Blog : Modern Tropical House

Antonius Richard Rusli, RAD+ar: Integrating Nature with Design from the Perspective of Tropical Architecture

Antonius Richard Rusli, RAD+ar: Integrating Nature with Design from the Perspective of Tropical Architecture

/ Jakarta, Indonesia /

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

/ Photographs: Courtesy of RAD+ar /

For Antonius Richard Rusli, founder of the Jakarta-based designer group RAD+ar (Research Artistic Design + architecture), the totality of the circumstances and the Tropical climate characteristic of the Indonesian archipelago present both opportunities and challenges that test the abilities of architects, designers and thinkers. The group’s outstanding achievements, both completed and experimental, encompass a wide range of property developments design, from residential real estate, to offices, to café and restaurants, even mosques to name but a few. Interestingly, they share a set of common attributes that speak volumes for a determination to reconnect with the surroundings and harness the healing power of nature.

Hence, it’s no surprise that nature permeates through their design, forming in a distinctive element in everything they have accomplished. Yet, it’s incorporated precisely and delicately.

In a rich and subtle way, it reflects a belief that well-thought-out design is a must-have strategy needed to overcome the challenges. Plus, it comes from a vision that looks deep into nature for a possible course of action that bodes well for a sustainable future.

Here’s a glimpse into his biophilic design reconnecting people with the environment and nature through architecture. Antonius Richard Rusli is one of the distinguished guest speakers at the annual room x Living Asean Design Talk 2023.

This year’s conversation event is on the theme of “URBAN FUSION / RURAL FLOURISH: Interweaving Urban and Rural Designs.” It’s taking place at the room Showcase zone inside Baan Lae Suan Fair Midyear 2023 on Sunday August 6 at BITEC Bang Na, Bangkok, Thailand.

Antonius Richard


Q: First of all, how would you describe your work style compared to others in your professional circle?

A: Strictly speaking, I call our approach the Decentralization of Sustainable Architecture.

In this particular case, it’s about creating property planning well suited to the Tropical Developing Economy of Indonesia. It involves identifying potential in outlying areas that can be developed and blend harmoniously with the natural surroundings.

By devising a plan that’s fit for the context of a place and the ways of life of people in a community, we stand a good chance of making it a success.

Take for example small business enterprises, such as café and restaurants. To assess whether a design will perform as intended in real life, we start out with a prototype of the small business, much like those sustainable housing designs that can be built over and over by the private sector. That’s the way I see it.

Antonius Richard
Refraction House / Photographs: William Sutanto

Q: What’s your perspective on Tropical Architecture? Any thoughts on that?

A: To answer, let me call your attention to two premises set out to describe our approach to Tropical Architecture.

First, to some extent, it’s easy or perhaps the easiest to bring about sustainable living in the Tropical Belt environment.

For the most part, the Region only consists of a rainy season and a dry season. The differences in temperature extremes in the Tropics are not great, although water scarcity issues can happen from time to time.

We receive plenty of sunlight to illuminate the home during the daytime plus heat that comes with solar radiation. You put plants in the ground and they grow very well, thanks to the consistency in natural light and thermal energy that’s a gift from nature.

That being said, sustainable living in the Tropics can be achieved simply by creating well-thought-out design that’s fit for the context or the setting of a place.

Refraction House / Living spaces seeking reconnections with nature represent both the objective and design principles of the atelier RAD+ar of Indonesia. / Photographs: William Sutanto

Secondly, the Tropics and Subtropics are home to more than one-third of the world’s population. As to be expected, increases in the population have become a factor that impacts our ecosystems, not to mention the extraction of resources from the environment at a fast pace to the extent that it undermines the Earth’s ability to replenish.

Besides promoting sustainable living among the population, everyone can contribute his share of a joint effort at preventing environmental degradation.

Ironically, it’s easy to make sustainable living by being more sensitive to the environment. It’s also easy to choose not to do it. For us architects, it’s an opportunity to focus on carefully thought-out design that’s suitable for the circumstances.

The key to success lies in research to identify architectural design strategies that work in the context of a location. At RAD+ar, we do our part by building a prototype of the project and putting it to the test in real-life situations. In the end, a design that’s right for a place will give us the inspiration we need going forward.

Antonius Richard
Bioclimatic Community Mosque of Pamulang / Photographs: William Sutanto

Q: As an architect, what are the things you want to do to bring about positive change in urban and rural developments.

A: In the short term, we will focus on furthering the progress of the Decentralization of Sustainable Architecture to ensure it fits in with the context of both urban and rural developments at least for the next five years. Our priorities include:

1. The integration of passive cooling technologies as key elements in Tropical vernacular design. This is particularly true with respect to commercial spaces.

2. A strict adherence to our Nature First policy, under which the preservation of the world’s natural resources takes precedence before others.

3. Creating prototypes of sustainable housing design that’s easy to follow for both new and renovated home projects.

4. Staying focused on mosque architecture with a view to incorporate sustainable features in the design. This is particularly important because it’s the style of building design and construction that speaks to the hearts and minds of the followers of Islam across Indonesian society.

Bioclimatic Community Mosque of Pamulang / Carefully thought-out materials paired with the right form, color and texture result in an appearance that blends perfectly with the cultural context of a landscape. / Photographs: William Sutanto

Q: Give me a few examples that speak volumes for RAD+ar thoughts, identity and experience.

A: Tanatap Ring Garden Coffee Shop. It’s a carefully planned design experiment aimed at evaluating the performance of a commercial space in real-life situations.

