Alexis Dornier is a German architect who nearly ten years ago moved to the village of Mas in Bali to build a vacation home. To properly house his furniture and art works gathered from all over the world, he combined modern building techniques with an ancient Javanese architectural style known as joglo. Based around four pillars supporting a tall roof, in olden times joglo architecture indicated the owner’s social status.
/// INDONESIA /// Story: Patsiri Chotpongsun // Photography: Sitthisak Namkham
“This house was primarily designed to showcase the ancient art of joglo wood construction. Functionality was figured in afterwards,” said Alexis. “A modern steel support framework in the middle of the house adds a new element to the architectural tone, providing added support and making the house unique, but the essential artistry of the joglo structure was unaffected and remains essentially unchanged.”
Joglo architecture lends its character to two prominent spots in the house while also supporting well defined modern functionality. The first is where the multipurpose room connects to the living room, showing off the joglo high ceiling. Next to that is a display spot for outstanding works of art, where a grand piano is set. Both spots are bordered by clear glass walls looking out on the incomparable verdant green of the surrounding jungle vegetation.
As it opens into the spacious, high-ceilinged dining room, the kitchen also shows off the joglo architecture. Above is a unique and exciting mezzanine walkway of clear glass where skylights allow natural light to shine in below. A person walking here gets a close-up look at details of artistic work carved into the joglo wood, perhaps experiencing something of the past joy archaeologists have felt in making new and priceless discoveries.
“Hidden beneath this spacious living room, connected to it by a three-dimensional walkway with views in all directions (a spiral staircase reaching down from the mezzanine) you will find two large bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, as well as another living room. On your journey up or down you’ll see beautiful art works and striking views inside and out.”
Before moving into this 3-storey Chaeng Watthana townhouse, Architect and university instructor Bhradon Kukiatnun really put his heart into the design and décor to bring about a conversation among people, animals, and things, partly intentional, part by impulse. Here are imperfections that are either blemishes or beauty marks, depending on our viewpoint.
Bhradon’s business is booming, but designing his own house raised a tremendous number of new questions, not the least of which was how the new living space would accommodate his eleven cats!
“Three years ago I bought this place new, and it took 2 years to fix up. First problem: organize storage space to hold the tremendous amount of personal stuff needed in my life while still keeping the house orderly. Then, I didn’t want a typical town house atmosphere, but neither should it be jarringly different. Part of the answer is this new façade, using a type of latticework found elsewhere in the project that fits my personal lifestyle.
“There’s more than meets the eye in that front view: a lot of the functions are hidden,” explained Bhradon, as most town houses add a roofed-over carport in front. “To really express myself I had to go back and look at fundamentals with flexibility and an open mind. The space in front is limited. Would I rather have a carport there, or a garden? OK, garden: so I designed a garden where I could park the car! Quite different from having a carport decorated with plants.”
The design called for no structural alterations, but space was apportioned differently. The ground floor holds the living room, dining area, and pantry; second floor, a small bedroom and a workroom; third floor, the master bedroom. “Inside you might mistake a door for a wall, or vice versa: my overall concept was to focus on highlighting specific points, making them fit in by hiding some elements. In the living room, the TV wall is highlighted by hiding its functionality in a wall; the use of covering elements gives the feeling of being in a cave.”
During our conversation Ando, Bhradon’s first adopted cat snuggled up as if to join the group. “I learned a lot from raising cats,” he said, “they don’t think like people. Sometimes our human knowledge drowns out our instincts. But a cat! It wants to sit, lie wherever, just does what it wants. This allows single things to have more than one function: TV cabinet or sitting place? Or, for us, a storage spot. Think outside the box.”
We urban-dwellers all long for nature. Bhradon answered this with a garden area in the rear of the house: “I think gardens nourish the psyche, so I put a little green in the house, along with a small guppy pond, and it’s a perfect spirit-refresher.
“I like the ‘wabi-sabi’ way of design; the beauty of imperfection, of real life. Real life involves rust; it involves injuries. Can’t eliminate these, right? Recently my cat Kuma died, and I miss her every day. But through the sorrow of loss we see the beauty of living. Being natural is to be incomplete, and we have to live with the things that happen.” As Bhradon’s speaking voice gradually softened, an unspoken conversation brought into focus the future of the house, the man, and the cats, and whatever might lie ahead for them.
