Blog : Architecture

Country Villa Breathes in the Energy of Nature

Country Villa Breathes in the Energy of Nature


An intimate country hideaway affords a view of sugarcane fields and the lush forests of Khaoyai National Park. It sits ensconced in the misty morning mountain landscape that “Pod” Thanachai Ujjin, lead singer/song writer of the Moderndog band, calls home. His favorite hangout is a platform on the outside of the house, where he likes to sit under moonlight at 2 in the morning. Precisely, nature is on his doorstep.

Characteristic of modern tropical architecture, the house is spacious, light and breezy. The homeowner likens it to the calm and peaceful Thai temple pavilion. The brainchild of Nattapak Phatanapromchai of Erix Design Concepts, the minimalist home is aptly named “Villa Sati”, literally “House of Consciousness”, to communicate the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings.

Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa

Touched by moonlight and the starry sky, it has a roofed platform along the outside of the house that’s perfect for walking meditation, which the artist and his Mom often do together as family. Sharing his little piece of paradise, Pod said: “After moving out here, I feel as if there were more hours in the day. I rise early to go jogging, read, listen to music, and write songs.”

Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa

Their country retreat is made for a simple and peaceful life. Here, the artist and his Mom have plenty of time for their favorite pastimes – art making. The house plan is well thought out. Gable roof design proves a perfect complement to the platforms along the outside, while gorgeous open floorplans increase natural light and bring the outdoors into the home.

Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country VillaPod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa

Come in through the front door, and you find the stand-alone Butterfly Stool, a 1954 icon of Japanese industrial design by Sori Yanagi. The bedroom that looks out over the field is on the right. Straight ahead is the kitchenette that connects to a living area that doubles as multipurpose room. Nearby, a set of stairs with dark clapboard siding leads to the attic that the artist has turned into a bedroom. The farthest end of the house is open to let southeasterly winds enter, a great way to ventilate the entire home. From here, the rolling sugarcane fields and mountains beyond can be seen in full view.

Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country VillaPod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa

Floating furniture is an easy hack to establish zones in open spaces and create traffic flow in the room. Modular storage cabinets from USM have the most prominent position alongside wall-mounted abstract art by Tae Pavit and a few painted pictures by Pod’s Mom.

Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country VillaPod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa

Commenting on design details, architect Nattapak Phatanapromchai said the platforms along the outside of the house afford beautiful panoramic views of the lush mountain landscape. Large openings in the walls allow fresh air to enter, creating air flow and bringing down ambient temperature to the point there’s no need for air conditioning.

Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country VillaPod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa

Meantime, the gable roof with long overhangs protects the platforms along the outside from the elements. The architect did away with the fascia, wooden boards covering the ends of rafters, to highlight the framework supporting the roof as was the case with the Thai style of residential architecture. Roof shingles are reminiscent of ancient tiles made beautiful by special paint for a real custom effect, while cement board deck or sheathing is installed underneath to protect against leaks.  

Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country VillaPod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa

House framing for the most part consists of wood, while framed glass wall systems stand tall from the threshold to the tie beam supporting the roof. The secret to a neat and tidy house plan lies in the side posts of every doorway and glass wall frame aligning with gable-end studs both when the door is open and shut. The result is a beautiful country house with clean design in the midst of scenic surroundings.

Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country VillaPod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa

The house superstructure is built of Ta-khian timber, scientific name: Hopea odorata, a species of large trees native to Southeast Asia. Elevated 1.80 meters above ground level, the floorboard rests on steel reinforced concrete framing that’s a load-bearing foundation. The stilt house design that’s ubiquitous in tropical climates provides ventilation under the floor, a brilliant way to keep the home cool all year round. By and large, it’s a perfect example of traditional Thai house design, one that’s easy to look at and comfortable to live in.

Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa

The homeowner wrapped it up nicely. “I like the relative smallness of the house and surrounding open spaces. They’ve had a significant impact on human minds. For me, it gives vitality and enthusiasm. It fills my life with laughter and inspires exciting new ideas. It just so happens. Once I have an idea that I think has real potential, the rest is easy. Lyrics for a number of songs were written right here in this humble abode. The wide open spaces of the countryside are hugely rewarding for me as an artist.”

Story: Samutcha Viraporn
Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul

10 ASEAN Projects Win A+ Awards in Architecture

10 ASEAN Projects Win A+ Awards in Architecture

Our warmest congratulations to architects from the ASEAN on winning ten A+ Awards in architecture for 2019. Their outstanding works include six projects from Thailand, plus one each from Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia.


