Blog : countryside

The Park: A Grass-Roof Community Center Shimmers in the Night

The Park: A Grass-Roof Community Center Shimmers in the Night

/ Nghe An, Vietnam /

/ Story: Ektida N. / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Trieu Chien /

Like the green roofs in times past, a quintet of community center buildings stands sentinel over the rice fields in Vinh, a small farming town in Vietnam’s Nghe An Province. Officially named “The Park” it looks out over a calm and peaceful lake and, beyond, long lines of mountains and hillsides can be seen from miles around.

the park

No doubt, the heavenly morning mist and respect for nature combine to give a team of architects the inspiration they need going forward. The Park is the brainchild of the MIA Design Studio, an architectural firm based in Ho Chi Minh City. And the end result is a delightful a group of public space buildings that blends perfectly into the natural environment.

the park

the park

Technically speaking, it’s a design that takes into account the circumstances that form the setting of the area. And that’s exactly the quality that puts the small town’s community center in a class of its own. The five-building civic center is a great addition to the neighborhood. Among other things, it attracts townspeople, provides community services, and promote community fitness.

A three-stage diagrammatic representation shows a quintet of civic center buildings placed along different imaginary lines to take in different views of surrounding landscapes. / Courtesy of MIA Design Studio
A diagrammatic representation illustrates the location of the civic center quintet in relation to the waterfront. / Courtesy of MIA Design Studio

Their waterfront facades afford a view of the lake surrounded by lush green paddies and mountain ranges to the far side. The exterior walls are built of engineered wood textured and stained to look like real timber set at intervals to allow natural light and fresh outdoor air into the interior.

Designed to merge into surrounding landscapes, the principal facades overlooking the road in front lie hidden under grass roofs set at an angle of 45 degrees gently rising from the ground up to culminate at the apexes.

the park

The five buildings are symmetrical solids set on different axes to take in different views of the calm and peaceful countryside. They are connected with each other by a system of corridors, which in tern leads to a jetty at which boats come to dock and be moored. In a way that’s uncomplicated and easy to understand, each building serves its specific functions providing public services to people in the community.

the park
Openings in the external envelope allow light and fresh outdoor air into the interior, strategies that prevent it from becoming a stuffy, overcrowded space.
Like historic roofing making a comeback, the five buildings are roofed over with lush green lawns resembling grassy knolls overlooking the road in front. Shed roofs covered with earth and vegetation create a superior thermal mass that absorbs and transfer less heat from the sun into the interior.

On approaching the civic center, you only see what looks like a few grassy knolls gently rising to the summits that are the focal points of the design. It’s visual experience that excites the imagination and creates a good first impression on people passing by. For a warm and friendly atmosphere, the main entry area is flanked by a welcome building and a restaurant building linked by a hallway.  The other three buildings that lie a little further away contain a sauna, fitness center, and changing rooms plus other amenities, respectively, for privacy.

the park

With nature as the first priority, the architects chose only simple building materials for interior decorating. It falls into a line of thought that the beautiful view outside takes precedence over any other consideration. At the same time, it is built strong and capable of carrying and transferring loads down onto the foundations. The facades overlooking the lake are covered in frameworks of wooden bars with awnings built of composite wood to keep the sun and rain off the building faces.

the park
A fascinating array of lattices built of engineered wood is set at different angles to provide shade and create an aesthetic appeal to the over design.

Step inside, and you find the ceilings covered in engineered wood paneling. This material is chosen for its beautiful, authentic look that connects with the outdoors. The interior walls are covered in indoor tiles for a neat appearance, while the external envelope is adorned with faux wood lattices for a relaxing outdoor ambience.

the park
Because it’s a public green space, natural features take precedence here. They’re considered more important than other things. In essence, it’s designed to reap the full benefits of nature, be it lighting or ventilation. Plus, well-thought-out design reduces the need for electromechanical air condition, which saves big on electricity costs.
the park
Seen from the water, each building has its lakefront façade facing a different direction to take in a different angle of view of the waterscape. The principal face of the building is covered in frameworks of wooden bars with awnings to keep the sun and rain out.

