Blog : concrete facade

Proud Phu Fah Muang Chiang Mai: A Hotel at Nature’s Edge Embraces a Mix of Modern and Traditional

Proud Phu Fah Muang Chiang Mai: A Hotel at Nature’s Edge Embraces a Mix of Modern and Traditional

/ Chiang Mai, Thailand /

/ Story: Phattaraphon / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Nantiya /

A hotel chain widely recognized in Chiang Mai’s Mae Rim District for the past 15 years has opened a new branch in Muang District in what is seen as a major expansion of luxury, comfort and style. Proud Phu Fah Muang Chiang Mai advocates living next door to nature while showcasing an intriguing combination of modern design with rich culture and beautiful traditional crafts. Its design concept keeps firmly to the belief that being in nature provides deep relaxation. And the result of all this is a resort hotel that’s environmentally conscious, plus it’s tailored to the needs of specialized segments of the market.

Proud Phu Fah Muang Chiang Mai

Needless to say, the hotel landscape is out of this world. Like taking a spellbinding journey into the woods, Proud Phu Fah Chiang Mai is a perfect escape away from the crowds, where the air is filled with the continuous murmuring sound of water flowing and leaves rustling in the trees creating detailed mental images of the beautiful northern landscape.

The brainchild of Full Scale Studio, a homegrown architectural practice, Proud Phu Fah Muang Chiang Mai embraces reconnections with the natural world. It consists of a pair of three-story buildings thoughtfully devised to merge into countryside vernacular, at the same time reaping the full health benefits of sunshine and fresh air.

Proud Phu Fah Muang Chiang Mai
The sound of a babbling brook amid lush green vegetation reconnects Proud Phu Fah Muang Chiang Mai with its natural surroundings.

The main idea is to let the aroma of nature permeate through the landscape. Such is manifested in a pair of well-maintained giant rain trees providing shade and a focal point in the center courtyard. By design it has become a favorite place of relaxation and rejuvenation among hotel guests.

Proud Phu Fah Muang Chiang Mai
Lee Kuan Yew trees (scientific name: Vernonia elliptica DC) growing luxuriantly inside a protective barrier provide natural privacy screens for hotel rooms.
Well-maintained trees keep the center courtyard in shade for much of the day.

Front and center, well-thought-out planning ensures that all the rooms have access to the best view of the natural surroundings. The first building, called Building A, is directed at a 45-degree angle to soak up a wonderful panorama of the mountains, while the second, known as Building B, is set along the 90-degree line for a beautiful orchard view.

Where appropriate, new trees offering fragrant flowers are added to the existing contiguous woodlands, resulting in uniform composition.

Architecturally speaking, it’s a project that emphasizes the use of concrete, brick and wood directly sourced from the locality as the building materials of choice. Aside from giving a sense of identity and cultural heritage, they double as storytelling tools conveying a great deal about the love of nature and preservation of traditional crafts.

Proud Phu Fah Muang Chiang Mai
Where solid walls are not suitable, perforate walls are built of breeze blocks in various contemporary styles to promote natural air circulation on the premises.

Proud Phu Fah Muang Chiang Mai
A gallery along the outside of the building is designed to connect with nature.

An example of this is Minimal Lanna, a type of room that advocates Minimalism in art infused with a mix of traditional crafts and modern interior design.

The room has furniture beautifully crafted of teakwood, ceramic tiles, and ceramic washbasins with kid design custom-painted by the property owner, plus decorating items in a variety of finishes handcrafted by local artisans and contemporary artists in the region.

Overall, it’s a design that places great emphasis on the beauty of simplicity and the use of soft neutral tones for deep relaxation.

A type of guest rooms called Minimal Lanna advocates Minimalism in art with an interesting combination of local crafts with modern furnishing and decoration.
Proud Phu Fah Muang Chiang Mai
The Honeymoon Grand View room on the third floor of Building A boasts the beauty of split level design in descending order starting with the bathroom, bedroom, living room and finally the balcony.
Proud Phu Fah Muang Chiang Mai
The Honeymoon Grand View room on the third floor of Building A has a bathtub in the open air with an unbroken view of nearby wooded hillsides.

To reduce the harsh texture of concrete construction, red bricks come in handy for multiple applications. Among other things, the external envelope of Building B consists of brick walls inspired by the craft of basket-making known as “Lai Song” patterns in the vernacular of the Northern Region.

Like poetry in motion, the reflection of sunlight on the walls creates interesting sights and shadows that change from morning to evening.

A guest room on the first floor of Building B has a private onsen, or hot spring pool with a refreshing garden view.
Proud Phu Fah Muang Chiang Mai
Perforate building facades in different colors and textures add interesting dimensions to the architecture of the hotel and landscapes.

