Blog : Modern Tropical House

Life After Retirement in the Provinces

Life After Retirement in the Provinces

Their retirement home epitomizes the “new life” many dream of. One such is Lisa Thomas, former manager of a famous hotel chain in Thailand who retired and moved with her mother to Ratchaburi.

“It was love at first sight. Our first arrival in Ratchaburi was, like this, in the rice growing season. I love the inexplicable green of rice paddies: somehow it always brings me a peaceful feeling.”

Lisa’s first impressions resulted in her choice of Ratchaburi Province as the site of this family home, but there were other reasons: convenience of being only two hours from Bangkok, good public utilities, and, importantly “the green horizon, without the view of skyscrapers from our old condo.”

Helping to bring Lisa’s dreams to reality were Research Studio Panin architects Assistant Professor Dr. Tonkao Panin and Tanakarn Mokkhasmita. Their design began with their listening intently and paying attention.

“We’re satisfied if we can manage to translate the everyday morning-to-evening life of a homeowner into each angle and corner of our house plan. Houses spring up gradually, resulting from our conversations with the owner. Solutions come from knowing how to step back and fully understand what we are listening to.”

Life After Retirement in the Provinces

This design answered fundamental home needs including functionality of use, features gradually added to support the owner’s natural habits, and principles of comfortable living such as “cross ventilation,” which allows air to move freely through the building.

A half-outdoor deck set in the middle of the house greets entering visitors, also capturing breezes from all directions as they transit from outside to inside. More than simply a stop on the way in, it’s a comfortable space for the owners to relax.

Life After Retirement in the Provinces

The building is laid out to follow the contour of the property, along a natural irrigation canal. To echo this locational context, a swimming pool is set parallel to the canal. The house faces west, but the problem of day-long heat is addressed with a basic structure of steel-reinforced concrete and an extended deck that widens to match the reach of the sun. Eaves and verandah have a steel framework that nicely frames the surrounding scenery.

“Without Lisa’s daily life here, the house would have no meaning. It awoke different levels in this space both from the perspective of form and in the actual space itself.” The location is in harmony with the nature of her life. In the everyday living areas – kitchen, dining room, living room – a high ceiling is called for. Louvers are set in narrow dividing panels between doors and windows for good ventilation throughout the day, bringing air into the central entrance hall and on into Lisa and her mother’s bedrooms in back, upstairs and downstairs.

“Time is the important thing now,” added Lisa. “I just want to use my time in the right way, doing what makes me happy, and part of that is returning to live with my mother, bringing back the feeling of life as a kid. The house is a safe space, recalling things that are engraved in my heart forever.” And it also memorializes the friendship felt by architects for the homeowner in a house that has created lasting happiness.

Boy Pisanu Nimsakul’s Resort-Atmosphere House

Boy Pisanu Nimsakul’s Resort-Atmosphere House

This house, with its hidden Western flavor, calls out for us to relax and drink in its peaceful atmosphere. Its owner, multi-talented singer and MC Boy (Pisanu Nimsakul), had it designed as an escape from urban confusion: the green of plants, brown pebbled walkways, and a connection between his and his mother’s sections of the house allowing for both familiarity and privacy.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Samutcha Viraporn /// Photography: Sitthisak Namkham 

Boy Pisanu

Boy’s house is on a thousand square meters in the Soi Yothin Pattana area, not far his old neighborhood. For the design he took the advice of his friend Sena Ling (Somkiat Chanpram) and hired Neung (Phanuphol Sildanchang) of PAA, whose work really impressed him.

“Meeting Neung, at first he just asked if I thought I could live with his style (laughs) . . .  but of course, that’s exactly what I came for, didn’t even need to spend much time on the details.”

Neung added, “If the customer understands and trusts our best design work, it makes it easy.”

Boy Pisanu

Boy wanted to be able to live with his mother and still have privacy for socializing with friends, so the house stretches wide, lengthwise along the property as it faces south toward the road. Mother and son’s sections have separate entries from a long walkway in the center of the property that essentially divides it into two courtyards, one a green area shared by Boy and his mother, and the other featuring a swimming pool that parallels a long porch accessible only from Boy’s section. This includes a gravel path running in from the carport along the rim of the garden fence so friends can come in without disturbing his mom.

Boy Pisanu Boy Pisanu

Neung says “I wanted to have every room in the house able to open window and look out as if on a private courtyard, kind of exciting! So without a lot of artifice or excess playing around with materials I’ve created the sense that there are a lot of courtyards, as people enter at different levels.”