This home is hemmed in by factories, but its clever design leaves one feeling unconfined, almost as if outdoors, with landscaping inserted right into the house interior and its sporty swimming pool. Mitigation of unpleasant outside sounds and scents is an even higher priority than the outward appearance of the house.
Advanced ideas and innovations from the West work best in Asian countries when adapted to localities and geographic conditions, so those innovations take on unique personalities of their own. Vernacular architecture usually speaks directly to comfort and realities of local ways of life. In a traditional Thai house, for instance, one central concept is to have an open interior space, often with a high-ceilinged open thai thun area below the house that blocks the sun and catches the seasonal breeze.
Speaking to architect Surat Pongsupan of Greenbox Design the owner of this house said, “I want comfortable living Thai-style, with an open tai thun and such good ventilation that air conditioning is hardly needed.”
The owner’s close connection to the factory business and his desire for a short commute resulted in this closed-in location, where the architect’s ingenuity resulted in a truly striking design.
To counter the closed-in feeling, the house has entryways on two sides, one the drive into the front from the factory buildings, the second a walkway across the canal in back. Just strolling through the house is pleasant: I designed a semi-open space where the landscaping actually reaches into the pool and the house itself. Bedrooms, closets, and service areas, generally not use in the middle of the day, are positioned to block the house common areas from the factory environment. This was a first priority, and the appearance of the house followed from that.
House orientation takes into consideration directions and force of sun and wind in the humid tropical climate. Walls to the west and south are opaque; There are two levels of roofing with a gap between facilitating heat insulation and ventilation. The four-sided, gable-free roof is lighter, slighter, and more open than usual, and skylights are used to bring morning light into bedrooms, a nod to the early-rise lifestyle of the owner.
“The general house plan puts the living room in front, with a high ceiling. I placed the living room next to the garden and pool, with a full sliding glass wall opening up a horizontal view and drawing fresh air in. Ceilings in kitchen and dining room are high and open, giving the feeling of the traditional tai thun, as these rooms are used for every meal and common family activities. These rooms also open out onto the garden and swimming pool.”
Upstairs, a clear glass wall offers a view all around the house. The corridor connecting bedrooms shades the pool below, making for comfortable midday swimming.
There is an overall impression of harmony. Primary colors are gray-white and a soft, warm natural wood color. Indoors gets a lot of sunlight, but trees give it a fresh green tint, especially the brush cherry tree planted the middle of the house.
The owner, Ms. Aim, said, “we like being contemporary, but also being Thai. The openness of kitchen and pool are great. The soft sound of running water is sweet. My husband likes to listen to songs, has speakers all over the house, making for a relaxing atmosphere. It’s good for the kids to become accustomed to living with nature, which is why we emphasize the value of these common areas so much .”
We call our home “Viva House,” with the hope that all living here will have long and happy lives.
Deep study of local architectural lore and analysis of locale-specific environmental and climatic conditions combined to create this house of fluid chic modern lines mixed into a look that clearly suggests the traditional Thai house.
/// THAILAND /// Story: Patsiri Chotpongsun, Sarayut Sreetip-ard // Photography: Soopakorn Srisakul // Style: Jeedwonder // Architect: NORMAL PRACTICE // Landscape Architect: Lana Studio
The owner wanted to provide his parents with a home where they could enjoy the ways of life of a new era. His first thought was to create a modern-style house with all customary functionality. Combining the good points of old and new, the result is a single-story resort-style house with a contemporary look and a relaxed atmosphere reinforced by a swimming pool.
With a usable area of 700 square meters, the house takes the shape of the letter “U,” filling a wide space the architect tightened up for the sake of intimacy: family members feel in closer touch with each other. The openness makes for good air circulation, yet acts as a divider between common areas of living and dining room and a more private side. The roof reminds us of a traditional gabled Thai house, but the gable is clearly steeper and higher.
“Thai gabled roofs come in many forms,” said the architect, “but if the gable faced any way but front it wouldn’t be pretty, since it would make roof look unbalanced. From the side the sharply-sloping “lean-to roof” offers a rectangle. The house faces south to catch the wind, but also gets sun there, so the gable has to provide shade, and the eaves extend further out. Especially at the end the roof rises even higher, providing more welcoming open space in front of the house, an eye-catching feature with a contemporary look that also provides needed functionality.”
The high gables not only help protect against southern exposure to sun, but also build a characteristic aesthetic of this home continuous with interior building design elements. The “U” shape leaves a space in the middle used as an open courtyard that holds the swimming pool and a gorgeous tree. Every point in the house looks out on it through the surrounding glass walls, connecting everyone with the courtyard and with each other.