For indoor thermal comfort, where appropriate perforate walls are built using contemporary cement blocks with holes in them that serve as engine driving natural air circulation and letting natural daylight stream into the interior.

In a way, they form an integral part that blends seamlessly with the landscape enlivened by the sounds of a babbling brook amid a forest garden with walkways made for relaxation. Together, they go to work connecting Proud Phu Fah Muang Chiang Mai with the idyllic natural setting.

Proud Phu Fah Muang Chiang Mai
Brick walls in stunning earthy hues inspired by weaving techniques known as Lai Song patterns blend harmoniously with lush vegetation in the immediate surroundings.

Architect: Full Scale Studio, Tel. 08-9154-1758

Landscape Architect: H2O Design Co., Ltd, Tel. 08-1531-1871


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W39 House: A Hillside Home Renovation That Brings the Outdoors in

W39 House: A Hillside Home Renovation That Brings the Outdoors in

/ Ampang Jaya, Malaysia /

/ Story: Sarayut Sreetip-ard / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul /

Built on a slope, this three-story home renovation project sits beautifully ensconced by a vast expanse of lush vegetation. The front façade opens to the east to take in panoramic views of the rolling hills as the sun rises over the horizon. The back of the house facing the hillside holds a quiet, secluded area for living rooms and bedrooms.

Originally purchased as part of a development project back in 1980, it has gone through several improvements to maintain a good state of repair. After the children had grown up and moved out to start a family of their own, the home was last renovated from 2015 to 2018.

Among other things, the upper floors were tailored to meet the needs of aging Mom and Dad while rooms downstairs are reserved for accommodations for visiting children.

Drawings of floor plans for all three levels. / Courtesy of Zlg Design
A cross-section drawing shows the side elevation of the home renovation project built on the hillside. / Courtesy of Zlg Design

Back in the day when the kids were young, the interior of the house was divided into smaller rooms. Things have changed and hence all the room dividers were torn down to create a larger, more light and airy interior that’s compatible with the Tropical climate.

The result is a complete home renovation that brings elements of the outdoors into the home. They include rays of sunshine that stream in through openings in brick walls and skylights, plus fresh air and the smell of flowers in the room.

Home Renovation
The first-floor bedroom overlooks the front yard that’s set apart from the entrance to the main living spaces on the second floor.
Home Renovation
The bedroom is tucked away at the farthest end while skylights illuminate a nearby utility area.
W39 House Home Renovation
The bedroom wall is fitted with plantation shutters designed for good ventilation. It opens to connect with the entrance hall and center court.

The first floor contains a studio apartment complete with bedroom, bathroom, laundry space and a front yard landscape. The second floor holds sitting room with a kitchen island and dining space that opens to the terrace overlooking the backyard.

W39 House Home Renovation

W39 House Home Renovation
All second-floor room dividers have since been removed to create an open-concept living space that connects with a green hillside landscape in the backyard.

W39 House Home Renovation

To ensure safety, the backyard is made secure by retaining wall systems that protect against flooding and erosion as well as create usable land for plants to thrive, a setting that conjures up images of being in the great outdoors.

W39 House Home Renovation

W39 House Home Renovation
A semi-outdoor kitchen is hemmed in by retaining walls built into the mountainside.
W39 House Home Renovation
The room in the front of the house affords beautiful views of the mountain landscape. The façade is glazed in metal framing with window hinges recycled from the old house.
W39 House Home Renovation
Skylights in the rooftop illuminate the center court. They serve as engine that drives natural air circulation vertically and horizontally.

The third floor is accessible via a spiral staircase. It’s a quiet, secluded living space with sitting room, home office and bedroom set apart by divider curtains for easy updates. Open to the outdoors, it conveys a great deal about the inextricable connection between humans and nature.

A spiral staircase connects to third floor. It’s enclosed in perforated walls built of light mass brick that’s inexpensive, plus there’s no need for cement plastering. During the daytime, rays of sunshine streaming inside add interesting dimension to the room.
W39 House Home Renovation
The third-floor corridor runs the entire length of the weather-beaten cement wall. Framed art pieces line the interior wall reminiscent of a small gallery.

In terms of value it’s a good home renovation that stands the test of time thanks in part to quality materials that perform well despite the weather. Meantime, bare concrete surfaces and brick masonry walls blend perfectly into their surroundings.

The front façade has since been adapted to go well with metal window and door casings. For good looks, they are fitted with vintage hinges recycled from old homes.

There’s a part of the wall that’s made using light mass bricks without cement plastering. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to find locally. Where appropriate, openings are made in the brick walls to let fresh air and natural light stream into the home creating abstract reflections on the wall. It’s a way to keep the interior cool and comfortable without air conditioning.