Boy Pisanu Boy Pisanu

The central walkway has latticework screening between the two courtyard sections which keeps the buildings from appearing too separate, at the same time allowing for good air circulation on both sides. Trees are planted along the side to block the view from any neighboring houses that might be built in the future. In back he house abuts against a 3-storey townhouse in back with a wooden fence that blocks the view, covered with climbing plants such as cat’s claw vine.

Boy Pisanu

Boy Pisanu

To give the house a relaxing warmth, natural wood is used as much as possible. The weight-bearing steel frame is mostly hidden: some of the support pillars are completely natural wood. For the residential sections the roof is gabled, with long eaves to quickly drain water and heat, while in certain sections there is a modern-style flat roof. Various Western formats, proportions, and components have been inserted in a simple, unpretentious style. Interior décor includes movable furniture and light-colored cloth drapes for a gentle look that Boy’s sweetheart brought in.

Boy Pisanu Boy Pisanu

“It came out just as designed! Coming into the house it feels relaxed, like being in a resort. It’s a pleasure just to look out the window. At the same time, it feels like I’ve come home,” added Boy, obviously a happy man.

10 Modern Tropical Homes for Inspiration

10 Modern Tropical Homes for Inspiration

Living ASEAN presents 10 modern tropical homes for an inspiration as we celebrate another year ending and a new one beginning. They focus on a beautiful blend of indoor and outdoor spaces that translates into stylish patios, cool verandas and courtyard tropical gardens. Plus, plenty of ideas to make your yard lush!



















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10 Inspiring Modern Tropical Houses

10 Inspiring Modern Tropical Houses

Living ASEAN has selected our favorite houses in the ASEAN for 2017. Of course, all of them present practical solutions for living in the hot and humid climate of Southeast Asia, including a bamboo house in Thailand, a concrete block house in Thailand and a modern tropical house in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Check them out!


A bamboo house with contemporary appeal sits immersed in its natural surroundings. The home that’s also a medical clinic belongs to Nopharat Pitchanthuk MD, and his wife Kanyapak Silawatanawongse. Without question, his interest in the natural therapeutic concept is expressed in the warm, inviting atmosphere of the home office. The orthopedic doctor provides specialized care for the musculoskeletal system in the comfort of a peaceful country setting.

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Concrete Block House

Intanon Chantip, INchan atelier architect and owner of this HUAMARK 09 building, designed it to test theories he’d arrived at through intense study and experience. He wanted the architecture to tell its own story through the charm of materials that change over time. Intanon and his wife Tharisra Chantip bought this a 30-year-old, 80 square wa (.8 acres) property in the Hua Mark district, demolishing the old house to erect a new four-storey mixed-use building with usable space of 490 square meters and combine office, residence, and art studio.

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

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Waterside Home

This waterside tropical house brings back memories of Thai life as it was along Khlong Samsen in bygone times. From outside it looks straightforward and contemporary, but inside is a fascinating mix of antiques from the owners’ collections.

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Wooden Thai House in the Lanna Tradition

This Lanna Thai house of wood is built based on ancient local traditions. It has a simple, relaxed, and open look. Natural breezes blow all day long through its exquisite form, full of the charm of conservation-friendly Lanna craftsmanship.

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This box-shaped house uses architecture, architectural elements, and coordinated interior design to tell stories of the present and the past. The house is located in the Petalang Jaya district of Selangor, Malaysia. This is a district of single homes, but with little space to put up a large house. Still, architect Dr. Tan Loke Mun rose to the challenge of house owner Kenneth Koh and tore down the former structure here to build a new 3-storey home in its place.

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Living with Cats in a Beautiful House

Ever wonder why this is a dream house for kind pet owners and their feline companions?.

“I live with my wife and our seven cats in this house,” said Chan Mun Inn of Design Collective Architects (DCA). “There used to be only four, but I adopted more cats. So I ended up with seven of them. They were the reason that we left our old apartment and built a new home in the suburb.”

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Brick house For a Tropical Climate

This rectangular brick home in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City is designed for “hot and humid,” open to natural light and cool from air currents constantly streaming in and out through the bricks. Mr. Tung Do and Mrs. Lien Dinh, the owners here, are newlyweds who wanted a small house with a straightforward design for pleasant living. They had seen Tropical Space’s “Termitary House,” which won, among others, a 2016 Brick Award, and admired its form and design so much that – even with their limited budget – they engaged the Company to design and build their own home.