In this particular design, a small restaurant serving coffee and light meals in the garden is enclosed inside a building envelope made of glass blocks for maximum daylighting. The small café per se hides in plain sight, beautifully ensconced by a grassy knoll that’s the centerpiece of the interior landscape.

The atmosphere is made attractive by split-level outdoor rooms that connect to every sequential space and function in the design. The result is a playful yet relaxed rendezvous for socializing with friends and loved ones.

We want it to be a refreshing, dynamic civic space, one that’s positive in attitude and full of energy. Designed with nature in mind, it’s a sustainable commercial space that fulfills people’s needs in Jakarta, where occasionally government-built public spaces may not be consistently good.

An exciting new alternative, Tanatap Ring Garden Coffee Shop is just one of many design experiments being undertaken by RAD+ar.

Antonius Richard
Tanatap Ring Garden Coffee Shop / Photographs: KIE, Mario Wibowo
Tanatap Ring Garden Coffee Shop / For the architects, designers and thinkers at RAD+ar, natural features are as important as the design of a place, perhaps even more. Their notions about the role of nature are clearly manifested in this project named, “Tanatap Ring Garden Coffee Shop,” situated in Jakarta, Indonesia. / Photographs: KIE, Mario Wibowo

Discover new ideas in design, architecture and useful pieces of advice similar to the above-mentioned projects at the upcoming room X Living Asean Design Talk 2023. It’s an opportunity to meet up with Antonius Richard, architect and founder of the design atelier RAD+ar of Indonesia, along with a panel of experts from three ASEAN countries.

This year’s conversation event is on the theme of “URBAN FUSION / RURAL FLOURISH: Interweaving Urban and Rural Designs.” The Talk is scheduled for Sunday August 6 at the room Showcase zone inside BaanLaeSuan Fair Midyear 2023. Admission is free. Just a friendly reminder, seats are limited. Hope to see you there!

For more details: https://livingasean.com/special-scoop/room-x-living-asean-design-talk-2023-urban-fusion-rural-flourish-interweaving-urban-and-rural-designs/

Register to attend at: https://amarinfair.com/booking/room-x-living-asean-design-talk


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Distracted House: Unique Roof Style Merges Javanese Tradition with Urban Modern Living

Distracted House: Unique Roof Style Merges Javanese Tradition with Urban Modern Living

/ Jakarta, Indonesia /

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

/ Photographs: Andhy Prayitno, of Mario Wibowo Photography (www.mariowibowo.com) /

Nestled on the outskirts of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, an urban modern home aptly named “Distracted House” looks completely different from everything else. The densely populated neighborhood shares a common characteristic. It’s chock-full of one- and two-story homes closely packed in a way that it feels uncomfortable. To deflect attention away from the humdrum existence of a crowded space, a team of talented engineers at Ismail Solehudin Architecture came up with a clever idea for a craftsman-style home unlike anything else.

Distracted House

Distracted House

The result is a work of outstanding artistry made clearly noticeable by irregular polygons with unequal sides and unequal angles. But what makes Distracted House even more interesting lies in its irresistible power of storytelling.

Beautifully done, it looks the epitome of Javanese culture designed to showcase the ways of life, religious beliefs and traditional vernacular style unique to the Indonesian archipelago.

That’s what gives this home its timeless appeal that blends perfectly with the surrounding landscape.

Distracted House

Distracted House

The two-story, 420-square-meter building is home to an extended family with seven resident members on a normal day. On special occasions and holidays the number can increase to more than 10. That’s precisely a challenge that the architects had to overcome by creating enough usable spaces and functions to satisfy demands.

To fit in with the existing built environment, the only way to go was up. The architects relied on two building methods to solve the problem.

First, the roof was raised slightly higher than normal to create enough room for a mezzanine on the second floor, thereby giving the house extra living spaces, plus well thought out details make the interior feel warm and welcoming. This was achieved in a way that’s compatible with the mostly two-story homes neighborhood.

The second method involved putting in a courtyard with swimming pool at the rear, plus adding plants and greenery inside the home.

The pool that’s the focal point of the courtyard can be seen in full view from inside the dining room and sitting room. To bring the outdoors into the home, small rock gardens with lovely low-maintenance plants are integrated in the design, while skylights set into the roofline keep the interior well-lit during daytime hours.

Distracted House

Overall, the interior living spaces are invitingly comfortable thanks to a well-designed stairwell that opens to admit fresh outdoor air into the room.

Despite the limitations, attention to detail makes the home a special place to be and prevents it from becoming a stuffy, overcrowded space.

Distracted House

Apart from a bright and airy atmosphere, it’s the house’s outer appearance that’s getting the most attention. Plus, family traditions, lifestyle and religious beliefs play a part in determining the location of, and interaction between functional spaces in the home.

This is manifested in building orientation, by which the new home design axis is aligned with Qibla, or the direction towards the Kaaba (the stone building at the center of Islam’s holiest site in Mecca). Hence the Musalla, or room set aside for prayer in Islam, is located at the farthest end in this direction.

A place to quietly reflect inward and connect with Allah, it’s also used for religious ceremonies in the family.

Distracted House

Conceptual Diagram Courtesy of Ismail Solehudin Architecture
House Orientation Concept Courtesy of Ismail Solehudin Architecture
First Floor Plan House Courtesy of Ismail Solehudin Architecture
Second Floor Plan House Courtesy of Ismail Solehudin Architecture
Rooftop Plan House Courtesy of Ismail Solehudin Architecture

Like so, the main communal space of Distracted House is set oblique in relation to the rectangular yard landscape, an unusual layout that sets it apart from the rest. To synchronize modern living with traditional Javanese style and taste, the team of architects added Joglo house architecture to the design.