Story: Samutcha Viraporn / Photo: Architizer

Hosted by the online architecture community, the A+ Awards come in two categories; “Jury Winners” which are handpicked by reputable judges, and “Popular Choice Winners” judged by public votes. The ten A+ Award winners from the ASEAN are:


Commercial / Office – Low Rise (1-4 Floors)

IDIN Architects Office / Designed by IDIN Architects, Thailand

Popular Choice Winner

The home of IDIN Architects Co, Ltd is arranged in three parts; the office, the business owner’s residential unit, and a café open to the public. It’s a layout that strikes the right balance between privacy and the busy movement in Bangkok’s Ratchadapisek neighborhood. The low-rise building sits peacefully ensconced in a lush oasis. Its blackened exterior is covered in Japanese Yakisugi, cypress plank cladding traditionally charred to enhance a natural appeal. The café on the ground floor boasts a touch of Modernism that’s evident in a beautiful mix of steel, glass and concrete component parts.


Commercial / Showrooms

Organicare Showroom / Designed by Tropical Space, Vietnam

Popular Choice Winner

Tropical Space is an architectural firm expert in old-fashioned brick construction. Their project involved converting a 1975 brick building into a modern showroom for fish sauces and homegrown brands of organic products. Steel frames and bricks are the main materials used to improve interior and exterior design, as well as create shelving to suit every display need.


Concepts / Plus-Architecture + For Good

Heartware Network / Designed by DP Architects, Singapore

Popular Choice Winner

Promoting team spirits among youth organization volunteers, the design by DP Architects creates a platform of cooperation and change in behavior conducive to a positive environment that lies at the core of the Heartware Network. Its engagement ideas have enabled the charitable youth organization to connect with more than 1,500 young people per year.


Concepts / Plus-Architecture + Living Small

3500-Millimeter House / Designed by AGo Architects, Indonesia

Popular Choice Winner

A building 3.5 meters wide and 17 meters long is home to an architect, his wife and a son. The house walls, staircase and built-in furniture share the rigid supporting structures that enclose them. The façade that stands facing West is built of perforated metal sheets and polycarbonates to protect from the summer sun. Clever design ensures the interior living space is well lit and airy.


Concepts / Plus-Architecture + Renovation

Kloem Hostel / Designed by IF (Integrated Field), Thailand

Jury Winner

Kloem Hostel is built by combining three adjacent old houses into a single entity. The two Thai houses at either end are beautifully renovated. The building at the center transforms into a loft that serves as common area and relaxed hangout reminiscent of the Thai lifestyle in former times.


Details / Plus-Architecture + Facades

Little Shelter Hotel / Designed by Department of Architecture, Thailand

Popular Choice Winner

A small hotel in Chiang Mai boasts a façade that’s reminiscent of fine crafts. The calm and beautiful face gets its inspiration from wooden roof tiles that are symbolic of Northern architecture in olden days. A reinterpretation of handicrafts in a modern context, the intricate design of wood and polycarbonates adds a unique charm to the principal front overlooking a street.


Hospitality / Hotels & Resorts

Bunjob House: House of Flow / Designed by NPDA Studio, Thailand

Jury Winner

The Bunjob House is a vacation destination nestled in a family-owned coconut grove on beautiful Pha-ngan Island in the Gulf of Thailand. Its façade consists of curved concrete slabs that draw cool breezes from the ocean resulting in thermal comfort in the interior living spaces. The slabs also protect the building during a thunderstorm. Casings made of coconut trees leave their marks on the concrete texture that blends into the natural surroundings.


Residential / Apartments

Hachi Serviced Apartment / Designed by Octane Architect & Design, Thailand

Popular Choice Winner

The project’s most outstanding feature is the façade that’s designed to promote a healthy home life despite being in an apartment complex. The exterior architecture of the building reflects well on the type of design, balance and symmetry of the interior space.


Residential / Private House (XL >5000 sq ft)

Cloister House / Designed by Formwerkz Architects, Malaysia

Jury Winner

The design gets its inspiration from the courtyard house typical of long established Chinese architecture. Adapted to blend with modern tropical style, the layout consists of a framework of nine regularly spaced rooms partially open to connect with the outdoors. The building in Johor state, southern Malaysia occupies 45,000 square feet.