W39 House Home Renovation
Drapery hanging in loose folds divides the third floor into different rooms. At every level, the bathroom is set against the exterior wall to create ample living spaces inside.

W39 House Home Renovation

The bathroom is enclosed in perforated brickwork for good ventilation. Nearby solid sliding doors and walls add privacy protection while the gap at the top lets air pass through.

The natural surroundings play a crucial role in making a home renovation full of life and energy. This place is no exception. It’s a happy home built on a good understanding of the environment and the humble nature of human and non-human elements in nature.

So it’s good to let nature take its course for a change. Let lichens grow. Leave those little mud stains on the wall alone. Let climbers thrive on the trellis and the wall. They are there for good reason.

The same applies to those unkempt ground covering weeds here and there. There is beauty in imperfections too, especially those semi-outdoor decks made of wood planks. They may be worn by exposure to the air.

Unpleasant, perhaps? But they serve the purpose as place to enjoy a good cup of tea, have a conversation, even prepare food and wash dishes, or just sit back and relax in the early morning quiet. That’s the secret to living a memorable life.

W39 House Home Renovation
A relaxing nook on Floor 3 sits directly above the semi-outdoor kitchen on Floor 2. It opens to a vertical garden that fills up the retaining wall built into the hillside.

Owner: Susanne Zeidler, Huat Lim

Architect: Zlg Design (zlgdesign.wordpress.com) by Susanne Zeidler, Huat Lim


This house appears in the Special Bilingual Edition (English and Thai) of Baan Lae Suan and Living Asean, titled “Tropical Suburban and Country Homes”. It focuses on designs for cozy living in harmony with nature.

We have handpicked ten houses for this special edition that serve as the perfect example of design innovations in sync with the natural world. Front and center, it’s about the pursuit of ways to live more sustainably and create a better future for all. Looking for inspiration? Perhaps a glimpse into nature-inspired “Tropical Suburban and Country Homes” is a good place to start.

Delve into the new book today. It’s hitting Thailand shelves now. For more details, visit https://www.naiin.com/product/detail/592504

For bulk ordering, contact livingasean.bkk@gmail.com


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Small Houses in Cambodia: Lack of Space Is Nicely Compensated for by a Cozy Garden Ambience

Small Houses in Cambodia: Lack of Space Is Nicely Compensated for by a Cozy Garden Ambience

/ Phnom Penh, Cambodia /

/ Story: Kor Lordkam / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Hiroyuki Oki /

Like a dream turning into a vibrant reality, a trio of small houses sits beautifully ensconced in a cul-de-sac away from the noise and traffic on the main thoroughfare in central Phnom Penh. Together they occupy the full extent of a tiny piece of property, with leafy vines growing luxuriantly covering much of the front façade in subdued earthy reds.

small houses cambodia

The lush covering conveys a great deal about the architect’s firm determination to overcome space constraints and create enjoyable homes against all odds. The result is a trio of thoughtfully devised living spaces made cozy and comfortable by allowing fresh, outdoor air and natural light into the home.

Plus, dense green trailing plants add privacy to the inside, a clever hack to let nature permeate and protect the home from the glare of the midday sun.

small houses cambodia

Albeit small, the three houses have four levels of usable space and functions, including a sky garden on the rooftop deck. The building façades crafted of concrete breeze blocks in dark shades of reds blend with the vertical garden growing luxuriantly on the balconies, creating a pleasing combination clearly visible from a distance.

Together they form a double-layer thermal envelope that’s the first line of defense against the harsh sun and rain. For neat appearances, the three entrance doors at street level blend into the shimmering perforate façades adorned with climbing plants.

Flashback: Old photographs show the physical appearance of the subsidiary street neighborhood prior to construction. / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
A diagrammatic representation of the subsidiary street neighborhood where the trio of small houses islocated. / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
First-floor house plan / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
Second-floor house plan / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
Third-floor house plan / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
A simplified drawing shows space utilization on the rooftop decks of the three houses. / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
Concrete breeze blocks with a concave outline designed and manufactured for outer shell construction. / Courtesy of Bloom Architecture
small houses cambodia
Concrete breeze blocks in subdued earthy reds blend perfectly with the dense green foliage on the building façade.

Being of the right size and shape, the three homes fit perfectly into a square-shaped piece of land. The first two houses are relatively small, with similar square-shaped plans built side by side facing the same way. The third house is rectangular shaped and slightly larger. It’s situated at the rear of the property facing a different direction.

small houses cambodia

small houses cambodia
Double height ceiling design makes the small living space fell larger and more comfortable.

small houses cambodia

With regard to interior design, the first floor holds a spacious, uncluttered living room with a kitchenette for entertaining houseguests, while the more secluded second and third levels contain bedrooms.