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Box-Shaped House with a Tropical Style Garden

Box-shaped design highlights a perfect blend of form and function, plus an exotic Tropical style garden. The result: A lovable livable home with a panoramic view from the bedroom.

“This house was not built to be photogenic,” said Patchara Wongboonsin, architect at POAR, when asked about his outstanding design. The 350-square-meter, modern cube-shaped house took two years in the making.

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Modern House in a Forest Setting

The architect uses clever techniques to make this modern house look like it’s crafted entirely of wood. When her family wanted to build a new house in Thailand’s Northeast, Kanika Ratanapridakul was assigned the task of project architect. It was the first time she had to work directly with local builders and suppliers. Things didn’t go as smooth as planned, but the mission was accomplished – eventually. The key to success lay in being a bit more flexible to ensure things got done right and on schedule.

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10 Inspiring Modern Tropical Houses

Modern Tropical House

Modern Tropical House

Like traditional Thai houses of former times, Baan Phu Patra, as Spacetime Architects’ latest creation is called, rises above the “tai thun” space below so cooling breezes can blow through, also giving a magnificent view of Nakhon Ratchasima’s Khao Yai mountains.

/// Thailand ///
Story: Ektida N. /// Photography: Soopakorn Srisakul, Nantiya Busabong /// Design: Spacetime Architects by Kannika Ratanapridakul and Piriya Thailimthong

Kannika Rattanapreedakul of Spacetime Architects named this house “Baan Phu Patra” after the Khao Yai housing development where it’s located. At the owner’s request, the house is not too big, feels relaxed and comfortable, and has space for a kitchen vegetable garden, as the architects came up with what they call the perfect definition of a “modern tropical house.”

From outside it has a stylish, trendy appearance: clean, straightforward lines, with no wasted design or anything to make it look out of place with its surroundings.

Design began with an analysis of the 1200 square meter property and its surroundings: a sleep slope, with the best view blocked by a neighboring house and the housing project’s utility building. Spacetime’s design called for the house to be raised old-style, up 3.4 meters above a traditional Thai tai thun open space. This not only corrected for the slope, but also provided a much wider view of Khao Yai than another plan might have allowed.

The second design stage involved positioning of elements for the best functionality. The house is aligned east to west. The second floor gets a panoramic view of Khao Yai to the east. The staircase up into the house itself is set at the rear, or west end of the house, leading into a large multipurpose area containing kitchen, living area, and dining area, two bedrooms – to the left and right – and out to a 5-meter-wide balcony designed for a comfortable, relaxing experience.

The ceiling follows the slant of the roof, for a more open feeling.
Granite floor tiling around the kitchen island gives definition to interior spaces.

Once the functional setup was in place, the next design step was to select the right construction materials for Baan Phu Patra to fit its natural context in a unique and interesting way. A steel framework was used, with natural wood flooring except for kitchen and bath, where the cast-in-place concrete slab floor was topped with smooth-colored granite. These very disparate materials work well with each other to add a feeling of authenticity and define the different functionalities of different interior areas without the use of separating walls.

With form, proportion, and function all well thought-out, Baan Phu Patra blends right into its natural surroundings, a home perfectly suited to its context with an elegantly simple design.

A skylight above the window adds to a connection with nature outside.
The balcony reaches all around the house for a 360-degree view.


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Modern House in a Forest Setting
Modern House in a Forest Setting
Modern Tropical House Makes Simple Living Stylish
Modern Tropical House Makes Simple Living Stylish
Modern Tropical House in Ho Chi Minh City

Modern Tropical House in Ho Chi Minh City

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

/// Vietnam ///
Story: Wuthikorn Suthiapa /// Photography: Tanakitt Khum-on

Sun diversion screens: the design comes from the hollow brick concept, but uses larger units, so the breeze enters more deeply and freely while keeping intense sun and rain from indoor areas.
A spiral staircase rises to the second floor.
The Nishizawa Architects office area

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

Levels from basement up to the fifth floor alternate between open and closed design, according to their use. Catching sunshine and natural breezes, the second- and fourth-storey balconies are edged with small gardens. This makes the tall building less constricted while allowing for easy air circulation from the front through to the back. Alternating levels extend out from the building’s frame, floors above shading the ones below. 


The small gardens also make residents feel relaxed, filter out intense light, and cool the breezes blowing through. Floors two and four feature concrete ceilings sculpted with curves rather than the harsh lines often found in concrete buildings, softening reflected light and creating the sensation of being in natural stone caves.