From the exterior the architectural design flows inside into the interior in a play of shapes and lines. The interior ceiling opens up into the gable-shaped steel frame where the hardness of the steel is reduced with the use of wood, again reminding us that this is a Thai home. The furniture blends right in, shapes with a modern simplicity and a lot of wood in the mix adding to the sense of relaxation.
Brick is one of the oldest known building materials in the world. It’s been used for building purposes for thousands of years before Christianity. The fact that it’s made of clay has enabled brick buildings to make deep connections with the natural world in so many ways. More importantly, the structures built of small rectangular blocks derived from nature are endowed with the power of storytelling that provides a window on vernacular culture, the environment, and the way of life native to a locality. These qualities are manifested in outstanding works of architecture, the likes of which are obvious at this house in Da Nang, Vietnam that uses brick as the main building material.
/// VIETNAM /// Story: Patsiri Chotpongsun /// Photography: Oki Hiroyuki // Designers: Tropical Space by Tran Thi Ngu Ngon and Nguyen Hai Long
It all started with a family’s desire to renovate their home on a budget. A team of architects from the design firm Tropical Space soon came up with an idea inspired by termite mounds. They knew that the small soft-bodied insects built their homes by cementing masses of earth with saliva. Amazingly, they are quite capable of withstanding hot and humid climates for long stretches of time. For this reason, the architects designed the house walls to be built of bricks placed on top of each other with a break between blocks to create little ventilation holes that allow in light and drive natural air circulation. Designed for tropical living, the 140-square-meter box-shaped building wrapped in a perforate shell is going by the name “Termitary House”.
To protect from heat, the team of architects put in perfectly opaque walls on the sides exposed to intense sunlight. Meantime, the sides with less exposure to bright light had small openings built into the walls to promote air circulation, resulting in thermal comfort in the interior living spaces year round. The same applied to the house façade that’s its most outstanding feature. The vertical flat structure was made of bricks fired the old-fashion way and laid with air holes at intervals all the way across. The result is a breathing wall that allows in just enough light and a fresh supply of air. The light and spacious atmosphere lends a modern air to the home designed to be free from dust in summer and safe from inclement weather during the monsoon season. More importantly, it’s about privacy that comes with unique design.
It’s a house plan that prioritizes thermal comfort as well as functions. The staircase, storage room and bath are strategically placed on the east and west sides. During daytime hours they double as a layer of insulation to keep sunlight heat out. The hall at the center is spacious and well-lit, thanks to the skylight positioned directly above it. The area offers plenty of space for a sitting parlor, pantry and dining area as well as easy access to the bedroom, bathroom and small reading room on the mezzanine. Open concept design paired with perforated room dividers contributes to visual continuity that enables family to stay connected, happy and warm even on a busy day.
Breathing walls offer several advantages. By design, countless small holes in them let a moderate amount of light shine through, increase air circulation, and reduce interior temperatures to a comfortable level. Upfront, the vertical brick structure provides an awesome privacy screen that’s energy efficient and allows people inside to see out. Made from inexpensive local materials, it comes alive when good sunshine creates movement and a shadow play on the surface. And the show goes on day and night, thanks to the form, color and texture that give the brick wall its character.
The house walls are built of bricks placed on top of each other with a break between blocks to create countless small holes that allow light and air to enter and circulate freely. The resulting perforate shell contributes to physical ease and well-being in the tropical style home.
This story is from Modern Vernacular Homes Special Issue: Happiness Matters. (Available here in Thai and English)
Their retirement home epitomizes the “new life” many dream of. One such is Lisa Thomas, former manager of a famous hotel chain in Thailand who retired and moved with her mother to Ratchaburi.
“It was love at first sight. Our first arrival in Ratchaburi was, like this, in the rice growing season. I love the inexplicable green of rice paddies: somehow it always brings me a peaceful feeling.”
Lisa’s first impressions resulted in her choice of Ratchaburi Province as the site of this family home, but there were other reasons: convenience of being only two hours from Bangkok, good public utilities, and, importantly “the green horizon, without the view of skyscrapers from our old condo.”
Helping to bring Lisa’s dreams to reality were Research Studio Panin architects Assistant Professor Dr. Tonkao Panin and Tanakarn Mokkhasmita. Their design began with their listening intently and paying attention.