The fourth floor is a rooftop deck with semi-outdoor sitting rooms for relaxation and leafy plants thriving in containers placed along the edges. The same interior layout applies to all three, except for the rooftop decks of the two front units that are connected to create a bigger shared space.

small houses cambodia

Quite the contrary to what might be expected, it’s a trio of small homes with larger house functionality, plus roomy, uncluttered design made for cozy, comfortable living.

What is lacking in terms of space is nicely compensated for by well-thought-out design, plus plenty of refreshing greenery all around. Like a pleasant surprise, they make perfect escapes, a trio of quiet and secluded family homes despite their proximity to the hustle and bustle of downtown Phnom Penh.

Here, the secrets to a happy home lies in the perforate shells adorned with leafy vines keeping the snug interior nice and warm all year round.

small houses cambodia
Green leafy plants growing luxuriantly on the balcony provide refreshing coolness and privacy protection for the bedroom.
Semi-outdoor room on the rooftop deck is decorated with plants thriving in containers along the side of the building.

small houses cambodia

small houses cambodia
The perforate shell covered in lush greenery provides a focal point and sense of space in the neighborhood.

By design, the perforate facades made of concrete breeze blocks serve as engine that drive natural ventilation keeping the home cool in summer. They also allow just the right amounts of daylight streaming into the interior turning it into an oasis of calm during the daytime.

On the outside, they add an extra layer of protection from sun and rain, creating a double-layer outer shell that allows air to pass through the intermediate gap in between.

More so than anything else, they provide a visual combination showcasing the beauty of simplicity, the power of nature and human ingenuity in providing solutions to problems and overcoming challenges. It’s as simple as that!

small houses cambodia
A slab of concrete at the bottom of the window frame affords a good view of the neighborhood below.

Architect: Antoine Meinnel of Bloom Architecture (www.bloom-architecture.com)

Design Team: Antoine Meinnel, Kong Lim, Ny Kechseang, Heng Thanak


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Sep’on Heartfulness Center: A Stylishly Chic Boutique Hotel with a Narrow Frontage

Sep’on Heartfulness Center: A Stylishly Chic Boutique Hotel with a Narrow Frontage

/ Nha Trang, Vietnam /

/ Story: Phattaraphon / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Duy Nhat, Le Ba Loc /

Here’s Sep’on Heartfulness Center, a small-capacity boutique hotel built on an elongated rectangle in Nha Trang, a coastal town in the South of Vietnam. Even with a narrow frontage to the street, it offers 600 sq. m. of accommodation spaces with views of the city landscape. The design-driven wholesome destination conveys a great deal about truth-to-materials architecture, which holds that everything is used in its natural form — unadorned, unpainted, neither polished nor hidden.

Sep'on Heartfulness Center

Named “Sep’on Heartfulness Center, the boutique hotel project is the brainchild of 324PRAXIS, an architectural practice based in Ho Chi Minh City. Their main mission: overcome every challenge on the project site and come up with a small stylish hotel, one that’s full of character and suitable for an urban environment.

The result is a five-story building that’s graceful and chic in appearance. Its front façade is made attractive by small balconies accessible from guest rooms on the upper floors. Enclosed by twisted wrought iron balustrades, they give good views of the cityscape, admit fresh air and add natural light to the interior.

Sep'on Heartfulness Center

Sep'on Heartfulness Center

Such is the elegance of design that’s also found in several places throughout the five-story concrete building. The ground floor contains a semi-outdoor sitting room and coffee bar decorated with greenery that has become a popular meeting place among locals and tourists.

Hotel rooms on the upper floors are accessible via metal staircases attached to the rear of the building. They are built outdoors to give the appearance of a more open engineering structure, thereby showcasing the true nature of building materials.

Sep'on Heartfulness Center

Sep'on Heartfulness Center

Site Plan Courtesy of 324PRAXIS
Ground Floor Plan to 2nd Floor Plan Courtesy of 324PRAXIS
3rd Floor Plan to 5th Floor Plan Courtesy of 324PRAXIS
Section Courtesy of 324PRAXIS

The same open-concept design applies to the roofed platforms and passages along the outside of the building. They are suited to serve several purposes, from outdoor sitting rooms and cityscape viewing spots to yoga workout class and room to practice meditation. It’s a calm and peaceful place to take a breath of fresh air and enjoy views of the city.

Sep'on Heartfulness Center

Sep'on Heartfulness Center

Sep'on Heartfulness Center

Even with its small capacity, the hotel is able to provide a variety of accommodations ranging from suites to deluxe rooms and duplexes consisting of two apartments. They share one thing in common — a design that faithfully represents the principle of truth-to-materials architecture.