Designed as a landmark easily seen from a distance, the quintet of civic center buildings is all aglow in the nighttime, thanks to an orchestra of electric lights shining through hundreds upon hundreds of small openings in wooden latticework. Like a chandelier shimmering in the dark of night, they create stunning reflections on water and an indelible impression on people going past this area.

Architect: MIA Design Studio (

Principal Architect: Nguyen Hoang Manh

Concept Design: Nguyen Hong Quan

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Lung Vai School: A Rammed Earth Schoolhouse Trio amid Mountains and Rice Terraces

Lung Vai School: A Rammed Earth Schoolhouse Trio amid Mountains and Rice Terraces

/ Ha Giang, Vietnam /

/ Story: Ektida N. / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Son Vu, Trieu Chien /

Lung Vai School stands in a small village and namesake located in the northernmost corner of Vietnam. Only 55 households of the Hmong tribe live in this mountainous terrain on the Vietnamese border with China. The natural environment is pristine, but it’s hard to get there from anywhere. Public utilities, such as water and electricity are virtually nonexistent, not to mention schoolhouses of standard sizes and qualities capable of meeting children’s learning need.

Lung Vai School Rammed Earth School
A trio of school buildings stand on a mountaintop. Circular roofs merge into the farmland vernacular and rugged terrain.

This school construction project was undertaken by AA Corporation, an interior design and furniture manufacturing industry in Vietnam. It cost 2 billion Vietnamese dongs to build, roughly 80,000 US dollars.

Its primary objective: bring educational opportunities to minority Hmong children. The schoolhouse complex performs a dual function as center of learning for kids and a venue for cultural activities in the area.

Lung Vai School Rammed Earth School

Lung Vai School Rammed Earth School

The project consists of three adjoining buildings situated a stone’s throw from the village on a mountaintop. It offers a breathtaking panorama of the landscape covered in the morning’s blue haze. The schoolhouses with circular roofs call to the mind an image of wild mushrooms shimmering in the sunlight amid a dewy meadow.

Lung Vai School Rammed Earth School

The trio includes one schoolhouse for the kindergarten, one for elementary school classrooms and the other housing the teacher’s office, plus other facilities such as bathrooms, kitchen and multifunctional spaces supporting school activities. The schoolhouse project covers 250 square meters of land, perfectly adequate for the student populations at Lung Vai and neighboring villages.

From afar, the curved roof buildings prove a perfect complement to their natural surroundings. They are put together in a way that the roof of one building overlaps another to create coherence in architecture.

It’s a passive design strategy that goes to work facilitating the traffic between rooms, keeping the schoolhouses in shade and driving natural air circulation all day long. Like so, nothing disrupts the workings of mother nature.

In cross section, a side elevation drawing shows spatial relationships between rooms and how rainwater is harvested and carried to an underground storage tank.

In terms of the language of architecture, there is a distinct synchronization of smoothly drawn curves that twist and turn as they converge at the mountaintop. All the elements of design blend together into a cohesive whole.

Lung Vai School Rammed Earth School

There is wisdom in challenges. Because the project is tucked away in a remote location, transportation is difficult to put it mildly. It was a dilemma that tested the ability of the design team at 1+1>2 Architects. And yet they rose to the challenge by successfully completing the project in only six months.

The secret to a mission accomplished lies in using building techniques and materials readily available in the area in perfect proportions, in particular rammed earth construction.

Lung Vai School Rammed Earth School

Building with rammed earth or mud brick brings many benefits. It’s friendly to the environment and capable of reducing the ambient temperatures. Plus, it’s durable even in extreme weather conditions.

Pleasant to look at, a mixture of sand, clay and other ingredients gives a rich warm color of earth hues that allows the schoolhouses to blend perfectly into the natural world around it.

Lung Vai School Rammed Earth School
A clever hack to brighten the hallway, the void of space between the top of rammed earth walls and roof trusses is filled with transparent polycarbonate boards.

Rammed earth walls are capable of supporting the loads applied to them up to a certain limit. For strength and durability, the schoolhouses also contain parts made of other materials, such as steel framing supporting roof trusses.

Steel is chosen for speed of construction and overall robustness, especially where the distance between columns increases. Plus, it’s perfect for building a great variety of roof shapes and styles.

