In Sync with the Rhythms of Nature

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.

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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.

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