This holds that any building material is used in a way that’s the most appropriate, while the method of construction is unhidden. Besides taking in views of the cityscape, it’s about bringing the outdoors into the room, thereby creating a comfortable ambience filled with fresh air and natural light.

Plus, furniture is kept to a minimum to ensure the room is uncluttered, safe and right for simple living.

Sep'on Heartfulness Center

Taking everything into account, Sep’on Heartfulness Center is a boutique hotel beautifully made to fit the circumstances that form the setting of the coastal city neighborhood. Despite the challenges and limitations, the design team at 324PRAXIS is able to create a place for board and lodging that’s stylishly chic. It’s a charming place to be next time you sojourn in this part of Vietnam.


Architects: 324PRAXIS (www.324praxis.com)

Lead Architects: Dat Dinh

Design team: Nguyen Ngoc My Ngan, Vo Ngoc Khanh Chi


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Never Too Small: Renovation Gives a Townhouse the Atmosphere of Home

Never Too Small: Renovation Gives a Townhouse the Atmosphere of Home

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

/ Story: Wuthikorn Sut / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Nattakit Jeerapatmitee /

An old townhouse in the heart of Bangkok’s downtown has been lovingly restored in ways that adapt to changing lifestyle needs. No longer is it a stuffy, overcrowded space lacking fresh air and ventilation. A redesigned open floor plan has given it the feeling of home, a sense of belonging and purpose. Incredibly light and airy, it feels like anything but a townhouse, so to speak.

Inheriting the townhouse from his parents, the new owner has made a firm decision to renovate it to a good state of repair.

It’s the place where he lives when traveling to the city for business. Or it can be available to be rented if need be.

The task of refurbishment was given to a team of architects from the design firm OAAS. Central to their work was the creation of an open concept home plan that’s flexible for multiple uses.

townhouse

townhouse

Accordingly, the old second-floor balcony was knocked down and replaced by steel framing for a light and spacious façade.

Upstairs, the entire floor plan was revised, while the ground floor platform was raised slightly to keep it above the edge of the water during a flood.

townhouse

Never too small to make a difference, the newly refurbished townhouse stands out from the rest in that its building shell is made of air bricks that are great for natural ventilation.

The perforated bricks double as a decorative privacy screen that protects the home from prying eyes. It’s a surefire way to improve air circulation and get rid of stuffy smells, a common problem of townhouse living.

townhouse

The wooden door opens into a surprisingly peaceful semi-outdoor room aptly named “Sala”, which is Thai for garden pavilion. Albeit situated at the front of the house, it’s a private living space that conveniently connects to the sitting room and dining area lying further inside.

Beautifully designed, it calls to mind an image of a garden sitting area with a side passage for walking along.

townhouse

The overall effect is impressive. The side passage sets this townhouse apart from the others.

Since it’s often impossible to build a walkway around a townhouse, it makes perfect sense to build one on the inside that connects the garden pavilion at the front with the living room and other functions at the rear.

townhouse

There is a challenge to overcome. Because the side passage takes away a large chunk of the square footage of the house, the designers have to make a choice from a range of possibilities.

Among them, an open concept floor plan is useful in making the home feel more spacious. There’s no need for room dividers for a home theater or TV lounge since it’s never a desirable lifestyle here.

Plus, by floating furniture, the owner is free to create a more intimate atmosphere and a layout that’s capable of multiple uses.


Owner: Jiramate Chanaturakarnnon

Architect: OAAS

Design team: Sineenart Suptanon, Sirakit Charoenkitpisut, Nattakit Jeerapatmitee, Jiramate Chanaturakarnnon


The article is an excerpt from “Shophouse & Townhome”, a proudly presented publication from the “Best Home Series” under “room Books Publishing.
Available in paperback (Thai Edition) at: https://www.naiin.com/product/detail/532110
Here’s how to order online. https://www.naiin.com/how-to-buy/read/1125


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The Beauty of Simplicity in a Single-Story Home

The Beauty of Simplicity in a Single-Story Home

/ Ang Thong, Thailand /

/ Story: Patsiri Chot / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul / Styling: Somboon Kringkrai /

Right in the middle of a field in Ang Thong Province stands a single-story house that has become a community point of interest.

Single-Storey House

Owner Chamnan Chatchawalyangkul says, “At my age, I really needed to make this happen while I was still strong enough to get around.

“I don’t want to be a burden on my kids when I’m not so capable anymore, living in a cramped room with them worrying about me all the time.

“I needed to plan in advance to have a house where I can take care of myself. And the house will eventually belong to the kids anyhow.” 

 

Single-Storey House / Teerachai Leesuraplanon

Chamnan’s design is spare and open, with excellent ventilation. With everything on the same level, each room is accessible by wheelchair.

