Building a sustainable home involves a great deal of knowledge of the surroundings and their relationships with nature. In the hot and humid climate of Thailand, it’s useful to have a good grasp of the sun, the wind, and seasonal thundershowers in designing a home that’s livable and aesthetically pleasing. This house is built around that concept – one that promotes well-being and the comfort of the indoor environment.
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Story: Patsiri Chot /// Photography: Soopakorn Srisakul
That being said, architect Nantapon Junngurn took the most sensible course of action. He positioned the home plan in relation to seasonal variations. In a few words, all aspects of the sun, the wind, and weather patterns were taken into account. He then put the idea to the test to determine what architectural form and space would best fit in with the environment. In so doing, a folding process common in metalworking was used to translate two- dimensional data into 3D modeling. The result was a comfortable home that was oriented around a central courtyard. To bring the outdoors in, large openings in the exterior walls were included in the plan in a bid to retain the connection to the home’s natural surroundings.
The architect said: “All things considered, a U-shaped home plan is preferred over other styles. The front entrance sits facing north, which is good since it is considered to be less sun-intrusive. The rear of the house faces due south and is kept closed because it is located next to neighboring houses. The west side is reserved for service areas with a music room and kitchenette, which confirms that home cooking is not a big part of the family lifestyle. Here, double brick construction goes to work reducing thermal transmission and protecting the home’s interior from hot sun. Plus, the back area is in shade for much of the day, thanks to the canopy of a mature tree courtesy of next door neighbors.”
The U-shaped floor plan had a small body of low ground that transformed into an inner courtyard filled with greenery. There is an Indian oak, or freshwater mangrove tree (Barringtonia acutangula) that is now in top form providing a continuous layer of beautiful foliage. Nearby a Spanish cherry, or bullet wood tree (Mimusops elengi Linn) grows into a full crown. It came as a house-warming present from dad. At the center, a small pond adds a touch of nature to the courtyard garden. It’s the natural focal point that connects to practically every part of the house.
Sharing his little slice of paradise, homeowner Kongyot Kunjak said: “I like to spend time in the courtyard. In the morning, I would sit down for coffee at the dining table looking out the window for the view of the garden. The inner courtyard with a water pond surrounded by trees and shrubbery provides a place to rest. It’s refreshing to reconnect with nature and be able to bring the outdoors in. But in the evening, I prefer taking in a different view from inside the living room. Whether for work or for social gatherings, it’s wonderful to be there and experience nature every day, albeit from an indoor perspective.”
It seems the house plan best suited for the hot and humid climate is one that’s light and well ventilated. Thermal comfort can be achieved by shielding the area exposed to danger of too much sun. In the meantime, open up the part that connects to the natural surroundings. In essence, it’s about interacting with nature. When the home breathes easily, its occupants feel relaxed and comfortable to live in it, without a doubt.
“I like to spend time in the courtyard. In the morning, I would sit down for coffee at the dining table looking out the window for the view of the garden. The inner courtyard with a water pond surrounded by trees and shrubbery provides a place to rest. It’s refreshing to reconnect with nature and be able to bring the outdoors in.”