“We’re satisfied if we can manage to translate the everyday morning-to-evening life of a homeowner into each angle and corner of our house plan. Houses spring up gradually, resulting from our conversations with the owner. Solutions come from knowing how to step back and fully understand what we are listening to.”
This design answered fundamental home needs including functionality of use, features gradually added to support the owner’s natural habits, and principles of comfortable living such as “cross ventilation,” which allows air to move freely through the building.
A half-outdoor deck set in the middle of the house greets entering visitors, also capturing breezes from all directions as they transit from outside to inside. More than simply a stop on the way in, it’s a comfortable space for the owners to relax.
The building is laid out to follow the contour of the property, along a natural irrigation canal. To echo this locational context, a swimming pool is set parallel to the canal. The house faces west, but the problem of day-long heat is addressed with a basic structure of steel-reinforced concrete and an extended deck that widens to match the reach of the sun. Eaves and verandah have a steel framework that nicely frames the surrounding scenery.
“Without Lisa’s daily life here, the house would have no meaning. It awoke different levels in this space both from the perspective of form and in the actual space itself.” The location is in harmony with the nature of her life. In the everyday living areas – kitchen, dining room, living room – a high ceiling is called for. Louvers are set in narrow dividing panels between doors and windows for good ventilation throughout the day, bringing air into the central entrance hall and on into Lisa and her mother’s bedrooms in back, upstairs and downstairs.
“Time is the important thing now,” added Lisa. “I just want to use my time in the right way, doing what makes me happy, and part of that is returning to live with my mother, bringing back the feeling of life as a kid. The house is a safe space, recalling things that are engraved in my heart forever.” And it also memorializes the friendship felt by architects for the homeowner in a house that has created lasting happiness.
Shipping containers are easy to build and build onto. The owner of this home located in the Canggu area on the Indonesian island of Bali began trying out this concept with the intention of building a temporary home and ended with a permanent family residence.
Studio Tana’s designer architect Andika Japa Wibisana says the homeowner wanted to build a house and small office here, but the owner of the land wouldn’t sell, so he decided to build a container house in case he would have to move and build elsewhere. The designer envisioned possibilities, and came up with a house that answered the needs of all family members.
The design places smaller boxes inside a large box, the larger one a steel and glass frame, enabling creation of double walls that reduce sunlight and outside heat. The interior is composed of eighteen shipping containers, some opened up for a spacious, L-shaped central living area with a high ceiling.
“A lot of family members from Jakarta sometimes come to visit, so the living room opens out to connect with the garden, where some vegetable plots are set aside for children’s use,” said Andika.
The property is lower than the road in front, making the house about a half-storey lower than street level, with the garden behind gradually sloping further down. Looking up from the garden, the house appears to be set on a hill of fresh green grass. This beautiful atmosphere is enhanced by the gurgling of a nearby small stream.
The building’s left section holds an office and stairway, with that spacious open-plan living room to the right and service areas behind. Above, the shipping container near the garden projects outward for a better view of the green space: here is the master bedroom. Another section divides containers into kitchen and dining room. Interior décor here loses the industrial look: ceiling and walls are surfaced white, with real wood taking away the rawness of the steel.
Plants grow by the glass wall as protection against heat. On the other wing the second floor holds two more bedrooms, one container used for one room. The entire second storey has a sharply sloping steel roof that forms an eave. Beneath is a balcony with a long walkway connecting to the building’s outer porch, all of exmet (expanded metal grating) for an attractive play of light and shadow below.
Even though some steel houses have a harsh look, this one is designed in response to a tropical lifestyle, with industrial materials combined in a way that gives an oriental look to this big 18-container home, creating convenience and comfort and meshing perfectly with the beautiful garden.
From time to time, it’s good to leave a hectic lifestyle behind. Escape to the countryside and enjoy life in the slow lane. Priceless! There’s nothing like staying close to nature and being surrounded by mountains and lush paddy fields. Do something you’ve never done before. You can be a part of a local community by getting involved in farm activities.
Collect freshly laid eggs from the chicken coop, pick mushrooms from the nursery, and get vegetables straight from the garden. Even cook your own meals using seasonal ingredients from the community. Or treat yourself to a chicken coop sauna amidst rice fields, a spa idea you never imagine. There are plenty of reasons a farmstay is the perfect experience as you learn to live in a natural environment. Ahsa Farmstay is offering tourists a chance to stay overnight on a working farm. It’s a place to be happy and have fun as you interact with people in the community and learn about their heritage and culture of farming.
