Blog : Modern Vernacular Homes

Good Sunshine, Fresh Air, and Plenty of Room to Breathe

Good Sunshine, Fresh Air, and Plenty of Room to Breathe

Brick is one of the oldest known building materials in the world. It’s been used for building purposes for thousands of years before Christianity. The fact that it’s made of clay has enabled brick buildings to make deep connections with the natural world in so many ways. More importantly, the structures built of small rectangular blocks derived from nature are endowed with the power of storytelling that provides a window on vernacular culture, the environment, and the way of life native to a locality. These qualities are manifested in outstanding works of architecture, the likes of which are obvious at this house in Da Nang, Vietnam that uses brick as the main building material.

/// VIETNAM ///
Story: Patsiri Chotpongsun /// Photography: Oki Hiroyuki // Designers: Tropical Space by Tran Thi Ngu Ngon and Nguyen Hai Long 

It all started with a family’s desire to renovate their home on a budget. A team of architects from the design firm Tropical Space soon came up with an idea inspired by termite mounds. They knew that the small soft-bodied insects built their homes by cementing masses of earth with saliva. Amazingly, they are quite capable of withstanding hot and humid climates for long stretches of time. For this reason, the architects designed the house walls to be built of bricks placed on top of each other with a break between blocks to create little ventilation holes that allow in light and drive natural air circulation. Designed for tropical living, the 140-square-meter box-shaped building wrapped in a perforate shell is going by the name “Termitary House”.

Good Sunshine, Fresh Air, and Plenty of Room to Breathe
The hall at the center of the house plan is spacious and well-lit, thanks to the skylight positioned directly above it. It has room for plenty of functions ranging from a sitting parlor to dining room to pantry. The natural light cycle interacts with the interior spaces, resulting in different color renditions as day goes by.

To protect from heat, the team of architects put in perfectly opaque walls on the sides exposed to intense sunlight. Meantime, the sides with less exposure to bright light had small openings built into the walls to promote air circulation, resulting in thermal comfort in the interior living spaces year round. The same applied to the house façade that’s its most outstanding feature. The vertical flat structure was made of bricks fired the old-fashion way and laid with air holes at intervals all the way across. The result is a breathing wall that allows in just enough light and a fresh supply of air. The light and spacious atmosphere lends a modern air to the home designed to be free from dust in summer and safe from inclement weather during the monsoon season. More importantly, it’s about privacy that comes with unique design.

Situated on a rectangular plot with narrow frontage, this box shaped house is enclosed by brick walls with ventilation holes built into them. They serve multiple functions as privacy screens, breathing walls, and means of admitting daylight into the interior.

It’s a house plan that prioritizes thermal comfort as well as functions. The staircase, storage room and bath are strategically placed on the east and west sides. During daytime hours they double as a layer of insulation to keep sunlight heat out. The hall at the center is spacious and well-lit, thanks to the skylight positioned directly above it. The area offers plenty of space for a sitting parlor, pantry and dining area as well as easy access to the bedroom, bathroom and small reading room on the mezzanine. Open concept design paired with perforated room dividers contributes to visual continuity that enables family to stay connected, happy and warm even on a busy day.

A small corridor lies between the outer brick wall and the inner wall decorated with transparent glass. Glass walls maximize natural light while protecting the interior living spaces from rain.
Well thought-out design adds privacy to the bedroom on the mezzanine. Opaque walls paired with perforated brick walls and skylight in the ceiling add a new dimension to design. Meantime, glass paneling for the wall is installed to protect the room from dust and inclement weather.

Breathing walls offer several advantages. By design, countless small holes in them let a moderate amount of light shine through, increase air circulation, and reduce interior temperatures to a comfortable level. Upfront, the vertical brick structure provides an awesome privacy screen that’s energy efficient and allows people inside to see out. Made from inexpensive local materials, it comes alive when good sunshine creates movement and a shadow play on the surface. And the show goes on day and night, thanks to the form, color and texture that give the brick wall its character.

The house walls are built of bricks placed on top of each other with a break between blocks to create countless small holes that allow light and air to enter and circulate freely. The resulting perforate shell contributes to physical ease and well-being in the tropical style home.

The night is aglow under the beams of electric light shining through the perforate shell. It’s a phenomenon that conjures up the image of a beautiful lantern symbolic of a joyful celebration.

 

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

Modern Vernacular Homes
This home 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. >> www.facebook.com/messages/t/Baanlaesuanbooks

 

 

Relaxing Country Lifestyle

Relaxing Country Lifestyle

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.

/// THAILAND ///
Story: Samutcha Virapornd, BRL /// Photography: Soopakorn Srisakul // Design: Creative Crews // Structural Engineer: WOR Consultant Co., Ltd. // Mechanical Engineer: EXM Consultant Co., Ltd. // Handicrafts: Bundanjai Co., Ltd.

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.

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From Mueang Chiang Rai, head north towards Doi Mae Salong. About half way 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 farm house 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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

Khun 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 on-going experiment. The farm owners are a family that reside 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,” he said.

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 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 handicraft and furniture sourced directly from the community.

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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 daily activities of locals. Architecture has a role to play for 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.

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. >> www.facebook.com/messages/t/Baanlaesuanbooks

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
www.ahsafarmstay.com
www.facebook.com/ahsafarmstay

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