Residential / Interiors

Y/A/O Residence / Designed by Octane Architect & Design, Thailand

Popular Choice Winner

Increased natural light provides the perfect focal point in the interior reminiscent of the house with a courtyard. It’s a great way to let light create depth in the interior space. The project consists of three separate buildings; a two-level house, guest accommodation building, and car garage.


For a complete list of winners of the 2019 Architizer A+ Awards, please visit:

ASEAN Designers Shine at World Architecture Festival 2017

ASEAN Designers Shine at World Architecture Festival 2017

Your attention, please! The results are in. Designers from around the ASEAN have done it again at this year’s World Architecture Festival in Berlin.

/// ASEAN ///

Photo: World Architcture Festival

Every year, architects and interior designers from across the globe converge upon the German capital to participate in the World Architecture Festival. This year’s event took place from 15-17 November, during which both major prizes and highly-commended mentions were awarded to successful designers in many categories from architecture, to interior design, to landscaping and small projects.

World Building of the Year Winner 2017: The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Post-Earthquake Reconstruction Project in Guangming Village, China

Among this year’s winners, a design group from the Philippines took first prize in the Small Project of the Year, while groups from Thailand and Vietnam were successful in several categories.

The Philippine group, Streetlight Taguro by Eriksson Furunes, Leandro V. Loscin Partners, and Jago Boase, won first prize for work in the Civic and Community category taking home the Small Project of the Year honor.

Vietnam’s Vo Trong Nghia Architects won first prize in the House, Office, and Education category, while the Hypothesis group of Thailand took two awards in the Mixed Use and Leisure-Led Development, and the Hotel Interior categories.

House – Completed Building Winner: Vo Trong Nghia Architects, Binh House, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Small Project of the Year Winner 2017 and Civic & Community Winner: Eriksson Furnes + Leandro V.Loscin Partners + Jago Boase, Streetlight Taguro, Tacloban, The Philppines

An Indonesian group, known as Produce.Workshop, took home one award in the Interior Display category, while Singapore triumphed with the biggest prize for 2017 taking home the INSIDE World Interior of the Year award.

From outside the ASEAN region, the Chinese University of Hong Kong took the biggest prize for the World Building of the Year category in recognition of its post-earthquake reconstruction project at Guangming Village, China.

Other winners from around the ASEAN are listed below.

Small Project of the Year Winner 2017 and Civic & Community Winner: Eriksson Furnes + Leandro V.Loscin Partners + Jago Boase, Streetlight Taguro, Tacloban, The Philppines


House – Completed Building Winner: Vo Trong Nghia Architects, Binh House, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


Office – Future Projects Winner: Vo Trong Nghia Architects, Viettel Offside Studio, Hanoi, Vietnam


Health – Future Projects Winner: Magi Design Studio, Desa Semesta, Bagor, Indonesia


Leisure-Led Development – Future Projects Highly Commended: Hypothesis, Krahm Restaurant, Chiang Rai, Thailand


Education – Future Projects Highly Commended: Vo Trong Nghia Architects, Viettel Academy Education Centre, Hanoi, Vietnam


Hotel & Leisure – Completed Building Winner: Cong Sinh Architects, Vegetable Trellis, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


Mixed Use – Completed Building Highly Commended: Stu/D/O Architects, Naiipa Art Complex, Bangkok, Thailand


INSIDE World Interior of the Year Winner 2017 and Display Winner: Produce.Workshop, Fabricwood, Singapore


INSIDE Hotel Winner: Hypothesis, Ir-On Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand


INSIDE Display Highly commended: AK+, Loco Local for Hermes 2016: Spring/Summer Forever, Singapore


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A New Boutique Hotel in Singapore’s Historic Chinatown

A New Boutique Hotel in Singapore’s Historic Chinatown

Embracing warmth, comfort, and privacy, a new boutique hotel takes up a row of six former shophouses in Singapore’s historic Chinatown. The beautifully renovated Hotel Mono retains the charm of Southeast Asian styled architecture, while highlighting the distinctive personality of Rococo-era ornamentation.

/// Singapore ///
Story: Weena Baramee /// Photography: Hotel Mono

An expression of art and the interior inside the Lobby at Hotel Mono

Its Rococo aesthetic is apparent in the lightness of interior design, cozy spaces, and the tall and narrow windows that speak to the French stylistic period. The gentle black and white theme on the exterior seamlessly interweaves with the lifestyles of traditional Singapore and the city’s urban bustle. 

