and 5 meters apart, protruding out beyond the main body of the house, with varied height and length according to functionality of the spaces between. Floor 1 holds living room, dining area, and kitchen. Husband and wife have a workroom on the 2nd floor, and bedrooms are on the 3rd.

Closing off areas between walls before assigning them functions as rooms gave the look of, as the architects put it, “putting people in the in-between spaces.” Areas of use are rectangular, enclosed lengthwise between the walls. The front and rear of the house are all floor-to-ceiling clear glass, for a free, airy feeling everywhere, the natural world outside shining through into the home. The walls are thick, blocking the sun’s heat from the north and south. The glass sides bring in the sun’s natural light as it moves from east to west, keeping the house bright and cheerful all day.

The walls also facilitate inner courtyards that are part and parcel of the livable space and bring the outside garden in, using the owner’s unique talents and experience to incorporate landscape architecture into the building itself.

“This wasn’t easy,” said Pok. “We wanted it all, here, there, everywhere, but when you do it you always worry it might be too much! We went back and forth, and in end we chose the most orderly form.” The personalities of the in-house gardens differ according to position. At the east entrance we see a mixture of kitchen vegetable and decorative garden they call the “moon garden,” since a moonrise is especially gorgeous from there. Special attention was paid to its beauty, as it is the first garden we see when getting out of the car and the last before leaving.

Next we encounter a triangular courtyard, inserted in the living room! This is an architectural artifice to bring light into a darker area. It opens the living room right out on the swimming pool and at the same time welcomes us into the room, creating an intriguing space facing both inward and outward.

In the kitchen there’s yet another large courtyard. This one helps draw light and clean air into the various rooms from the topmost down to the ground floor, and connects with a forest garden behind the house to the west. Between house and fence is a copse of trees that filters the afternoon sun, a space used just to relax, or perhaps for a party. The L-shaped swimming pool is landscaped in with a neat wooden porch that fits perfectly with the tall trees Pok has freely planted all about. This garden also connects to the living room through a large clear glass door, creating even more unity between indoors and outdoors.

The house glass reflects the darker forested area in a wavy green. Our landscape architect compares it to an abstract painting by nature itself, saying it took away any need for hanging pictures on the walls, which are bare, like a white canvas, waiting for nature as the single artist to brush it with light.

A White House Matching Modern Architecture to its Environment

A White House Matching Modern Architecture to its Environment

Secluded behind what appear to be walls of white paper, the “PA House” is IDIN Architects’ innovative integration of contemporary tropical architecture with a unique solution to its site-specific environment.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Korakot Lordkam /// Photography: Ketsiree Wongwan /// Design: IDIN Architects

Architect Jeravej Hongsakul, architect, explained that the first design challenge of this 400-square-meter house was its owner’s interest in privacy for his growing family:

“In our first site survey we noted the wide variety of sizes and styles of the surrounding homes, a 4-storey house here, a Louis-style there. How to fit a new house into this context and make it livable?”

Modern House

The architects observed, took pictures, noted directions, viewpoints, levels, and distances between houses, and analyzed the collected data to feed into their design plan, and came up with a concept that used these surroundings not as a limitation, but, surprisingly, as a help.

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“Each one of these other houses actually functions as an assistant architect, telling us where and at what levels to place the walls and planes that build connections on all sides, leading us to create open spaces within. I sometimes feel like the conductor of an orchestra, arranging voices and the mix to bring this home to life as a beautiful piece.”

The concept of a “viewpoint” may seem abstract, but the relationships formed by viewpoints to and from surrounding buildings has turned out to be a primary factor in the straightforward design of this home. Each wall was placed to help deal with problems that might arise from its geographic situation, and also adapt open space inside the walls to enhance utility and the livability of the house, as its “conductor” architect performed his work.

Modern House Modern House Modern House Modern House Modern House

Coming in on the south entrance road, we encounter two planes meeting in a tall, wide “L” appearing to float out from the second floor of the house. This construction benefits the house much as a raised hand can block sun from burning our face. The ground floor is cool and shady, but still has a great view of the wide, open garden directly outside, while the upper wall both blocks the view from other houses and insulates against heat. Along this section of the lower floor a wall also is set two meters out from the house to create space for growing plants, and glass walls reach up another 6 meters for a look out through the shade, where we watch the sunlight trace down the inner wall, creating new dimensions and an open, airy feeling.

Modern House Modern House

Comfort of use is the basis for the distribution of functionality within the house. On the ground floor a living room and dining area open out on a wide garden view, and one portion is set aside for a guest bedroom. On the second floor we find a master bedroom and one more room for a family member expected to come in the future. All this is coordinated with external design to support the family’s lifestyle in the most perfect way. As the architect adds,

“The primary design is all about controlling sunlight and creating balance between outside and the outer and  inner courtyards. The home is open and airy in every direction. The horizontal “wall” above looks almost like a hat on the house, and functions both to block harsh light from the sun and create a wide open view at eye level.

Modern House

“The concept is what we call ‘Passive Design’: design where the natural systems facilitate living. It also came out in a style both we and the owner are happy with. It’s a happy mix of many things.”

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