The term Joglo refers to a steep pitch roof at the center that was associated with Javanese aristocrats in olden times. The center of the floor plan is filled with smaller rooms and functional spaces, creating a conducive environment for a harmonious family life.

Meantime, areas on the periphery are roofed over to keep them in shade.

Distracted House

Distracted House

Overall, the building envelope is made of wood and concrete masonry construction painted white. Where appropriate, air bricks are used as part of the house’s ventilation system.

Except for its unusual shape, the entire roof is covered in terra cotta tiles in a dark shade of orange that’s consistent with other houses in the neighborhood.

Distracted House

Distracted House

In summary, it’s a well-thought-out design that speaks volumes for lifestyle, a strict adherence to religion, and cultural heritage passed down through generations of a family.

A new home made with skill, creativity and imagination, it’s a look that conveys a great deal about the residents through interior and exterior design.

Who would have thought that a home with absolutely unique physical features would ease into beautiful suburban vibes? Interesting, to say the least.

Distracted House


Architects: Ismail Solehudin Architecture (ismailsolehudin.com)
Lead Architect: Ismail Solehudin
Design team: Radhian Dwiadhyasa
Building contractor: Wani Build
Structural Engineer: Pt. Desain putra persada (new building) Andi Dzikril (building structure)


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Treehouse by the Lake: A Nature-Loving Forest Home on the Lakeshore

Treehouse by the Lake: A Nature-Loving Forest Home on the Lakeshore

/ Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Vietnam /

/ Story: Phattaraphon / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs : Dũng Huỳnh /

“There is something about this place that always brings back old memories,” said the owner of this lovely treehouse by the lake. “Several decades passed, but I still remember it as if it was yesterday. My family camped out here on a hot summer day. Our children gathered under the canopy of an old tree and set up a small tent together.”

treehouse by the lake

“We called it a ‘house’ because it protected us from the sun, and we had a lot of fun. Some children cut down a few trees to make tent poles while others gathered leaves to make the upper covering and decorations.

“It was beautiful and eye-catching. Completely finished, we went looking for things needed to ‘settle down’ in the leaf hut shelter. …”

Obviously, his experience and memories provided the inspiration that culminated in the country home of his dreams. Built into nature, this treehouse by the lake was based on biophilic design conceived and developed by H.2, a homegrown architectural practice based in Ho Chi Minh City.

The house merges into the surrounding forest landscape on the bank of Da Bang Lake, a calm and peaceful body of water in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province in Vietnam’s Southeast.

It all began with the homeowner’s desire to let his granddaughter connect with nature just like he and his kids did when they were young — an experience that, in his words, provided lasting psychological benefits. He could still recall having fun growing up in the countryside where life was simple.

Sharing a piece of his paradise, he said, “The leaf hut shelter that we built back in the day was a place to play games, do kid-friendly things and listen to music.”

“Memories were made here and the story is crystal clear like it all happened yesterday. The simple games we played nourished our souls and, especially for me, nurtured my love for life in the poor countryside. Those were the days.”

treehouse by the lake

The 120-square-meter home sits in the shade under the canopy of tall trees near the lakeshore. It’s made attractive by ordinary materials sourced from within the neighborhood, a quality that gives it the unblemished charm of rustic rural life.

The stilt house supported by concrete structural framing offers plenty of under-floor spaces that allow natural daylight and gentle winds blowing in from the nearby lake.

It’s called a treehouse for good reason. Instead of cutting down the existing trees, the new house is built around them, literally letting them grow through the roof.

At the center, a spiral staircase winds around a tree trunk connecting the first floor to the second that serves as family living quarters.

treehouse by the lake

treehouse by the lake

What makes it unique is the use of reclaimed steel with surface rust in a variety of colors and textures, an appearance that gives the house its vintage industrial appeal. Some of the pieces came from an old factory that had been torn down, while others were purchased from a local scrap yard.

In a way, it’s contributing towards a healthier planet by reducing waste, recycling and reusing discarded materials to suit a new purpose.

House Layout Courtesy of H.2
Conceptual Diagram Courtesy of H.2

Simple yet attractive, it’s an eco-conscious home made possible by the honest use of natural materials. Here, the emphasis is on creating a light-filled, airy and comfortable interior, one that seeks reconnections with nature and, at the same time, brings the warmth of family joy.

The homeowner said that he could still recall the day his granddaughter arrived at the new home. She was obviously happy and excited.

The forest treehouse by the lake afforded a conducive learning environment with plenty of room to play, run, jump, and climb trees.

With respect to construction, it’s a very interesting project. The nature-loving house by the lake makes practical and effective use of discarded materials in a way that creates a home of higher quality and value.

Take for example the use of scrap metal and leftover materials including corrugated roof paneling that people tend to overlook. And by giving recyclable items a new purpose, it translates into big savings and, at the same time, reduces impacts on the environment.

treehouse by the lake

treehouse by the lake

Long story short, the outer appearance is immediately appealing. The interior living spaces are comfortable, peaceful and secluded to say the least.

Flexible floor plan design lets nature permeate making the home bright and airy. At the same time, it’s ingeniously devised to integrate the existing trees in the overall scheme of things.