Lung Vai School Rammed Earth School

Lung Vai School Rammed Earth School

Large windows and generous wall openings above rammed earth walls allow natural daylight and cool breezes into the interior.

Taking everything into account, it’s design that pays attention to detail in facilitating indoor traffic flows and interactions between rooms. This is evident in there being four entry areas conveniently linked to stairs and ramps leading from one floor to the other, as well as the internal traffic routes connecting all the rooms.

Lung Vai School Rammed Earth School

Lung Vai School Rammed Earth School

The schoolhouse floor is raised slightly higher from natural ground level, adding visual interest to design. The hallway leading to classrooms is built wider than average to provide space for built-in bench seating on the side. And there’s still plenty of room left.

Other useful architectural features include the extended roof overhangs that keep the classrooms cool in the summer and dry in the rainy season. Priceless!

Lung Vai School Rammed Earth School

Lung Vai School Rammed Earth School

Architect: 1+1>2 Architects (

Lead Architects: KTS Hoang Thuc Hao, KTS Tran Hong Nam, KTS Nguyen Hanh Le

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A Wooden House amid the Enchantment of Lush Coconut Groves

A Wooden House amid the Enchantment of Lush Coconut Groves

/ Ratchaburi, Thailand /

/ Story: Patsiri / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul / Styling: Worawat /

This wooden house among the trees is literally a breath of fresh air. It’s situated in Damnoen Saduak, a district of Ratchaburi made famous by abundant fruit farms and a vibrant river market. Here, the secrets to peaceful, comfortable living lies in a healthy ecosystem that provides a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Reclaimed timber adapted for new use gives it a rustic feel. The house is built mostly of old wood recycled from much older homes. It stands canopied by overhanging trees alongside water channels for crop irrigation. Together they act as engine that drives natural ventilation keeping the home nice and cool all year round. With a house like this, who needs air conditioning?

wooden house
A pleasing vista of the quaint wooden house on stilts seen through the lush foliage of thriving coconut trees on the property.

Since its heyday in the mid-1900s, the Damnoen Saduak Canal has served as a major route for water transport in this part of Ratchaburi. Traditionally, wooden homes were built mostly at the water’s edge, while properties lying further inland were used for agriculture.

This 7-Rai piece of land (a little shy of 3 acres) has been home to thriving fruit orchards for several decades. The wooden house now in the hands of the family’s fourth generation was recently restored to all its former glory. In the process, small portions of the water channels were filled in to make room for a new contemporary home.

wooden house

Originally, the family had planned to turn it into a small one-bedroom home. But after a consult with the architectural firm Studio Miti, they were convinced that house-on-stilts design, something slightly bigger, was the only way forward.

The decision in favor of a stilt home was a prudent thing to do since the area has experienced flooding in the past. By using tall timber posts and beams, they were able to create a 112-square-meter home plan with double height ceilings.

The hardwood floor is elevated on concrete poles for stability and good ventilation in the lower space under the house. At the same time, weathered wood adds the rough texture and rustic feel to the overall superstructure.

This is especially true for the external envelope built of a captivating mix of reclaimed timber. The list includes Praduak (scientific name: Pterocarpus soyauxii) which is preferred for its bright reddish orange color, Mai Daeng or Ironwood (Xylia xylocarpa), and Mai Yang (Dipterocarpus alatus), which is light brown in color.

Nothing goes to waste. Where appropriate, shorter wall planks are used to add warmth and charm to interior living spaces.

wooden house

Taken as a whole, it’s an open-concept house plan that’s just right for a small family’s lifestyle needs. The home is parred down and simple with no unnecessary features.

There is no guest reception area in the true sense of Western residential design. Instead, what is lacking is compensated for by a roomy communal space with a good-sized wooden table in the middle of the room. It fulfills multiple functions as a living room, dining room and space for relaxation and interactions within the family.

wooden house wooden house

For practical reasons, the kitchen formerly at the rear of the house has been moved to the open lower floor that’s made suitable for traditional Thai cooking. It’s an easy hack to get rid of food smells fast.

Only a pantry with necessary food, dishes and utensils are kept upstairs, where the focus is more on making light meals, coffee and other beverages. It’s separated from the living area by roll-away partitions that can open to circulate air when needed.