Shunri says, “This house shows a true combination of ‘tropical’ and ‘modern’ architectural design coming from understanding traditional living patterns in this hot, humid Vietnamese climate as well as how to set things up perfectly for contemporary life. It’s safe and secure living with modern comforts such as air conditioning, yet still answers our need to be close to nature, with sunlight, breezes, and open spaces connecting to garden and plants right here in the house.”

For versatility in design, Shunri draws on his experience growing up with multipurpose spaces common in Japanese homes. Areas such as the living room are strategically partitioned to block direct light and view, simultaneously giving privacy and an open feeling. Hollow blocks, a popular Vietnamese building material, inspired the design of larger outside openings for efficient sun and rainstorm protection.

More than just comfortable living, this house offers a charming blend of nature and architecture, snuggled up to natural phenomena right in the middle of  Ho Chi Minh City. This row house is actually much better described as a “house and garden” than simply a “building.”



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Brick house For a Tropical Climate
Beautifully Designed Brick House
Comfortable Living in a Modern Tropical House of Steel

Comfortable Living in a Modern Tropical House of Steel

 Close to nature. All the needed conveniences for modern family life. Spacious, great ventilation. This steel-framed home fits its hot tropical climate perfectly.

/// Thailand ///
Story: Patsiri Chotpongsun /// Photography: Rithirong Chanthongsuk /// Design: Office AT Co.,Ltd.

This house stands on the same rectangular property as the old family home, but is split off from it. The owner is a building contractor with interior decorating experience, and so with the help of a close architect friend from Office AT he was able to to build exactly the house he wanted.

“The two of us already have a lot of possessions, and will need more when we have kids. This house is designed for simple, easy functionality in a nice, open space. It’s modern, easy to maintain, and has a library and rooms we can put to various uses in the future.”  

Being in the construction field, the owner already had his own work team and a lot of places to get ornamental materials. Much of what was used here came from other construction sites. For simplicity and ease, the house has a cuboid structural steel frame, allowing it to be built within only four months.

For the swimming pool to be set on the north side, the house is laid out lengthwise along the southern edge of the property, which also means the narrower eastern and western walls allow less sunlight and heat inside. Near the main entrance is a carport, and trees act as a fence in front, adding shade and blocking the view from outside.

The spacious 400-square-meter living space in this home has a downstairs with connected living room, dining room, and kitchen, all with a full view out onto the swimming pool. “Besides all the northern doors and windows opening outwards, to the northeast and northwest are spaces always open for the wind to blow in and out of the house, keeping it cool so air conditioning isn’t needed most of the day,” the architect tells us.

The second floor holds bedrooms. Here walls are solid on the south side, featuring built-in closets such as are also seen downstairs. A long balcony connects all the rooms, shielded from the sun by a “double-layer skin” latticework which gives privacy while creating dimensions of light and shade. The natural materials – steel, aerated concrete, unpainted brick, wood battens, eaves and floors of light-colored wood, and the unpainted pine walkway around the pool – all express a simple sufficiency. This home supports a comfortable lifestyle, and is completely ready to be adjusted and adapted for future needs.

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Mid-city Modern Tropical Home

Mid-city Modern Tropical Home

It’s right in the middle of the city near a SkyTrain station – but open to breezes and sunshine.  This contemporary tropical-style house is as cool and comfy as a country resort.

/// Thailand ///
Story: Patharasiri  /// Photography: Soopakorn Srisakul /// Architect: Puchong Sathiraphipatkul

The central area’s open design facilitates ventilation from the natural breeze.

Hall and teak staircase are to the south, for distance from the sun’s heat.

“The clock’s ticking. How much time do we have?” Earth (Puchong Sathiraphipatkul) asked himself. Their old family home was surrounded by tall buildings and his mother and father, grandpa and grandma were rapidly aging, so in just his third year of architectural studies he decided to take it on as a project, and his first customer was . . . his mother!

“I was thinking time might not wait for us, so with my studies not finished and without much experience, I fell back on advice from teachers and older professionals.” Earth, now an architect with A49 House Design, says that the first challenge posed by his super-important customer was to create what she called a “Sukhumvit-style” house along the lines of the Spring & Summer Restaurant she liked so much, which had formerly been a residence in the Sukhumvit area.

“Mom is Mom. She’s the “decider,” always has to be pleased in every respect. In two years of professional life since then I haven’t had such a difficult customer. Back then I was constantly visiting stores and houses around Sukhumvit to get ideas on space configurations to suit our family’s lifestyle.”