Loft style décor that is a component in interior design
Single Room
Relaxation in a Rococo styled studio

A striking new landmark on historic Mosque Street, the 46-room Hotel Mono is an independent hotel catering to the needs of design-conscious travelers. Its statement-making black-and-white facade has been turning heads. The hotel occupies a row of six conservation shophouses, which have been completely transformed in an extensive refurbishment by President Design Award-winning firm Spacedge Designs. Hotel Mono was officially opened in November 2016.

The stylishly chic hotel presents an appealing proposition for discerning travelers – high quality rooms and service standards at very attractive prices. “We want to provide accommodations that are the best value for the money and a five-star service experience,” said GM Glenn Quah.

Besides charm and comfort in every room, guests enjoy better quality beddings, bathroom amenities and more spacious rooms, for prices comparable to the budget accommodations in the same area. Rates at the 46-room Hotel Mono start at just $160 net per night for a Double room, while a Family room sleeping four people costs under $300.

The bathroom ensemble reflects simplicity with contemporary flair.

Its bathrooms represent the conceptualization of a hip retreat for design-savvy travelers (and locals) – guests who appreciate the originality of design. A bold and contemporary design language is relevant throughout the hotel. Every room features a seamless integration of metal bars that traverse the space like lines drawn in the air, meantime, functioning as light fixtures, coat hangers and sculptures.

The boutique hotel celebrates the quality of being the only one of its kind. Due to restrictions and particulars in the floor plans of shophouse styled architecture, no two rooms are identical. Their unique characters are manifested in the name that affirms the validity of these bold and original design concepts.

Link :

50 Years of Proof of the 100 Houses Project // When Traditional Khmer is Mixed with Modernism by Vann Molyvann

50 Years of Proof of the 100 Houses Project // When Traditional Khmer is Mixed with Modernism by Vann Molyvann

Bringing the design concepts of  Le Corbusier to Cambodia, the legendary architect Vann Molyvann completed his 100 Houses Project in 1967. 50 years on, what do we see there now?

/// Cambodia ///

Story: Samutcha Viraporn /// Photography: Sitthisak Namkham


The original structures of some abandoned 100 Houses homes remain: raised floors, kitchen chimneys, etc.
Time and neglect leave their marks. Left: living room; right: bedroom
Original stairway and metal railing

Before the Khmer Rouge period, Vann Molyvann was Cambodian architecture’s biggest star. After receiving a 1946 scholarship and studying in France he returned as Cambodia’s National Architect, combining modernist with traditional Cambodian design to produce such grand works as the Chaktomuk Conference Hall, Olympic National Sports Complex, Institute of Foreign Languages, and the “100 Houses Project,” designed as employee housing for The National Bank of Cambodia at Phnom Penh. “100 Houses” was started in 1965 and completed in 1967.

Typically a Project house is a concrete structure holding a large living room and bedroom, raised above the ground with a 7.2 meter span between support posts. Floor, door and window frames, and roof frame are of wood. The roof has a Cambodian-style slant, and for good ventilation, windows reach almost to the ceiling. Kitchen and bathroom are built separate from the main house.

Cambodian family house where Martin Aerne lives
Stairway and entrance gate

After the Khmer Rouge takeover and the massive changes it brought, Vann Molyvann moved to Switzerland. Many of his creations such as this project were abandoned and overgrown, or randomly preempted by new occupants. Living ASEAN recently visited Tuk Thla district to find out how the village looked after all this time, and met Martin Aerne, Swiss architect and teacher, who now lives in one of the “100 Houses.”

Martin Aerne’s living room becomes an architectural office
Bathroom and kitchen section separate from main house
Corner of living room, leading into bedroom
Green space. Tall windows. Houses arranged to catch the breeze and not block each other’s views.

Martin Aerne tells us about coming to Cambodia, meeting Vann Molyvann, and discussing how to preserve works from the age of New Khmer Architecture. This prompted him to rent a space and open an architecture office on the upper floor of a Cambodian family home.

Martin notes that for privacy, homes in the Project are designed with alternating levels. Bedroom windows of one house aren’t open to view from the  next. The porch of one house looks out on the garden of another. And even with no common garden, there’s green everywhere.