The wooden house has two bedrooms made especially relaxing by a monochromatic color scheme. A nexus between old-world charm and a calm, clutter-free life, each room has a mattress on a wooden platform canopied by a fine net to keep mosquitoes away. They are so well-ventilated that there’s no need for air conditioning.

Wood offers many benefits as a building material. It doesn’t reflect or store heat very well, which results in hardwood floors not getting much hot in summer. This makes it comfortable to spend daylight hours in the shady space on the ground floor.

When evening comes, a gentle wind helps cool the home down even further. Otherwise, simple fans will do the trick. Outside, a canopy of overhanging trees and water channels make the home environment calm and peaceful. Come rain or come shine, roof eaves with extended overhangs protect the interior from the elements.

Beautiful House on Stilts in a Coconut Grove

Bottom line. It’s a design that make economic sense. As timber prices continue on the rise, the cost of building a home also increases at an alarming rate. Here, though, the architect is able to overcome the limited budget and deliver on his promise.

The result is a contemporary design that relates to its intended function and purpose — an intimate little wooden house amid the enchantment of lush coconut groves.

wooden house

Owner: Veerapus and Nuthapak Thamrongrojanabhat

Architect: Studio Miti

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Villa Sati: A Country Retreat Breathes in the Energy of Nature

Villa Sati: A Country Retreat Breathes in the Energy of Nature


/ Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand /

/ Story: Samutcha Viraporn / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul /

Here’s an intimate country villa peacefully nestled in the wooded hills of Nakhon Ratchasima. The big mountains of Khao Yai National Park that’s a UNESCO World Heritage site can be seen from miles around. The house that merges into countryside vernacular offers an unbroken view of sugarcane fields and, beyond, the scenic beauty of islands in the sky. 

The breezy and bright house in the fields belongs to Thanachai Ujjin, aka Pod, lead singer/song writer for the Moderndog band. To him this means everything. It’s a place to live al fresco and enjoy the benefits of fresh air and sunshine away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

His favorite hangout is a gallery along the side of the house, where he likes to sit under moonlight at 2 in the morning. Precisely, nature is on his doorstep.

The house plan is symbolic of modern Tropical architecture. It’s spacious, calm and uncluttered. Here, the atmosphere is so peaceful that Thanachai himself likens it to that of a far away temple. It’s the brainchild of Nattapak Phatanapromchai, of Erix Design Concepts Co., Ltd, an architectural practice based in Bangkok.

Pod Moderndog Thanachai Ujjin country hideaway Khaoyai National Park Country Villa

The minimalist place of abode is aptly named “Villa Sati”, or the House of Consciousness, so as to communicate the state of being fully awake and aware of oneself and one’s surroundings. Shining under the moonlight and starry skies, it has a spacious gallery along the outside of the house that’s perfect for walking meditation, which the artist and his Mom often do together.

Sharing his little piece of paradise, Thanachai 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

As one would expect, their country retreat is made for peaceful, simple living. Here, the artist and his Mom have plenty of time for their favorite pastimes – make art. And the house plan is thoughtfully devised to do exactly that.

Seen from a distance, gable roof design proves a perfect complement to the loggia along the outside of the building overlooking the garden. Elsewhere, gorgeous open-concept floor plans 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

Walk in the door, and you find the stand-alone Butterfly Stool, a 1954 icon of Japanese industrial design by Sori Yanagi. A short distance away, a minimalist bedroom looks out over the sugarcane fields stretching as far as the eye can see. Straight ahead is a kitchenette that connects to a living area large enough for several purposes.

For lighting and good ventilation, a set of stairs next to dark clapboard siding has no risers between the treads. It provides access 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

To create a flexible interior space, movable furniture comes in handy to establish zones and enhance traffic flow in the home. 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 said the gallery along the outside of the house affords a beautiful panorama of the lush mountain landscape.

At the same time, large openings in the walls allow fresh air to enter, creating air flow and bringing down ambient temperatures to the point there’s no need for air conditioning.  Plus, the gable roof with extended overhangs effectively protects the gallery along the outside from sun and rain.