That’s just one of several fascinating adaptations that make it original and unique – a forest home where all things eventually merge into one pleasing and consistent whole.

treehouse by the lake


Owner: Mr. Bảo & Ms. Lụa

Architects: H.2 (www.facebook.com/workshopH.2/)

Trần Văn Huynh, Nguyễn Đức Khánh, Nguyễn Duy Thế


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Envelope House: Big Family Makes a Modern Space Feel Cozy

Envelope House: Big Family Makes a Modern Space Feel Cozy

/ Singapore /

/ Story: Phattaraphon / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: KHOO Guo Jie /

Here’s a home with a Modern space designed for a big family in Singapore. Its generous interior provides great sensory pleasure with fresh air and plenty of room where plants grow luxuriantly. Unique and neatly planned, it redefines the meaning of Tropical design, which in this instance is manifested in an intriguing combination that makes the home feel more comfortable.

Modern space

Because Singapore is an island, every square inch counts and it doesn’t come cheap.

To build a good home, one must ponder the question of what functions and useable spaces it offers, plus all the modern conveniences.

At the same time, it’s nice to bring nature inside to create powerful psychological effects. And from this point of view, this beautiful oasis with in the city is truly a gem.

Modern space

Modern space

The multigenerational household comprises three families. Naturally, it makes sense to accommodate the needs of every age group without sacrificing the common area that’s available to everyone.

Done right, it allows interactions to take place in the family. To facilitate the socialization processes, greenery space is added to the mix to let house occupants reconnect with nature wherever they may be.

The well-planned common area gives the gift of healing and the human touch that everyone craves coming home at the end of the day.

Taking everything into account, the contemporary cube-shaped house is in a league of its own. It celebrates the simplicity of open living spaces conceived and developed by the Singapore-based architectural practice ASOLIDPLAN.

Among other things, what makes it unique is the use of rectangular openings in various dimensions to make the building façade aesthetically pleasing. Done right, the openings in the walls and rooftop admit light and air and allow people to see out.

In this particular case, the building sits facing west, so every precaution is taken to protect the interior from the sun’s harsh glare keeping it nice and cool all day.

The answer lies in a complete rethink of the building shell design, hence the name “Envelope House.”

Modern space

Modern space

Modern space

Step inside, and you come to a gorgeous center courtyard with triple-height ceilings and skylights on the rooftop. It’s a clever hack to reconnect with nature by bringing the outdoors into every nook and cranny of the interior.

Houseplants perfect for miniature landscaping thrive everywhere, even under the staircase. Nearby, young trees with healthy lush foliage stand front and center next to a garden water feature with stepping stones that decorates and refreshes the room.

Looking for a quiet place to lean back and chill? There’s a nice sitting room with a garden view by the window.

Modern space

The second floor contains living quarters for elderly parents, while the third affords plenty of private residential spaces for grownup children and their families.

Here, fresh greenery is never out of style. It’s an awesomely cool Modern space, where the beauty of plants is present everywhere, whether it’s on the staircase or along the corridors.

The entire interior is so well-lit by skylights that there’s no need for electric lights anywhere in the daytime. And the house plants benefit from it, too, no doubt.

1st Floor Plan Courtesy of ASOLIDPLAN
2nd, 3rd, and Roof Floor Plan Courtesy of ASOLIDPLAN

Speaking of design, there’s a special feature that makes the house with a Modern space feel more comfortable. Its thermal envelope is made of energy-saver double-layer walls that form the first line of defense against heat and the elements.

Where possible, landscaping plants thrive in between the two layers to protect the interior from the sun’s harsh UV rays. That’s not all. There’s also a rooftop deck with green grass lawns for outdoor relaxation in the cool of the evening.

Conceptual Diagram Courtesy of ASOLIDPLAN

Modern space

In the fewest possible words, it’s a perfect example of homes well suited to a Tropical climate — a complete rethink of strategies that doesn’t rely on adding or extending a roof overhang to protect from inclement weather.

Plus, double-layer wall construction makes this piece of architecture original and unique in itself simply by bringing the outdoors inside.

By integrating a green oasis into the design of the house’s Modern space, it succeeds in dealing with limitations that come with overcrowded urban spaces.


Architect: ASOLIDPLAN (asolidplan.sg)

Lead Architect: QUCK Zhong Yi


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Turning a Cold 20-Year-Old House into a Bright and Airy Tropical Home

Turning a Cold 20-Year-Old House into a Bright and Airy Tropical Home

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

/ Story: Kor Lordkam / English version: Bob Pitakwong / Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul /

Every home tells a story. This good-sized two-story residence at “Mai Lom Ruen”, an upscale housing development near King Rama IX Memorial Park in Bangkok, is home to a couple and their six adorable pets (a dog and five cats). They moved to this outlying district of the city not that long ago. The 20-year-old house they bought needed improvements so as to answer their lifestyle needs. And a home renovation firm came in handy to do exactly that. The result is a light and airy tropical home with the warm sunshine, plus an image of the friendliness and youthful enthusiasm of the people living here.

The project architect, Tharit Tossanaitada, who is design director of the Design In Motion Co., Ltd, said that in the primary stage, he would have to redraw a new house plan within the confines of the existing home.

It was good that the homeowners already had an idea about what to do and had a blueprint for all the rooms. And with that, the project was off to a very good start.

AIRY TROPICAL HOME

The 400-square-meter two-story home was ready for remodeling, starting with a teardown of most solid walls that divided the interior into different parts.

The building’s original frames and beams supporting the roof and floor above them remained intact. Thereafter new room dividers were put in place according to the activity and purpose intended for each space.

Meantime, the carport that originally stood front and center was moved to the right side of the house. Like so, side-by-side parking has now changed to parking in a column on the driveway.