One special place is a karaoke room for him and his friends. Architect Jim (Teerachai) Leesuraplanon tells us:

“Chamnan said he’d always lived in a rowhouse, a limited, safe space. Some people might want a house in the middle of an open lot to be open all around, but I think about safety, too.

“This is why we put the brick wall in front, and the iron bars, barriers that still allow light and air to pass through. I’d summarize the design I had in mind with the three words ‘balance,’ ‘blend,’ and ‘believe,’ expressing a balanced life, cause and effect, and faith.”

Single-Storey House / Teerachai Leesuraplanon

Single-Storey House / Teerachai Leesuraplanon

Standing in a rural field with a road in front, the house opens out on a rubber tree orchard in the rear.

Simplicity is the foundation of the design: a balance between vertical and horizontal lines and surfaces, no nooks or ridges to collect dust, and elemental materials such as concrete, wood, metal, brick, and gravel.

Single-Storey House

Single-Storey House / Teerachai Leesuraplanon

A metal frame lifts the roof at an angle to break the force of the wind. The floor is raised above the ground, facilitating maintenance work on utility systems beneath.

The front wall is a striking display of BPK brick, a local Ang Thong material, laid in a unique arrangement to create beautiful patterns of light and shade, with an additional layer of sliding glass windows for safety.

Around the house is laid a path of river gravel, so someone in the house can easily hear a person walking outside.

Single-Storey House / Teerachai Leesuraplanon

The big central living room is a great place to relax, but the real heart of this single-story house is the big porch.

When the folding doors are opened, the room opens up, and it’s much like an old-time Thai house, with the added benefit of a great view of the gorgeous rubber forest, just as the original design envisioned.

Single-Storey House / Teerachai Leesuraplanon


Owner: Chamnan Chatchawalyangkul

Architect: Teerachai Leesuraplanon


Visit the original Thai version of the article…

บ้านชั้นเดียวบนพื้นฐานความเรียบง่าย


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Huamark 09: A Concrete Block House Stands the Test of Time

Huamark 09: A Concrete Block House Stands the Test of Time

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

/ Story: foryeah! / English version: Peter Montalbano /

/ Photographs:  Nantiya /

Codenamed Huamark 09, this four-story home wrapped inside the concrete block envelope belongs to architect Intanon Chantip, aka “Non” of the INchan Atelier, a Bangkok-based architectural practice. It’s a design experiment aimed at testing several theories that he’d arrived at through intense study and experience. The architect wanted his concrete block home to tell its own story through changes in the looks of construction materials. Precisely, all the years that pass by will leave their trace of time as the house ages. It will be interesting to see how the building materials perform in the course of time.

Concrete Block House
The concrete block home resembles four big boxes stacked one on top of the other. The fence that protects the first floor of the house is painted a cool-toned white that contrasts with bare walls on Levels 2, 3 and 4 intentionally left exposed to blend with other houses in the neighborhood.

Not that long ago, Non and his wife Tharisra Chantip, aka Ploy, bought this 80-square-wah property (320 square meters) in Hua Mark District on the outskirts of Bangkok. They had the old 30-year-old house demolished to make room for a new four-story concrete home integrating office, art studio and residential spaces to form a coherent whole.

The building external envelope is built of concrete blocks without plaster. It’s left uncovered on purpose so as to blend with everything else in the neighborhood. All together the usable space comes to 490 square meters.

Concrete Block House
Like everything else, the principal face of the house is intentionally of cement blocks, which collect dust and dirt as they change color with the seasons. Outer metal grating lets climbing vines grow naturally reaching for sunlight.

The homeowner couple divided the property into northern and southern sections. They raised the property slightly higher from ground level to put in a garden to the north, then a rectangular building to the south.

The building’s long side runs east-west to block prevailing winds and allow openings to control sunlight and breeze streaming into the home.

The house’s four-meter width is comparable to most row houses in the area. Each side has double walls that work simultaneously for ventilation and heat insulation. Door and window openings reinforce the concrete block house’s primary relationship to weather conditions, wind, and sun.

On the south side are fewer openings because of a staircase, while north and east sides have balconies and various service areas reaching around to the west side, which also has the double walls characteristic of the building’s overall design.

Concrete Block House

Concrete Block House

Concrete Block House

The four levels are divided according to function. The architects’ offices are primarily in two first floor rooms: a larger one with a long work table for working in teams and a smaller one that serves as meeting room and library.

The second floor is a private residential area, with a living room connecting to kitchen and dining area.

Concrete Block House

Concrete Block House

Concrete Block House

Concrete Block House

The third floor contains one bedroom for Non and Ploy and another for Non’s mother. The two are connected with a shared bathroom.