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

To add rustic charm to the home, the architect did away with the fascia, or the wooden boards covering the far ends of roof rafters. It’s a technique to highlight the framework supporting the roof as is often the case with the Thai style of residential architecture.

At the same time, wood shingles covering the roof are made beautiful by special paint for a real custom effect, while cement board 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

The building’s structural 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 truss. For a neat appearance, the side posts of every doorway and glass wall frame perfectly align with gable-end studs. The result is a beautiful country villa 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

For strength and durability, 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 serves as load-bearing foundations.

Technically speaking, the house-on-stilts design is ubiquitous across countries in the Tropical climate. It provides good ventilation under the floor, a brilliant way to keep the home cool all year round. By and large, it looks the epitome 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’s a kind of design that 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 of mine. The wide open spaces of the countryside are hugely rewarding for me as an artist.”

Architect: Nattapak Phatanapromchai of Erix Design Concepts

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Ahsa Farmstay: Relaxing Country Lifestyle

Ahsa Farmstay: Relaxing Country Lifestyle

/ Chiang Rai, Thailand /
/ Story: Samutcha Virapornd, BRL / Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul /

From time to time, it’s good to leave a hectic lifestyle behind. Escape to the countryside and enjoy life in the slow lane. Priceless! There’s nothing like staying close to nature and being surrounded by mountains and lush paddy fields. Do something you’ve never done before. You can be a part of a local community by getting involved in farm activities.

Collect freshly laid eggs from the chicken coop, pick mushrooms from the nursery, and get vegetables straight from the garden. Even cook your own meals using seasonal ingredients from the community. Or treat yourself to a chicken coop sauna amidst rice fields, a spa idea you never imagine.

There are plenty of reasons a farmstay is the perfect experience as you learn to live in a natural environment. Ahsa Farmstay is offering tourists a chance to stay overnight on a working farm. It’s a place to be happy and have fun as you interact with people in the community and learn about their heritage and culture of farming.

Modern Vernacular Homes

From Chiang Rai, head north towards Doi Mae Salong. About halfway there, you come into Mae Chan District. Ahsa Farmstay is located on 85 Rai (33.6 acres) of land, surrounded by views of the rolling terrain, fertile grounds and lush plains.

The luxuriant vegetation encompassing the farmhouse makes the atmosphere calm and relaxing. The property owners have spared no effort in making sure visitors are happy physically and mentally as they gain an understanding of local culture and the beauty of traditional Lanna architecture.

Modern Vernacular Homes

Ahsa Farmstay is the work of Creative Crews, an architectural design firm passionate about traditional Lanna architecture.

By looking at the northern heritage from a different perspective, they are able to create a home that’s modern in style and functions. This is achieved by reducing design detail and embracing the traditional principles of form and layout. The result is a home that combines privacy, comfort and convenience.

Ahsa Farmstay consists of four buildings. The property owners’ home sits at the center of the rectangular floor plan flanked by two-story buildings that provide guest accommodations on the left and right wings. There are four guest rooms in all. A pavilion that’s up front by the entrance provides a place to unwind and relax, and room for activities.

Modern Vernacular Homes
Typical of house-on-stilts design, the underfloor space serves as open dining room with a kitchen hidden from view in the background. It’s equipped with stoves and facilities for food preparation. For visitors keen to experience truly country style meals, there’s a barbecue grill for cooking food out of doors.
Modern Vernacular Homes
The lodging house offers two guest rooms, one on each floor. To prevent humidity damage, the room on the ground floor is built of brick with cement plaster. The exterior is painted earth tones to blend in with its natural surroundings.

Im, who oversees Ahsa Farmstay, says the design concept is inspired by a desire to be a part of the local community.

“This is the first phase of an ongoing experiment. The farm owners are a family that resides in this community. By living on the property, they are on hand to take care of their guests at all times. Determined to preserve their way of life, they prefer not to travel some distance to work in the city. And that’s what gives rise to the farmstay project.

“We have good relationships with the community and hire local carpenters to build. They are rare these days, but we find some in the neighborhood.

“For quality assurance, they work under our supervision. The project is built almost entirely of wood recycled from old houses. Our architects take the time to do it right. They go through each and every piece and handpick only the ones that meet specified construction standards.”