The result was a house front design that’s wide open without vehicles cluttering up the passageway, creating the perfect front yard that’s easy on the eye.

The house’s first floor that lies in open view consists of a nice little foyer at the front that connects to a home office, kitchen and delightful secluded sitting room at the farthest end. By design, the parlor room is conveniently linked up with the new car park at the right side of the house.

Precisely it’s the architect’s intention to keep this back door entrance strictly for family use and hence no need to enter and leave through the front door every time.

On top of that, the architect had the entrance hall ceiling torn down to make room for a new metal staircase leading to the second floor. The remodeled foyer performs its dual role.

On the one hand, it gives the family direct access to the second floor. On the other hand, it adds consummate elegance to the warm and welcoming antechamber.

airy tropical home

Step outside, and you come into a central courtyard enclosed by the house walls. This, too, has undergone a complete makeover.

The grass lawn that had been there originally was removed to make room for a carp pond decorated with aquatic plants, leafy bushes and shrubs, making the outdoor room more enjoyable.

airy tropical home

As to be expected, the second floor is a little more private. Several rooms that had been there from the beginning were torn down to provide sufficient space for an ample common area.

The master bedroom remained intact, while a second bedroom originally next to it has since been replaced by a semi-outdoor sitting room enclosed by a balustrade on the outside of the building.

airy tropical home

airy tropical home

From the looks of it, this represents the most obvious attempt by the architect to bring the outdoors into what was once an uncomfortable drafty old house.

That being the case, the external envelope of the building was torn down to create a perfect outdoor room with bench seating that matches the house façade.

Consisting of strips of steel securely fastened together to form a privacy screen, the redesigned façade extends all the way to the translucent upper covering of the building that allows natural daylight into the home.

On the inside, the second floor also contains a family room and a third bedroom that has since been allocated to their beloved house pets.

airy tropical home

As Tharit put it, the most important part of the renovation project was the redesigned layout of the ground floor that made the traffic flow between major living areas easy and gave it ample space perfect for the family’s lifestyle needs.

He said: “What I was trying to achieve was a house plan with a good flow of traffic and carefully thought-out circulation patterns to create a well-lit and well-ventilated interior.

“So the first thing I did was dismantle all the rooms and rebuild them by setting the walls further back slightly to create more room for improved air circulation.

“Albeit viewed as separate units, all the rooms were connected to one another by natural air circulation.”

The architect reiterated that by setting the walls further back one meter, the interior rooms became smaller in size while the semi-outdoor veranda along the outside of the house overlooking the central courtyard gained more space.

This resulted in the good flow of traffic between major living areas.

Plus, there was natural circulation that came from using environmental-friendly systems such as walls fitted with large aluminum windows and roller blinds that open and shut to control the amounts of daylight and fresh, outdoor air coming into this airy tropical home.

These are among the features that help keep the interior cool without air conditioning.

airy tropical home

airy tropical home

airy tropical home

airy tropical home

Finally, materials matter. The products that the architect chose were all important to achieve a desirable outcome.

In this case, it was real timber used in the building that made this house stand out from the rest. Plus, the homeowners had a love for everything wood and took the time and effort to purchase the materials themselves.

They included the golden species of teakwood that’s ideal for building the veranda around the central courtyard, door and window casings, ceiling panels, and parts of walls.

The renovation process also saw the original ceramic roof tiles being replaced by cedar shingles that gave the house its inviting appeal.

airy tropical home

In summary, the relocation of functions represents a rethink of strategy and practical use in building design. The result is a renovation done right — a bright and airy tropical home that exudes peace and tranquility thanks to natural materials and environment-friendly systems.

As the architect puts it, “even one meter matters” when it comes to quality home improvements. It’s a metamorphosis of purpose that transforms the unpleasantly cold 20-year-old house into an airy tropical home with a sunny personality that gives a feeling of comfort, warmth, and relaxation.


Architect: Design In Motion Co., Ltd.


 

MP House: A New State-of-the-Art Live/Work Design

MP House: A New State-of-the-Art Live/Work Design

/ Tangerang, Indonesia /

/ Story: Phattaraphon / English Version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Arti Pictures /

A live/work design solution could be just what you’re looking for. Here’s a home developed for a designer couple in Tangerang, Indonesia. Known as MP House, it marries work-from-home essentials with well-planned living spaces that come loaded with personality.

live/work design

The secret to a productive daily routine, it combines both residential and home office functions. The workspace lies on the first floor, that also includes a semi-basement, while the more private residential area is placed on the level above it.

The ample residential space is divided into two parts. Semi‐private facilities such as the living room and dining room take up the front of the house, whereas more private spaces and bedrooms are located at the rear that are designed for peace and seclusion.

LIVE/WORK DESIGN
LIVE/WORK DESIGN

On the first floor, only a dry garden separates the home office from the guest and kids’ bedrooms at the rear. By design, healthy green foliage in the center courtyard serves as an engine that drives natural ventilation and provides a light and heat barrier. The result is a tranquil indoor environment that’s the key to a happy family life.

In a sensitive and practical way, indoor ramps with handrails are chosen as an alternative to a set of stairs to provide access between different levels. The sloped pathways are particularly useful for the homeowner’s elderly parents. Plus, it’s the split-level design that makes the most effective use of available space.

There is a real sense of achievement in the way the living room and dining room merge into one large lounge with comforting earth tones and double-height ceiling design. It’s a place to eat home-cooked meals and enjoy family conversations that help keep everyone together. Semi-private by design, the ample social interaction space is well-lit and well-ventilated.

