/ Uthai Thani, Thailand /
/ Story: Wuthikorn Sut / English version: Bob Pitakwong /
/ Photographs: Damrong Leeviroj, Xaroj Phrawong /
“Saving every tree on the property” is the motto from this resort owner. Studio Miti designed these tropical houses that blend in with the forest, as architecture that fuses modern and traditional Thai tropical living styles.
At a glance, the houses conjure up images of little houses in the big woods. Four beautiful and tranquil tropical houses are nestled in a surrounding forestland of northwestern Uthai Thani.
This house-becomes-hotel is the brainchild of the owner, Chantita and Paisan Kusonwatthan. They started re-growing and restoring the area some thirty years ago. Later when development began in earnest in 1996, the area was meant to be their retirement home.
Through hard work and dedication, the property grew to become a lush woodland full of vitality. It gave rise to the idea of opening it to the public.
Now the post-retirement project becomes a resort, appropriately named “Bansuan Chantita.” Bansuan is Thai for garden home.
The architect of the project, Prakij Kanha of Studio Miti, explains:
“First and foremost, we set out to save every tree on the property. It is our duty and responsibility to find common ground between nature and architecture.”
In the design process, the architect took great pains to measure every space among the trees. The average area was then used as the basis for designing homes on the property.
Only after that did the design team begin work on the design concept. The project took the form of a “plus” symbol as its layout.
“The plus symbol plans fit in well amongst the trees. The result was perfect harmony between architecture and the existing natural environment. The design scheme was about putting together five rooms, all of which are easily accessible from the central court,” explained Prakij.
“The four homes come complete with wood decks, seating spaces, bedrooms, and bathrooms. The house-on-stilts design keeps them elevated from the forest floor.
“Each home is set at a different level to promote good air circulation through the hotel property. It is the different level design that creates an enchanting aesthetic.”
The design scheme calls for the four tropical houses to be conveniently linked by a system of wood passageways winding through the lush botanical garden setting. From the outside in, the resort looks and feels like it is an inextricable part of the forest in the backdrop.
By emulating the Thai-style design, the architect ensures that no space goes to waste. Small vegetation thrives on the forest floor below. Crisp, cool breezes are ever present, and nature permeates everywhere.
The house’s exterior walls and outdoor decks are made of recycled wood. The preference was based on two reasons.
First, it was a smart move because the price was right. Second, it creates a warm and enchanting atmosphere in the midst of nature.
Recycled wood still shows signs of use, while painted surfaces in a variety of colors serve as camouflage clothing that blends in with the surroundings.
Somehow it is the roofing made of steel sheets that often go unnoticed. Asked why he chose steel over other roofing materials, the architect said:
“If boats made of steel can float on water, likewise roofs crafted of steel can effectively keep the weather out.
“Steel construction is expedient especially where roofing is composed of multiple parts. Such is the case here.”
What makes these tropical houses stand out is the understanding of nature and the knowledge to incorporate it into the design scheme. The garden paradise is an escape into nature.
Owner: Chantita and Paisan Kusonwatthan.
Architect: Prakij Kanha of Studio Miti (www.studiomiti.com)