An architect on the team added, “Reclaimed wood is the main building material because it can be sourced directly from the community.

“It comes in handy since some villagers are willing to sell it as reusable material. In the end, it’s about finding a new use for old wood and adapting it to serve new purposes. Once the villagers see that we can do it well, they adopt the idea and technique to better suit their construction needs.

“In the end, it adds up to the continuation of cultural heritage and preservation of traditional Lanna architecture by passing on the skill and knowledge to young people in the community.”

Besides old wood, the team is able to put other recyclable materials to good use. They include concrete roof shingles that are rare nowadays. They are made the old-fashioned way using the pedal-powered pottery wheel. Also known as the kick wheel, it’s an ancient manufacturing technique that has been passed on in the local community.

To prevent leaks, the roof is covered by two layers of shingles. The weathered concrete look is beautiful. That’s not all. Ahsa Farmstay is also decorated with items of handicrafts and furniture sourced directly from the community.

Modern Vernacular Homes Modern Vernacular Homes Modern Vernacular Homes

All things considered, the atmosphere is warm and inviting. It gives other families in the neighborhood some idea of how they can offer a form of hospitality and lodging where guests can stay overnight at the home of locals and learn about their culture.

It’s an opportunity to play host, cook food and share their lifestyle and culture. Like so, Ahsa Farmstay is planning on providing more guest rooms as demand for cultural tourism increases.

And it works both ways. New lodgings will be built by local carpenters, which in turn generates supplemental incomes for the local community. In the big picture, it amounts to promoting a kind of tourism intended to support the conservation of cultural heritage, skill and knowledge in the community.

The designer wraps it up nicely:

“It’s important that visitors refrain from causing changes in the community’s way of life. More than anything else, the farmstay provides the opportunity of learning something new about rural culture.

“Visitors are welcome to join in the daily activities of locals. Architecture has a role to play in the betterment of society. The homes built by locals not only promote cultural tourism but also contribute to efforts at sustainable development in the area.”

By looking at old Lanna architecture from a new perspective, a design team is able to create a home that’s up-to-date in style and functions. This is achieved by reducing design detail and embracing the traditional principles of form and layout.

The result is a home that combines privacy, comfort and convenience.

Modern Vernacular Homes
The second-floor unit has a bed at the center. The room is enclosed by wood paneling that slides open to get a view of the natural landscape and slides shut for privacy.

Modern Vernacular Homes

This story is from Modern Vernacular Homes Special Issue: Happiness Matters. (Available here in Thai and English)


Modern Vernacular Homes
Ahsa Farmstay is one of the 13 Special Homes from the Modern Vernacular Homes: Happiness Matters Issue, Thai and English version by the Baan Lae Suan Team. The issue is available now! If you are interested, please contact us. >>

Ahsa Farmstay is located on Soi Wat Mae Salong,

Soi 1, Mae Salong Village, Tambon Pa-sang,
Mae Chan District, Chiang Rai Province.
Tel: 09-7248-4674

Architect: Creative Crews

Structural Engineer: WOR Consultant

Mechanical Engineer: EXM Consultant

Handicrafts: Bundanjai

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A Fascinating One-Day Trip to Tanjung Sepat

A Fascinating One-Day Trip to Tanjung Sepat

/ Tanjung Sepat, Malaysia /

/ Story & Photograph: Samutcha Viraporn /

A sleepy little town has emerged as one of the most visited destinations in Malaysia. Tanjung Sepat is located a good 100 kilometers from Kuala Lumpur. The drive along the two-lane road passing lots of quaint small towns is pleasant and enjoyable. Let’s go!


A self-guided sightseeing tour is a great way to spend a day in Tanjung Sepat. The small fishing town in Kuala Langat in Selangor is named after a type of fish called Sepat.

The cape town is perfect for a day trip getaway from the city. There is so much to see and do there. Most visitors do not stay since it is only an hour plus drive from the city center. If one does wish to stay a night, there are a handful of small motels available.