LIVE/WORK DESIGN
LIVE/WORK DESIGN
LIVE/WORK DESIGN

The house has a modern exterior. Filled with cement breeze blocks, aka screen blocks, the front façade looks onto another dry garden located just above the carport.

The decorative breeze blocks are chosen for their ability to provide sun protection and maintain openness and airflow. Meantime, flat masonry textures that are repetitive and earthy in color provide a variety of light refraction that adds aesthetic pleasure to the interior living space.

LIVE/WORK DESIGN

 

The building is roofed over with a gable design that offers many benefits. Besides strength and durability, it allows the architects to create all kinds of space underneath.

The result is a hybrid live/work design of the home office and the place of residence that feels pleasantly comfortable and capacious.


Architect: TIES (www.ties-db.com)

Lead Architects: Sansan & Tritya


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A House in Quang Yen: Massive Roof Design Celebrates Vietnam’s Climate and Culture

A House in Quang Yen: Massive Roof Design Celebrates Vietnam’s Climate and Culture

/ Quang Yen, Vietnam /

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

/ Photographs: Hoang Le, Duc Ngo /

The so-called “House in Quang Yen” is a two-story home designed for a large family in Quan Yen, a town in Quang Ninh Province in Vietnam’s Northeast. The province borders Ha Long to the east and Haiphong to the south. The port city of Haiphong itself is an important economic corridor with harbors for seagoing ships and modern industrial zones that attract investors and manufacturers both at home and abroad. Quan Yen is a quintessentially Vietnamese small town that’s sparsely populated with beautiful natural and agricultural landscapes.

House in Quangyen
Photograph: Hoang Le

 

The 121-square-meter home project is a collaboration between two design studios, namely, ra.atelier (Gia Thang Pham) and ngo + pasierbinski (Piotr Pasierbinski and Duc Ngo). Their job was to undertake two tasks simultaneously — preserve the existing landscape with a water pond and tropical garden environment on it, and cater to the lifestyle needs of homeowners in post-retirement age and their family.

Precisely that translated into maintaining the outdoor space in the state that was in existence at the time as much as they possibly could. This included the outdoor room for planting trees and a flower garden plus spaces for vegetable gardening and a flexible piece of ground for entertaining several houseguests and relatives.

 

House in Quangyen
Photograph: Hoang Le

House in Quangyen
Photograph: Hoang Le

House in Quangyen
Photograph: Hoang Le

House in Quangyen
Photograph: Duc Ngo

 

The house is situated on 735 square meters of land (roughly 0.2 acres), shaped like an elongated rectangle with a narrow frontage to the street. The face of the building stands facing south, overlooking a small semicircle body of water. Nearby a miniature mountain garden décor separates the front yard filled with flowers and bonsai from the backyard that’s reserved for vegetable gardening.

According to the architect, the new house was built exactly where the old house once stood. It’s set slightly toward the back so as to create more room for a veranda projecting in front of the building.

 

Illustration: Courtesy of ra.atelier and ngo + pasierbinski
Illustration: Courtesy of ra.atelier and ngo + pasierbinski

Illustration: Courtesy of ra.atelier and ngo + pasierbinski

Illustration: Courtesy of ra.atelier and ngo + pasierbinski

 

The layout of the house is primarily related to its intended functions. In the big picture, the building has the approximate shape of a cube, the front part of which is reserved for general purposes such as giving lessons to kids in the neighborhood, a common activity for people in post-retirement age.

The back part of the house is quiet and a little more private, with room for a kitchen and bedrooms. Halfway in between lies an uncluttered center hallway made attractive by double-height ceiling design.

Climb a flight of stairs and you come to a more personal center hallway connecting to two bedrooms and an ancestral worship room. It’s a long-established custom in Vietnam to offer veneration to ancestors from whom the family is descended.

 

House in Quangyen
Photograph: Duc Ngo

House in Quangyen
Photograph: Hoang Le

House in Quangyen
Photograph: Hoang Le

 

All of the above parts work together to form a coherent house plan that’s perfectly oriented to maximize all aspects of the surroundings.

In terms of the aesthetic appeal, the water pond is the focal point of the front yard landscape. There’s a sense of physical and spiritual relationship among all things. Arranged in a straight line, the miniature mountain décor and the pond can be seen through the round, compelling window of the worship room at the center of the house plan. The water pond, as the architect puts it, represents the essential part of the original landscape that had long been there before the old house was torn down and replaced by a new one.

In a nutshell, the main idea is to keep everything where it belongs.

 

House in Quangyen
Photograph: Duc Ngo

House in Quangyen
Photograph: Hoang Le

House in Quangyen
Photograph: Duc Ngo

 

Apart from a set of traditional beliefs and sociocultural values, other important factors are also taken into account in creating a design that best fits the natural surroundings and climate of the region. This is manifested in visual continuity that extends from inside the worship room to the miniature mountain garden décor in the front yard. Plus, the open floor plan design allows natural daylight and fresh, clean air to enter and circulate inside the home.

In essence, it’s a trinity of complementing factors – the water pond, the building, and the surrounding landscape.

 

The architect wraps it up nicely. “It’s a design based on the relationship between common spaces, worship room, and the landscape.” There is apparent continuity starting with the entryway that boasts the spaciousness of double height ceiling design all the way to the second floor of the house. This allows all usable spaces and functions to conveniently link up with one another.

Meanwhile, doors and windows are in the right proportion in relation to the size, shape and position resulting in well-ventilated interior living spaces that are not too bright, not too warm, not too dark or not too cold.

