Blog : Contemporary House

Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition

Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition

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.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Patsiri Chotpongsun // Photography: Anupong Chaisukkasem 

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.

Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition

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.”

Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition

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.

Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition

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.” 

Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local TraditionContemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition

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.

Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition Contemporary Thai House Enhanced with Local Tradition

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.

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“The design is about disposing the home plan around a central  courtyard.  This way the problem of a lack of natural daylight  in the interior is solved.  It immediately freshens up the room  and makes it comfortable for everyone, especially older  members of the household.”

A wood deck is designed to take in the view of the courtyard landscape. Like a must-have in any design, a healthy, lush lawn serves as the yard’s focal point. The grass lawn is uncluttered and easy to keep clean like those on the golf course. Underneath it, a drainage system is in place to carry off excess water, thereby preventing flooding in case of rains and getting rid of mosquito breeding grounds. From this angle, the rectangular-shaped inner courtyard can be seen enclosed by a walkway system that connects everything on the property.
A set of stairs leads to the entrance of the building. Nearby, a ramp is put in place as part of a preparation for possible future events should a wheelchair be needed. Only a short distance away, an Indian cork tree (Millingtonia hortensis) thrives in a round container. It has since grown through the skylight that’s purposely built to brighten a nearby carport during daytime hours.

The Swiss chalet-style building had been a family home for more than thirty years. Eventually it was in need of repair and restoration. The Panikabutra family gave serious thought to renovating and returning their two-story wooden home to its original condition. All things considered and when a decision had to be made, the homeowners thought it wise to have it demolished to make room for a new home. Reclaimed wood from the old house was prepared for reuse in a new single-level building designed for mother, Khunying Pannang Panikabutra. Her daughter, Thapanant Suwittayalangkarn, shared the story behind it.

“Old wood taken from the house that Dad built a long time  ago was still in very good condition. It was considered so valuable.  Besides that, it was legal as timber prepared for use in building.  Dad always insisted on the legality of things. Generally, it was  beautiful reclaimed wood. There was some of it that had fallen into decay and new materials had to be purchased including old house  poles.” The new home plan is arranged around a central courtyard with a beautiful lawn as its main attraction. It’s a great way to frame a view since every room opens to the lush, refreshing garden landscape. This is especially true where the main hall and dining room connect to a wood deck with furniture, a perfect setting for relaxing outdoor living spaces. The design is about disposing the home plan around a central courtyard. This way the problem of a lack of natural daylight in the interior is solved. It immediately freshens up the room and makes it comfortable for everyone, especially older members of the household. Free from being observed by other people, the house’s five bedrooms have their place and private facilities around the courtyard garden. The building being raised on piles at least a meter from the street level is a decided plus. The rooms are clean and uncluttered thanks to the under-floor space being used for utility systems. Meantime, preparations are put in place to take good care of the elderly parent. Sharing her thought, Thapanant said:

“From our experience before Dad passed away, the old two- level home proved inconvenient since we were responsible for  taking care of people in poor health. The safety precaution already  in place wasn’t good enough. When we decided in favor of building a new house, my brother looked into every design detail. We put in a garden walkway around the courtyard with direct access to  Mom’s room. That was our idea of making space available for  mobility exercises. Everyone felt secure now that, to protect against  slips and falls, all the rooms were set at the same level including the bathroom floor. We also put in a ramp linking the house to the  carport to be ready should a wheelchair be required in future.”

The reception room boasts large opening glass doors overlooking the central courtyard. At the further end, two doors with matching transom windows add a light and airy feel to the atmosphere. In the middle of the room, despite its rather formal appearance, a vintage-style waiting room sofa in dark hues seamlessly fits into the décor.
The dining room and nearby sitting parlor get a good view of the inner courtyard, thanks to large opening doors that stand tall from floor to ceiling. Soft hues on the sofa upholstery creates a calm and serene atmosphere to make one feel more relaxed. It’s easy to get why this area has become the family’s favorite hangout.
The walkway around the courtyard is roofed over with translucent sheeting to shield it from sunlight and rains. The rafters and roof battens are made of reclaimed wood from the old house, while the posts are erected on cement foundations to protect against humidity damage. The passageway surface is covered in a mixture of small stones to prevent water splashing in case of rain.
An open space between walls offer room for a shady tree, while wood lattice fencing serves as engine that drives natural air circulation. Together,
they create a spectacular light and shadow play that’s constantly changing with time.

The bedroom offers a relaxed corner for leisure activity, such as drawing and playing music.
Mom and daughter relax together in a sitting area around the courtyard.
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/// Thailand / Vietnam / Japan /// 





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