From Mueang Chiang Rai, head north towards Doi Mae Salong. About half way there, you come into Mae Chan District. Ahsa Farmstay is located on 85 Rai (33.6 acres) of land surrounded by views of the rolling terrain, fertile grounds and lush plains. The luxuriant vegetation encompassing the farm house makes the atmosphere calm and relaxing. The property owners have spared no effort in making sure visitors are happy physically and mentally as they gain an understanding of local culture and the beauty of traditional Lanna architecture.
Ahsa Farmstay is the work of Creative Crews, an architectural design firm passionate about traditional Lanna architecture. By looking at the northern heritage from a different perspective, they are able to create a home that’s modern in style and functions. This is achieved by reducing design detail and embracing the traditional principles of form and layout. The result is a home that combines privacy, comfort and convenience. Ahsa Farmstay consists of four buildings. The property owners’ home sits at the center of the rectangular floor plan flanked by two-story buildings that provide guest accommodations on the left and right wings. There are four guest rooms in all. A pavilion that’s up front by the entrance provides a place to unwind and relax, and room for activities.
Khun Im, who oversees Ahsa Farmstay, says the design concept is inspired by a desire to be a part of the local community. This is the first phase of an on-going experiment. The farm owners are a family that reside in this community. By living on the property, they are on hand to take care of their guests at all times. Determined to preserve their way of life, they prefer not to travel some distance to work in the city. And that’s what gives rise to the farmstay project.
“We have good relationships with the community and hire local carpenters to build. They are rare these days, but we find some in the neighborhood. For quality assurance, they work under our supervision. The project is built almost entirely of wood recycled from old houses. Our architects take the time to do it right. They go through each and every piece and handpick only the ones that meet specified construction standards,” he said.
An architect on the team added, “Reclaimed wood is the main building material because it can be sourced directly from the community. It comes in handy since some villagers are willing to sell it as reusable material. In the end, it’s about finding new use for old wood and adapting it to serve new purposes. Once the villagers see that we can do it well, they adopt the idea and technique to better suit their construction needs. In the end, it adds up to the continuation of cultural heritage and preservation of traditional Lanna architecture by passing on the skill and knowledge to young people in the community.”
Besides old wood, the team is able to put other recyclable materials to good use. They include concrete roof shingles that are rare nowadays. They are made the old-fashioned way using the pedal powered pottery wheel. Also known as the kick wheel, it’s an ancient manufacturing technique that has been passed on in the local community. To prevent leaks, the roof is covered by two layers of shingles. The weathered concrete look is beautiful. That’s not all. Ahsa Farmstay is also decorated with items of handicraft and furniture sourced directly from the community.
All things considered, the atmosphere is warm and inviting. It gives other families in the neighborhood some idea of how they can offer a form of hospitality and lodging where guests can stay overnight at the home of locals and learn about their culture. It’s an opportunity to play host, cook food and share their lifestyle and culture. Like so, Ahsa Farmstay is planning on providing more guest rooms as demand for cultural tourism increases. And it works both ways. New lodgings will be built by local carpenters, which in turn generates supplemental incomes for the local community. In the big picture, it amounts to promoting a kind of tourism intended to support the conservation of cultural heritage, skill and knowledge in the community.
The designer wraps it up nicely. “It’s important that visitors refrain from causing changes in the community’s way of life. More than anything else, the farmstay provides the opportunity of learning something new about rural culture. Visitors are welcome to join in daily activities of locals. Architecture has a role to play for the betterment of society. The homes built by locals not only promote cultural tourism, but also contribute to efforts at sustainable development in the area.”
By looking at old Lanna architecture from a new perspective, a design team is able to create a home that’s up to date in style and functions. This is achieved by reducing design detail and embracing the traditional principles of form and layout. The result is a home that combines privacy, comfort and convenience.
This story is from Modern Vernacular Homes Special Issue: Happiness Matters. (Available here in Thai and English)
This house, with its hidden Western flavor, calls out for us to relax and drink in its peaceful atmosphere. Its owner, singer and MC Boy (Pisanu Nimsakul), had it designed as an escape from urban confusion: the green of plants, brown pebbled walkways, and a connection between his and his mother’s sections of the house allowing for both familiarity and privacy.
Boy’s house is on a thousand square meters in the Soi Yothin Pattana area, not far his old neighborhood. For the design he took the advice of his friend Sena Ling (Somkiat Chanpram) and hired Neung (Phanuphol Sildanchang) of PAA, whose work really impressed him.