 

House in Quangyen
Photograph: Hoang Le

Photograph: Hoang Le

 

On the outside, the house overlooks the front yard with a water pond that lies to the south. It’s perfectly oriented to coincide with seasonal winds that carry atmospheric moisture into the home, thereby keeping it cool all year round.

At the same time, the extremely large roof covered in orange tiles shelters the home from severe weather and blends harmoniously with like-color roofs in the surroundings.

Overall, it’s a design well suited to the warm and humid climate of Vietnam. Although the roof is enormous by any standard, the interior is well-lit by natural daylight thanks to large perimeter windows and doors. The result is a breezy, visually stimulating environment for house occupants.


House in Quangyen
Photograph: Hoang Le

House in Quangyen
Photograph: Hoang Le

House in Quangyen
Photograph: Hoang Le

Finally, the interior living spaces are plain and uncluttered by design. In all parts of the house, white walls prove a perfect complement to the floors covered in gray color tiles. What makes the interior pleasing to the senses is the furniture, as well as windows and doorframes made of wood. More importantly, it’s the ordinary interior that speaks volumes for the simple lifestyle characteristic of this area. That’s precisely the quality that gives this house a feeling of warmth, comfort and relaxation.

Nothing describes the relationship and the atmosphere here better than the architect’s saying, “The house is an extension of the garden, and the garden is an extension of the house.”

 


Architect: : ra.atelier (Gia Thang Pham) and ngo + pasierbinski (Duc Ngo, Piotr Pasierbinski)


 

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

/ Story: Sarayut / English version: Bob Pitakwong / Photographs: Ritthirong /

Let’s say you’re looking for a modern urban courtyard house plan to get inspired. Here’s one nestled in the heart of Bangkok’s downtown that’s built to accommodate three generations living in one household. Nice work, it’s capable of answering the family’s lifestyle needs, plus it’s easy to maintain thanks to uncomplicated design. What looks opague from the outside is compensated by a center courtyard that’s light and airy. Its story is inscribed as part of the building’s decorative features.

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

When a design team from the Atelier of Architects Co., Ltd was tasked with creating a new home for eight people including not just parents and their children, but also grandparents, the first things they thought of were safety features, comfortable living conditions, privacy protection, and a peaceful environment for all family members.

Yes. That’s exactly what they had in mind.

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

The two-level, six-bedroom house plan may seem a bit crowded for a 130-sq-wah plot of land, but the overall layout is impressive. It’s neatly planned to ensure the proper space utilization. In so doing, every available space is used in an effective way.

Homeowner Salyawate Prasertwitayakarn, himself an architect, put it this way:

“If the house is built in the middle as is usually the case, there won’t be enough room for a yard, let alone a small piece of ground for trees.

“The land is environed by vacant lots that will see large property developments taking place in future. So the only way forward is to build a U-shaped home with solid walls along the outside of the house and a center courtyard facing an apartment building that’s the family’s business.

“Although the courtyard lies facing west, it’s protected from the sun and heat by the adjacent five-story apartment building. The result is a cool small outdoor area for little children to run and play.

“To protect family privacy, vertical concrete fins and a full array of plantation blinds are installed along the building façade facing the apartment building.”

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family Urban Courtyard House for an Extended FamilyUrban Courtyard House for an Extended Family Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

Taken as a whole, it’s uncomplicated design that gives this new urban courtyard house its character.

Its outstanding features include an array of transom windows that bring more natural light into the home. Its modern and fresh interior with shades of gray bespeaks a clean, clear and uncluttered layout, while exposed brick walls add timeless elegance to the peaceful ambience.

The courtyard patio is covered in gray pea sized gravel that’s easy to maintain. It’s a simple yet attractive design that expresses rich and subtle meanings. On this matter, Salyawate explained:

“I want to get the message across, something that internalizes values and what’s important in life for everyone in the family.

“This is evident in the work of art executed directly on the brick wall by the entryway. It takes the form of the Thai letter “p” that’s the initial of the family’s three sons — Pahda, Pheem, and Pinyada.

“Precisely, it’s a reminder that this place is made for them.”

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

To get people from one floor to the next, a spiral staircase stands surrounded by bookshelves. It’s the most frequented area of the house where a blonze plaque is installed as a reminder of when the house was built and completed.

The outlines of the couple’s hands and those of their children are inscribed on it. Small hand images indicate the family moved in when the kids were little.

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family

Visiting house guests can tell right away the home is perfectly cozy without elaborate décor. But for the eight people who live here, it’s a special place made for living a simple life, one full of rest and room to pursue their dreams.

Urban Courtyard House for an Extended Family


Architect: The Atelier of Architects Co., Ltd by Salyawate Prasertwitayakarn
Owner: Salyawate, Piyasuda Prasertwitayakarn


Beautiful Wooden House on Stilts in a Coconut Grove

Beautiful Wooden House on Stilts in a Coconut Grove

/ Ratchaburi, Thailand /

/ Story: Patsiri / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul / Styling: Worawat /

Here’s an intimate little wooden house on stilts amid the coconut groves of Damnoen Saduak, a country town famous for lush orchards and a vibrant floating market. Built on a budget, much of it is made of reclaimed timber in various styles. Oh, by the way there’s no need for air conditioning. It stands canopied by overhanging trees alongside water channels for crop irrigation, an ecosystem that drives natural ventilation to keep it cool all year round.

wooden house

Since its heyday in the mid 1900s, Damnoen Saduak Canal had been a major route for water transport in this part of Ratchaburi. Traditional wooden houses were built mostly along the water’s edge, while properties that lay further inland were used for agriculture.