Martin Aerne, architect and architecture instructor in Phnom Penh
Martin Aerne’s residence

Not many of the old-style houses remain: new owners have demolished them, rebuilt, or added on willy-nilly with no thought to historical value. Two or three abandoned houses from the original project are fortunately still here, since even in their ramshackle state they’re a great aid for studying Vann Molyvann’s amazing work from the 50s  and 60s, of which on a 1967 visit Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said, “I hope, one day, my city will look like this.

Most homes in the 100 Houses Project have been demolished, added onto, or rebuilt
Blueprint of original house:



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All-in-One Creative Space

All-in-One Creative Space

Great ideas don’t just happen. They come from having a creative work environment, which is vital in the innovative process. An all-inclusive workspace, such as this one, can make a difference in your projects, too.

/// Malaysia ///
Story: LivingASEAN / Photography: Sitthisak Namkham



For the past half-century, the printing factory at Art Printing Works has stood in Bangsar, a suburb on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. Recently it has been transformed into an all-inclusive workspace called “APW Campus”. Among its objectives: Combine the art, business, and technology and put them to work together in one creative environment.

creative space

Having a fight with colleagues? Vent your fury and settle it with Street Fighter machines instead.
Having a fight with colleagues? Vent your fury and settle it with Street Fighter machines instead.
No reception counter, no problem! Use an old printing press instead.
No reception counter, no problem! Use an old printing press instead.

The 6,500-square-meter workspace on the property was redesigned to allocate resources in a different way without any change to the existing structure. A co-working space, appropriately named “Uppercase,” is on the second floor, right above the printing factory that still prints reputable books and magazines.

Pulp by Papa Palheta, an on-site café
Pulp by Papa Palheta, an on-site café
Paper Plates Food Court
Paper Plates Food Court

Whilst there, visitors can also get some grub to refresh their creative energy. A caffeine boost is available at Pulp by Papa Palheta, an on-site café offering all kinds of specialty coffee, while Paper Plates, a food court favorite among locals, serves a wide array of fine foods and drinks.

The surrounding areas, both indoors and outdoors, can be used as venues for extracurricular activities, from art exhibitions and product launches to cooking classes and outdoor rock concerts. The all-in-one creative space is designed to showcase a thousand ways to inspire new inventions and the innovative process.


7 Extraordinary Types of Stilt Houses Found in the ASEAN

7 Extraordinary Types of Stilt Houses Found in the ASEAN

Because of unique landscape and climatic factors, our ancestors in Southeast Asia designed and built stilt houses, and they came in a variety of styles. From houses in Inle Lake to earthquake-resistant structures in Indonesia, from a “bomb village” in Laos to the traditional Thai house, the stilt house is one way people have come to live with nature. Let’s check it out!


Stilt Houses in Inle Lake / Myanmar

The traditional houses in Inle Lake, Shan state, Myanmar was built by local people. There is a population of 70,000 people living in four cities bordering the lake, in numerous small villages along the lake’s shores, and on the lake itself. Housing there provides some good examples of how people live with water.

Stilt Houses in Inle Lake, Myanmar / Photo:
Stilt Houses in Inle Lake, Myanmar / Photo By 3coma14 (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Bahnar Rong and Ede Long House / Vietnam

The Bahnar, Giarai, and Ede are 3 ethnic groups who live in the central highlands of Vietnam, and their houses are extraordinary examples of native architecture. In the center of their communities, the Bahnar and Giarai build strikingly tall houses called “Rong,” to show off the status of the village, while the Ede build very long houses which serve extended families. Each type of structure sits on low stilts and is made of wood and bamboo.

Bahnar Rong, Vietnam / Photo by By User:Doron (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Ede Long House, Vietnam / Photo:


Tongkonan, South Sulawesi / Indonesia

The distinctive point of these “stilt houses” is not stilts, but rather their unique roof shape, which originated in an ancient royal Chinese boat design. The wooden construction used to assemble the house with tongue and groove techniques without nails. Most of them have been built more than one century. The Tongkonan custom house has been listed as a UNESCO world cultural heritage site since 2010.

Tongkonan, Indonesia / Photo by 22Kartika (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Nias Traditional House, Bawömataluo / Indonesia

Nias Island has some oval-shaped, steep-roofed wooden houses on stilts. These structures, able to withstand powerful earthquakes, are built without the use of nails.

Nias Traditional House, Indonesia / Photo:
Nias Traditional House, Indonesia / Photo:


Bomb Village / Laos

Unexploded bombs were recycled as many ways in the Hmong village of Phonsavan. You’ll see innovative ideas for how to bring this weapon into everyday use in such items as boats, flower pots, garden decoration, and house stilts. Oh, didn’t you know? Laos is the most heavily bombed country in the world. During the Vietnam War 270 million cluster bombs were dropped in Laos, and about 80 million of them did not explode.