It is recommended that one starts the day there early to catch a popular eatery named YiKee Seafood Bak Kut Teh. In fact, the eatery starts their food service as early as 7.30 a.m. and usually runs out of food by 10 a.m. It’s not just a tourist haunt, but many locals also flock there for a piping hot clay pot of herbal soup filled to the brim with meat and seafood.

After breakfast, take a leisure stroll through the main morning market just to check what they offer.

Then it’s off to catch some fishing docks in action, or simply head over to the farms to walk off the heavy meal. If you’ve missed the fishing boats coming in, you can still head over to some of the shops where they process the fish into fish products.

Thong Hsing Trading is located nearby the seafood bak kut teh eatery in one of the small lanes.

The fish ball factory is run in the vicinity of the owner’s home. If you’re early enough, you can catch them making fish balls and other fish products from scratch. Processing machines separate the flesh of the fish from the bones. One can buy all sorts of fish products here from fish balls to fish cakes, stuff fish paste and more.

There is also another popular place to buy or catch more fish products. And that is at the Yek Loong Enterprise fish ball factory located in a small shop lot near the main market.

Though the machines have taken over some of the more tedious work, there are still lots of work to be done by hands only and that includes this lady stuffing fish paste onto thin bean curd sheets to make Fu Chuk.

Though there are lots of farms to visit such as dragon fruit farm, longan farm and more, we opted for some cool places such as the Ganofarm.

Ganofarm is a mushroom research company that cultivates varieties of mushrooms for sale. One can catch quite a few common mushrooms they farmed there, such as Ling Zhi, Oyster, Abalone, Monkey Head and more.

Behind Ganofarm, there is a lovely area with a bridge to visit! One can actually walk out to the sea and take some great photos there, too. It is a lovely day; hence the sky is gorgeous as it meets the horizon of the sea.

There used to be another more popular bridge named the “Lover’s Bridge,” but that was taken down since it had collapsed earlier last year.

Near the bridge site, there are quite a few seafood restaurants that many flock to till today for seafood. A popular gift shop named Qing Ren Qiao Souvenir Shop sells lots local snacks and knick knacks.

There’re quite a few smaller pop up stalls selling food and drinks as well as sweets. This bicycle sells fried fish balls and other fish and dried seafood products that are yummy too.

For lunch, there are a few restaurants in the Lover’s Bridge vicinity, such as Ocean Seafood, Lover Bridge Tanjung Sepat, and Ban Joo Hin Seafood. Savor home cooked seafood dishes with a beautiful sea view.


After lunch, head over to Arowana Malayan Food Industries to catch some chips action. The factory produces a great variety of fried tapioca chips, vegetables chips, and more. You can catch the whole end-to-end process and buy bags of freshly fried chips.

The fascinating small town boasts many favorite local joints, where one can catch the makings of paus (fresh steamed stuffed buns) and even local coffee processing. Business has really taken off for Hai Yew Heng Pau as many locals and tourists flock there for fluffy steamed buns filled with pork, vegetables, peanut, red bean, and more.

Go early to order for takeaways as they do run out by afternoon, especially on the weekends. There is another place a few minutes away, too, for steamed paus named Mr. Black Hand-Made Pau that’s just as popular. Be ready to queue on weekends.

Near Hai Yew Heng Pau, there is also a coffee shop, Kwo Zha B Coffee. One can catch coffee beans being roasted fresh and grounded for sale. These are local strong coffee with a kick. There is another coffee place also a few lanes away named Joo Fa Trading.

After that, head over to Kuan Wellness Ecopark, an eco-friendly center where every one of all ages can benefit from a visit. The center has a collection of old classic cars all lined up for viewing.

The main center building focuses on the cultivation of bird nest. One can catch the tedious process, where many workers remove feather and dirt from the precious bird nest before it’s dried and packed for sale. Bird nest is said to have some health as well as beauty benefits.

Kuan Wellness Ecopark has a small animal sanctuary for fishes, rabbits, birds and even peacocks. For a small fee, one can enter the sanctuary that is also set with a nice landscape view of a windmill.

End your day with a beautiful stroll along the beaches to catch the sunset, or dine at one of the restaurants set along the sea with some of the freshest catch of the day.

Tanjung Sepat is truly a fascinating small town that warrants a lovely getaway from the city.