This 7-Rai (11,200 sq.m.) piece of land was 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, parts of the water channels were filled to make room for a new contemporary home.

wooden house

At first what they had in mind was a little house with one bedroom. But after having consulted the architectural firm Studio Miti, they were convinced that house-on-stilts design, something slightly bigger, was the way forward. It 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-sq-m home plan with high ceilings.

The wooden floor is elevated on concrete poles for stability and better ventilation, while the superstructure is crafted of weathered wood that gives the home rustic and contemporary décor.

The exterior walls are built of a captivating mix of reclaimed timber, including Praduak (Pterocarpus soyauxii) that’s preferred for its bright orange red color, Mai Daeng or Ironwood (Xylia xylocarpa), and Mai Yang (Dipterocarpus alatus), which is light brown in color.

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. There is no guest reception area that’s characteristic of the Western-style home.

Instead, the center of family life is a good-sized wooden table in the middle of the room that’s fulfilling multiple functions as living area, dining room and space for relaxing and socializing.

wooden house wooden house

The kitchen formerly at the rear of the house has been moved to the ground floor that’s made suitable for traditional Thai cooking. It’s a way 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 shutters that open to circulate air and give a sense of cohesiveness.

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.

Both of them are so well-ventilated that there’s no need for air conditioning.

Wood has its 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. Otherwise, simple fans will do the trick. Outside, a canopy of overhanging trees and water channels make the home environment calm and peaceful.

In the rainy season, extended overhangs protect the interior from the elements.

Beautiful House on Stilts in a Coconut Grove

As timber prices continue to rise, the cost of building a home also increases at an alarming rate. Here, the architect is able to overcome the limited budget and deliver on his promise.

The result is a beautiful 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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A Modern Home That is Quintessentially Thai

A Modern Home That is Quintessentially Thai

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

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

/ Photographs: Anupong, Hatairat Deenuanpanao / Styling: Worawat /

The cube shape and flat roof lend a modern air to this white house on the outskirts of Bangkok. Designed for a hot, humid climate, it is gently calming and comfortable to live without air conditioning. The home’s contemporary style belies the traditional Thai way of life that’s central to its existence and character. Plus, it shows great attention to detail that makes the house feel warm and welcoming.

Modern HomeModern Home

Amazing as it may seem, the cube shaped modern home sits on a narrow lot that’s only 5 meters wide. There’s a small waterway and public walk along the left side of the land. In such situation, the homeowner has to forfeit 3 meters of land along the waterfront to make room for public access as required by law.

The result is a piece of land with a narrow frontage to the street as it is now. And that’s where the design team came in to create a place that’s light and airy yet relying little on air conditioning. The homeowner lives with her elderly mother; hence the new house comes in handy to answer their specific lifestyle needs.

For the most part, wood is the building material of choice. Despite its ultramodern architecture, the house plan is the quintessence of the Thai way.

Modern Home

The side of the house that looks out over the public walk gets plenty of fresh air and natural daylight. But it’s also facing west, which means the afternoon sun is much harsher and brighter.

To solve this problem, the design team puts in a perforated metal façade that doubles as an outer shell that helps keep the house cool during daylight hours. The outer shell crafted of steel is painted white to harmonize in color and texture with the nearby boundary fence. It’s a simple yet effective way to overcome a challenge on site.

Modern Home

By design, this modern home is well ventilated thanks to open concept floor plans both in front and at the rear of the building. There’s nothing to block the winds from the north or the south. Wood stairs with no risers not only allow fresh air to enter and circulate in the interior.

They also illuminate the stairwell and nearby areas with natural daylight. The structure is a hybrid of steel beams and joists supported by concrete piles and arranged in an orderly way like traditional Thai architecture in former times.

Plus, solid hardwood flooring looks very nice and makes the interior cooler in the summer.

Modern Home

To create warm, beautiful environments, the house floor is made of hardwood on all three levels. As a natural building material, wood evokes positive responses. Plus, it has a substantial impact on the wellbeing of humans in ways that tiles and concrete floors cannot.

Meantime, pieces of furniture from the old house are given a new lease on life. They are adapted for use in a different purpose and given a fresh coat of paint that proves a perfect complement to white home decorating ideas.

Modern Home

Showing great attention to detail, the design team ensures the house plan is right for the elderly mother who lives here. To make it easy for her to walk up a flight of stairs, each riser is reduced to just 15 cm (from the average 17 to 18 cm).

As a precaution against slip and fall accidents, each stair tread is made deeper than average, thanks to angled risers that provide extra space.

Modern Home Modern HomeModern HomeModern Home

The house fence is made of air bricks painted white. They have holes in them to create an air flow between the property and the public walkway on the other side.

The masonry wall has no see-through gaps in it, which offers privacy and protection from unwanted prying eyes. It’s an oasis of calm on the outskirts of the city, thanks to additional green spaces along the fence line adorned with shrubs that thrive in the understory of tall trees.

The farthest end leads to a vegetable garden where Mom spends most of her free time preparing the soil, planting a crop, and nurturing the plants. Backyard vegetable gardening is an ingenious way to live a salubrious life. It not only puts fresh food on the table, but also speaks volumes for their determination to preserve the Thai way of life in this modern home.

Modern HomeModern Home


Owner: Nopphamas Houbjaruen
Designer: Chalermpon Sombutyanuchit (Office Architect9Kampanad)


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