Bomb Village, Laos / Photo:

Photo: Mark Watson,
Photo: Mark Watson,
Photo: Mark Watson,

Traditional Thai House / Thailand

Now, back to the past: there are many reasons traditional Thai houses have often built facing out towards rivers, or even over them. Raising a house on stilts provides  semi-outdoor space underneath, which can be used for storage of tools or agricultural equipment, eating meals, social activities, or to avoid being flooded out during the rainy season.

Photo by Rithirong Chanthongsuk
Photo by Aphirux Suksai


The Colonial Style in Cambodia

The Colonial Style in Cambodia

The colonial style is apparent, but most of the buildings were designed with appropriate adaptations to fit in with the hot and humid climate.

/// Cambodia ///

Story: Virak Roeun



The “Place de la Poste” Square with the Cambodia Post building in background
Neoclassical features on the front façade of Cambodia Post Building

The French colonial style of architecture is apparent, but most of the buildings were designed with appropriate adaptations to fit in with the hot and humid climate. They included design features, décor ideas, and ornaments well suited for the local environment, examples of which are obvious on the façade of the Postal Service Building. Built in 1895, Cambodia Post showcases wooden louver windows and doors, high ceilings and solid brick walls designed to keep the heat out. Opposite it stands the former Hotel Manolis, where Monsieur André Malraux, a celebrated novelist and first minister of culture of France, stayed in the 1920s. Since 1979 it has become a private residence. The Cambodia Post building looks extraordinarily good on a grand scale, but the abandoned Central Police Commissariat nearby is probably more elaborate in design. Its exterior appears to be neglected, but inside, the corridors and the rooms are never directly exposed to the elements and the heat.

The former Hotel Manolis exhibits an architectural style prevalent during the French colonial era.
Terraced houses reminiscent of old-world Europe lie opposite the Manolis.
An original wooden staircase inside the Manolis
A room number plate stands the test of time at the former hotel Manolis.
The former water tank of the hotel Manolis
Original tile flooring at the Manolis tells a story of its long and arduous journey through time.
Vendors set up shop in front of the abandoned Central Police Commissariat in Phnom Penh.
Mirror images of design details are evident throughout this building from colonial era.
The entrance to the former Bank of Indochina
Five Roof Types in Laos: Vernacular Architecture in Perspective

Five Roof Types in Laos: Vernacular Architecture in Perspective

Laos, officially the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, is one of ten ASEAN members. There is more to Laos than Luang Prabang, the beautiful old city and World Heritage site. The country is also known for beautiful culture, unique traditions, and pristine landscape.

Story: Thanavoud Inthasone, Xaysomvang Philavong, Souksavanh Vongchandy /// Illustrations: Thanavoud Inthasone /// Editors: Thassareeya Songpao, Witchayapha Boonpha

In this episode, we take a look at an aspect of vernacular architecture that had flourished there before the advent of French colonial influences. A team of Lao interns takes delight in presenting five roof types that have come to characterize the way of living of our closest neighbors since time immemorial.


The Katu

Since a very long time ago, the Katu tribe has lived together in small villages. Their houses are arranged in a circle and oriented to face one another. Each house has two entrances — one in front, the other at the rear.

The traditional Katu house is raised on piles with a thatched roof that extends to cover the front porch, balcony, and stepladders. The entire roof is covered in thatching made from dried vegetation, such as broad-leaved grasses and Ceylon oak leaves. There is an animal figurine on the ridge of the gable roof. According to tradition, the small figure is believed to have supernatural power capable of protecting the building and people living in it.

There are no room dividers of any kind. Family members live under the same roof and share the same interior living spaces. Nowadays traditional Kratu homes can be found in Sekong, Salavan, and Champasak provinces in the south of the country.



The Akha

Homes of the Akha tribe are crafted largely of local materials, like timber and earth. Basic roof frames and support beams are fastened together using vines harvested from the natural surroundings. The gable roof is covered in thatching made from dried Ceylon oak leaves. The Akha home features extended roof eaves on all four sides, which help divert the water flow away from the building. What’s unique is that it has no windows. This and other features combine to effective protect the interior living spaces from the elements especially during winter months. The Akha tribe lives mostly in the northern country known for its temperate climates. The region includes the provinces of Phongsali, Luang Namtha, and Oudomsai.