“Meeting Neung, at first he just asked if I thought I could live with his style (laughs) . . . but of course, that’s exactly what I came for, didn’t even need to spend much time on the details.”
Neung added, “If the customer understands and trusts our best design work, it makes it easy.”
Boy wanted to be able to live with his mother and still have privacy for socializing with friends, so the house stretches wide, lengthwise along the property as it faces south toward the road. Mother and son’s sections have separate entries from a long walkway in the center of the property that essentially divides it into two courtyards, one a green area shared by Boy and his mother, and the other featuring a swimming pool that parallels a long porch accessible only from Boy’s section. This includes a gravel path running in from the carport along the rim of the garden fence so friends can come in without disturbing his mom.
Neung says “I wanted to have every room in the house able to open window and look out as if on a private courtyard, kind of exciting! So without a lot of artifice or excess playing around with materials I’ve created the sense that there are a lot of courtyards, as people enter at different levels.”
The central walkway has latticework screening between the two courtyard sections which keeps the buildings from appearing too separate, at the same time allowing for good air circulation on both sides. Trees are planted along the side to block the view from any neighboring houses that might be built in the future. In back he house abuts against a 3-storey townhouse in back with a wooden fence that blocks the view, covered with climbing plants such as cat’s claw vine.
To give the house a relaxing warmth, natural wood is used as much as possible. The weight-bearing steel frame is mostly hidden: some of the support pillars are completely natural wood. For the residential sections the roof is gabled, with long eaves to quickly drain water and heat, while in certain sections there is a modern-style flat roof. Various Western formats, proportions, and components have been inserted in a simple, unpretentious style. Interior décor includes movable furniture and light-colored cloth drapes for a gentle look that Boy’s sweetheart brought in.
“It came out just as designed! Coming into the house it feels relaxed, like being in a resort. It’s a pleasure just to look out the window. At the same time, it feels like I’ve come home,” added Boy, obviously a happy man.
Six years before this October’s rice planting season Koi (Naiduangta Pathumsut) and Rung (Rungroj Kraibut) began building this house with a meager savings of three hundred thousand baht. That didn’t produce the home we see today, but was enough for the concrete structure and roof. Before long their enthusiasm and energy produced this house, the pride of the local countryside.
“Ton Tarn” (“Stream Trees”) is the name of the single-storey house Koi’s parents first built back when the trees were seedlings. They bequeathed it to her and Rung, who built this new house connecting to the original.
Koi was born here in Suphan Buri, but moved when in kindergarten. Eventually completing Thai Language Studies at the Faculty of Education in Chiang Mai, she worked in Bangkok before returning to Suphan to help her father with his work in overcoming child illiteracy. Uthai Thani native Rung studied environmental geography and has worked for the Seub Nakhasathien and Sarnsaeng-arun Foundations to promote learning about living with nature. After the great flood of 2011 the couple built this two-story home – connecting to the original single-storey house – to escape future flooding.
“If we’d waited to get all the money, we’d have never been ready, we wouldn’t have started or done it,” said Rung.
With the steady help of local craftsmen the basic structure was built in two years, but by then the money had run out and the work had to depend on just the two hands of “Craftsman Rung” for the wood walls, doors, windows, and some furniture.
“I figured on using nimtree and Burmese rosewood trees on our property, and we still had old wood, doors, and windows set aside. After another two years the exterior looked finished, but there was still a lot of work to do.”
The 9-acre property includes the parents’ house, the main house, and a rice granary. There’s a natural well with a planted bamboo border. Umbrella bamboo is grown for its edible shoots, and giant thorny bamboo for fencing. The bamboo orchard is in one area, rice paddies in another, and big, harvestable trees remain from the time of Rung’s grandfather.
“November to March is the perfect season for growing leafy vegetables we use ourselves, but we switch crops sometimes. Vine veggies like string beans, loofah, and squash are perennials, a natural way to prevent disease and insects that often spread when growing just a single crop.”
“The image of our house in the middle of the fields looks great. We can’t do anything about how farming in the area has changed: use of chemicals, burning sugarcane fields. We can only adapt to it and build on our own natural world. Our joy is in the pride of doing things with our own hands. There’s nothing perfect in nature: it’s all a learning experience, like life as a married couple, gradually adapting. Where we can’t adapt, we create understanding so we can live together.”