The fourth floor is a studio for creative work and enjoyment. It’s designed with a view to high flexibility of function in expectation of anticipated future changes as little members of the household gradually grow up.

Concrete Block House

Concrete Block House

Concrete Block House

Concrete Block House

Concrete Block House

Concrete Block House

Concrete Block House


Architect: INchan atelier


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7-Story Ivy-Covered Home with a Green Façade

7-Story Ivy-Covered Home with a Green Façade

/ Bangkok, Thailand /
/ Story: Ath Prapunwattana / Photograph: Rithirong Chanthongsuk /

This 7-storey concrete house, blanketed with a refreshing green façade, has angles everywhere, with one especially remarkable section dominated by slanting red posts and beams.

 

Chatrawichai Phromthattawethi, interior decorator and owner of the company “Pro Space,” lived in a two-storey building for 15 years before finding it too small and building a new place on a nearby property. On that limited space he built upwards rather than out, in fact seven storeys up.

“Designing, we weren’t thinking primarily about style, but utility. The space was narrow, so we built tall.

“Then with a 4-storey townhouse next door we figured an ordinary building would seem too cramped, so we made the building structure visible: posts, beams and deep spaces into open walls creating dimensions of light and shade, adding panache with one section of oddly slanting posts painted red, set off with flowers here and there.”

Angular concrete building animated by the refreshing green of a quick-growing ivy.
Spiral stair where people can come into the office on business without entering the house.
Roof deck: garden spot with swimming pool, an outdoor living room.

Even closed in next to a small street, Chatrawichai’s design still provides nearly 1,000 square meters of usable space.

“Depending on use, each floor has a different height.

“The ground floor, with garage and kitchen, is moderately tall. The second floor is an office, and the third holds the butler & maid’s room, all normal height. We use the fourth floor for entertaining, so it’s spacious, with a higher ceiling than the others.

“The fifth floor has a guest bedroom and storage space, the sixth is my bedroom, and the seventh floor holds a living room and dining room set at different levels according to usage; the living room has a higher ceiling. On the roof is a deck, swimming pool, and garden.”

Chatrawichai agrees that this is an unusual design for him, with its red exterior posts at odd angles and interior ceilings displaying working utility systems, plus use of unusual materials such as metallic structural highlights in certain spots, creating a much different residential feeling than before and incidentally requiring a lot of detailed work during construction.

For the interior, furniture and décor mostly come from the old house, a mix of many styles – modern, classic, and antique – matched with exceptional taste because the colors were chosen in advance, primarily framed in a context of gray and black.

Colorful ornaments such as cloth or bright pictures hung on the wall add vitality.

“Coming from a two-storey house, at first living here took some getting used to. It was a tall building with the green façade, but definitely no condo; how to live in such a place? In the end, though, we found it wasn’t all that different,” Chatrawichai adds.


Design: Pro Space Co.,Ltd. by Chatvichai Phromthattadhevi


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Modern Tropical House in Ho Chi Minh City

 

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A Modern Breeze Blocks Home in Ho Chi Minh City

A Modern Breeze Blocks Home in Ho Chi Minh City

      / Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam /

/ Story: Wuthikorn Sut / English version: Peter Montalbano /

/ Photographs: Tanakitt Khum-on /

The architecture of this Modern Breeze Blocks home in Ho Chi Minh City is perfectly suited to the hot, humid climate, with an imaginative counterpoint of plants, greenery, and airy openings keeping it shady and pleasant inside and out.

Modern Breeze Blocks home in Ho Chi Minh City

Shunri Nishizawa, architect and owner of this 5-story row house, designed the Nishizawa Architects office into the basement. Floors 1-3 are rented to a Vietnamese family with a bedroom and dining room on the first floor, living room on the second, and more bedrooms on the third. The Nishizawa family itself has its living room on the fourth floor and bedrooms on the fifth.

Levels from the basement up to the fifth floor alternate between open and closed design, according to their use. Catching sunshine and natural breezes, the second- and fourth-story balconies are edged with small gardens.

This makes the tall building less constricted while allowing for easy air circulation from the front through to the back. Alternating levels extend out from the building’s frame, with the floors above shading the ones below.

Modern Breeze Blocks home in Ho Chi Minh City
Sun diversion screens: the design comes from the hollow brick concept, but uses larger units, so the breeze enters more deeply and freely while keeping intense sun and rain from indoor areas.
Modern Breeze Blocks home in Ho Chi Minh City
A spiral staircase provides access to the second floor.
Modern Breeze Blocks home in Ho Chi Minh City
A comfortable work environment at the office of Nishizawa Architects.