The Akha tribe believes men and women should live separately. Thus entering the territory of the opposite gender is forbidden. That explains why room dividers are a must in the Akha home, where each gender is entitled to its own private space.

The Oi

Similarly, homes of the Oi tribe are houses on stilts made of timber and thatched roofing. The difference lies in its interior design. The Oi house typically comes with a bedroom reserved for the married couple that live there. There is a separate space that is used either as shared bedroom or as living area for unmarried family members. The kitchen space lies also part of the interior.

The Oi house offers two balconies – one in front, the other at the rear. Tradition dictates that adult males and females live separately until they are married off. The Oi tribal is a small ethnic group living in the southern country, mostly in Phu Luang District.

The Taliang

The Taliang tribe lives in thatched houses made of bamboo pallets in generally cooler and wet climates of the Lao PDR. That pretty much explains why their houses are windowless. Roof thatching is made from dried vegetation, such as broad-leaved grasses and Ceylon oak leaves. Unlike those of other ethnic groups, the Taliang home comes with three doorways, one on each porch. The entire family sleeps together in one big hall that is a shared bedroom. The interior offers a fireplace to keep warm during winter months.

Taliang houses are arranged in a circle similar to those of the Katu village. There is a center court where tribal ceremonies and rituals are held. The Taliang live in the hill country in southern Laos, which includes the districts of Dak Jung, Lam Mam, Thateng in Sekong and Champasak provinces.


The Khmu

The typical Khmu house is raised on short piles only about one to two meters above ground. The front façade boasts an awning roof that protects the entire front porch from the elements. Unlike those of other ethnic groups, the Khmu house is accessible via a single set of stepladders. The Khmu thatch-roof house has no windows. The crossbeams that are parts of the roof frame also double as storage for household essentials. Exterior walls are crafted of bamboo pallets, while the interior space consists of a large bedroom, small bedroom, living room, and kitchen. Men and women gain access to the house via the single entryway.

The Khmu tribe lives in the high country about 500 meters above sea level. To avoid gusty winds on the highlands of northern and southern Laos, the Khmu have learned to keep their houses low to the ground. Interestingly enough, aerodynamic design comes naturally to them.


The New Architecture Icon in Malaysia // The New PAM Centre

The New Architecture Icon in Malaysia // The New PAM Centre

The New PAM Centre just has opened in Bangsar, Kuala Lumper. The design incorporated the use of a narrow tract of land and provides a unique ventilation system as a climate solution. The striking black aluminum façade of this building has made the new architecture icon in Malaysia.

/// Malaysia /// 

Story : Samutcha Viraporn /// Photos : Sitthisak Namkham 



Malaysian Institute of Architects or also known as Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia (PAM) held the competition to build the new PAM centre in 2012. The winner, HMA & Associates came up with the ultimate solutions in designing this unique space. The 10-story building features black aluminum screening, concrete slabs and blocks, brick walls, steel staircases, exposed pipes, and green spaces inside the building to balance the space.





Mohd Heikal bin Hasan of HMA & Associates

“It is a linear site, very narrow. Actually the size is suitable for a bungalow. The concept is how to bring external space into the building. You can see the green spaces in many areas as staircases design. Because of the limited size, we didn’t have the external Space needed.” Mohd Heikal bin Hasan of HMA & Associates explains.




This type of architectural designcontains 4 main elements
  1. The Space Between, This void merges necessity, functionality, and aesthetic beauty into a remarkable facade.
  2. The Stairs, The vertical staircases create excellent ventilation from one floor to throughout the structure.
  3. The Plane, Also known as the shields blocks neighboring bulky design with eye-straining color scheme.
  4. The Screen, A breathable skin that helps to protect the building from the sunlight from the west.




Once you step into this building, you can feel the natural ventilation around you. Of course, this design reduces energy consumption for saving electricity. All of the elements are not only appealing but also functional. This building is an excellence example of regional tropical design.

The auditorium
The exhibition room

Moreover, this building has even more small surprise inside of it. Before the building was built, a small 2-story dwelling was previously located on the land. The architect decided to keep the structure of the house inside the big building. On the first and the second floor, you can see the original columns and beams in the exhibition room. It is amazing how the older structure remain in this big project. The architect wanted to communicate to us to “Please do not forget who you are and where you come from in the new modern world.” Brilliant!