They were lucky to get this huge plot of land in a short, quiet alley and near the SkyTrain station. Taking sun and wind direction into consideration, Earth faced the house north, narrow sides to the east and west making space for a big yard. He also used landfill to raise the house 150 cm height for a better view.

Building surface is open, with glass walls, and latticework to filter the light.
The house faces north: wide, spacious, light and airy.

“Starting with that trendy “Sukhumvit” theme, next comes “comfort design,” then “space design” for individual and common spaces and ‘transitional’ areas.” Earth shows us the outside fence, the carport, the walkway all around leading up to the reception hall and smaller spots, then up to the common areas and bedrooms above that.

“The home is fundamentally tropical Asian, its heart open to sun and wind. It’s in the form of two 600-square-meter blocks one atop the other, facing north onto the garden, the southern sun mostly falling on walkways, staircases, and outside balconies. The central ceiling is high, for good circulation. The west side has a thick concrete wall for sun protection. It’s a ‘passive’ design: architecture in harmony with nature, no wasted budget on technologies of comfort.”

Earth ends by saying he couldn’t have perfected his vision if it hadn’t been for the great contractors, relatives of a close friend, whose exquisite craftsmanship really shows. “Others may see this house as a little off-beat, but it completely fits our family’s style, in a balanced way. Sure works for me.”

Parents’ master bedroom, with an open, high ceiling, features Earth’s own custom-designed teak furniture.
In many spots there’s a “transitional space” area that makes things more intimate.


Modern Tropical House Makes Simple Living Stylish

Modern Tropical House Makes Simple Living Stylish

Simple design wins big. Unaffected by the passage of time, this Modern Tropical house makes simple living stylishly chic.

/// Singapore ///
Story: Ronnapa Nit /// Photography: Sitthisak Namkham /// Design: Yip Yuen Hong of ip:li Architects




Nestled in a residential neighborhood near Singapore’s downtown, the house stands hidden in plain sight behind a row of leafy trees. One has to walk through the main gate to see the monochromatic beauty in full view.

“I started out with a rectangular floor plan like a traditional Malay house, and designed the interior space later,” said architect Yip Yuen Hong. “The house is crafted of metals and concrete for durability.”

The building boasts an open, airy feel thanks to slender metal frames. Combine that with a lush garden landscape and the cool shade of bamboo groves, and you get a modern house with beautiful Tropical vibes.





The open-concept design affords three bedrooms, living room, and dining space, all conveniently connected to a poolside patio. For a simply clean, uncluttered interior, the architect avoids all kinds of built-in furnishings, and prefers only the free-standing pieces for easy updates. The result is a spacious, airy ambience like he intended.

The house’s appearance bespeaks the architect’s passion for design that strikes a perfect balance between easy and sophisticated lifestyles. He translates it into a well-proportioned home hemmed in by beautiful yards in the middle of a perfect neighborhood.





Tropical Stilt House with a Modern Aura

Tropical Stilt House with a Modern Aura

Like a trend that never goes out of style, this Tropical house on stilts perfectly blends tradition with the aura of modernity. Check this out.

/// Thailand ///
Story: Ekkarach Laksanasamlich /// Photography: Piyawut Srisakul /// Style: Pakawadee Pahulo /// Design: Kyai Nuichan




A handsome new home is starkly juxtaposed with a quaint old house on the same piece of real estate. The agreeable contrast is the brainchild of two longtime friends: Apinan Makchuay, the owner and engineer, and Kayi Nuichan, the architect.

Apinan has always wanted to put in new house here. He felt it was the most comfortable place to live. The two buddies have worked together to satisfy the housing needs of their clients. This time they put their heads together to satisfy their specific lifestyle needs.

Kayi came up with house-on-stilts design to emulate the existing old-fashioned home his friend already had. He wanted Apinan to feel easily adjusted to new conditions that came with new design. The result was a combination of tradition and modern design trends. The new house has a double-layer roof designed for the Tropical climate, while the interior is separated into different modules conveniently linked by a patio. It’s made light and airy in keeping with the main attribute of stilt houses common throughout the Tropics.

Like old times, the owner spends the daytime on the poolside patio and only goes into the rooms at nightfall. As the puts it, that is the traditional way of reaping the full benefits of the Tropical climate.



The new house comes complete with three bedrooms, living room, workspace, dining area and kitchen. To shade it against the sun, the two friends managed to keep many existing trees on the property. Over time nature regained its place adding a soothing tropical ambience the old-meets-new scenario.

The house with a distinctive atmosphere took a long time in the making. It’s clear the two buddies have wanted it to be an enchanting place to live — one that’s perfect beyond words.