The small gardens not only make residents feel relaxed, but also filter out intense light and cool the breezes blowing through. The second and fourth floors feature concrete ceilings sculpted with curves rather than the harsh lines found inside most buildings. This makes the light more diffuse in the interior, creating the relaxing perception of being in a natural stone cave.

Modern Breeze Blocks home in Ho Chi Minh City

Modern Breeze Blocks home in Ho Chi Minh City

Modern Breeze Blocks home in Ho Chi Minh City

Shunri says, “This house shows a true combination of ‘tropical’ and ‘modern’ architectural design coming from understanding traditional living patterns in this hot, humid Vietnamese climate as well as how to set things up perfectly for contemporary life.

“It’s safe and secure living with modern comforts such as air conditioning, yet still answers our need to be close to nature, with sunlight, breezes, and open spaces connecting to garden and plants right here in the house.”

Modern Breeze Blocks home in Ho Chi Minh City

Modern Breeze Blocks home in Ho Chi Minh City

The overall design can be adapted to many different functions. Shunri draws on his experience growing up with multipurpose spaces common in Japanese homes. Areas such as the living room are strategically partitioned to block direct light and view, simultaneously giving privacy and an open feeling.

Hollow blocks, a popular Vietnamese building material, inspired the design. They provide shade, aid circulation and effectively protect against sun and rainstorm.

More than just comfortable living, this house offers a charming blend of nature and architecture ensconced in an oasis of calm right in the middle of Ho Chi Minh City.

This breeze blocks Tropical house is actually much better described as a “house and garden” than simply a “building.”

Modern Breeze Blocks home in Ho Chi Minh City

 


Architect: Nishizawa Architects


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A Gorgeous White Brick House in Ampang Jaya, Malaysia

A Gorgeous White Brick House in Ampang Jaya, Malaysia

/ Ampang Jaya, Malaysia /

/ Story: Skiixy / English version: Peter Montalbano /

/ Photographs: Rithirong Chanthongsuk /

This beautiful brick house belongs to a family of four in Ampang Jaya, a town to the east of Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur. The design work and use of materials such as bamboo and old brick taken from a pre-WWII colonial-style house make it special.

Ampang Jaya

Childhood memories are fragments of the past that many of us can bring back to life. In her childhood, Mrs. Liew Jun Keong was entranced by house design. And in conversation with Studio Bikin’s architect Ms. Farah Azizan, her memories bubbled out, creating a happy chemistry of inspiration between the homeowner and the architect, with the end result of this gorgeous white brick house.

The kitchen counter with large pressed bamboo cylinder mortared in place and smoothed with a trowel.

Mrs. Liew said, “At first, I just had the thought I liked houses with a resort atmosphere and the sort of peace and quiet we used to find on holiday to Bali, Bangkok, or Singapore, experiencing nature in a more original state.

“Then I thought of the house we lived in then, in an area with a lot of unfinished concrete surfaces, and so told the designer I’d like a modern-style concrete house, but with plants and trees all around.

“By modern, I didn’t mean perfect, but featuring the natural surfaces of construction materials that have their own types of beauty.”

Ampang Jaya
The reception parlor with dark wood furniture and vintage cloth coverings in muted tones of blue and gray.
Ampang Jaya
[Left] In the back of the house is a place to take a nap. [Right] The kitchen connects back to that nap space. Wood latticework helps with ventilation.
A Chinese devotional altar room
The master bathroom

After a good talk, the architect and the homeowner found their ideas really resonated with each other. Ms. Azizan also had pleasant surprises for Mrs. Liew. She came up with the materials handpicked specifically for this house.

“I was really impressed with Farah’s detailed choice of materials. I tend to think of the normal uses for bamboo, for instance, as for pipes, but she used it as a decorative façade for the house,” said Mrs Liew.

“Next, it was this batch of white brick, which has an extraordinary history, coming from the demolition of a colonial-style residence built before World War II.

“The brick had no coloring when she bought it. We were lucky to get this brick, as it was the first batch. Others looking at this may first notice it has blemishes or that the sizes are irregular, but it’s iconic material for that period, with a great value, and absolutely perfect for our family.”

The entire house is painted white, except for sections of bare cement. There isn’t a lot of interior furnishing and decoration, and furniture is limited to what is necessary.

Mrs. Liew values simplicity and doesn’t care for fancy interior décor. She said that she hadn’t yet found decorative work with the kind of natural beauty she cared for.

The homeowner added enthusiastically: “I’d never dreamed of living in a place where sunlight reached into the center of the house, which is something I now really appreciate.

“And the bricks used in the construction have blemishes, but each imperfection somehow adds to the perfection of the whole.”

Ampang Jaya

 


Owner: Mrs. Liew Jun Keong

Designer: Studio Bikin by Ms. Farah Azizan


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