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Baan Somjai: Where Time Seems to Stand Still on Pha-Ngan Island

Baan Somjai: Where Time Seems to Stand Still on Pha-Ngan Island

/ Surat Thani, Thailand / 

/ Story: Wuthikorn Sut / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Sitthisak Namkham /

Peacefully ensconced in a coconut grove by the sea, “Baan Somjai” is both a vacation destination and private residence located on beautiful Pha-Ngan Island. Everything goes by slowly on this side of the world, so slow it feels like time is standing still.

Pha-ngan Island

Pha-ngan Island
Nature’s A/C system at work. A water pond runs the entire stretch of the building, lowering indoor temperatures as winds carry water vapor into the room.

The seaside resort is the brainchild of Nattawut Piriyaprakob, of the architectural practice NPDA Studio. He’s both the designer and son of landowners Banjob and Somjai Piriyaprakob. The property on Pha-Ngan Island is an inheritance from Nattawut’s grandmother.

Back in the day, it was nothing but a family-owned coconut orchard. Nattawut could still recall traveling back and forth often to tend trees on the property. Nowadays travel to and from Pha-Ngan has become more convenient. That’s reason enough for the family to put in a home here.

Pha-ngan Island
A wide-open hall used for public gatherings has movable furniture for ease of care and flexible uses of space.

As Nattawut put it: “Mom and Dad had worked in other provinces for a period of time. They returned home to Pha-Ngan after retirement and started out with a homestay called Coconut and Noom Resort.

“The hospitality business had welcomed all kinds of tourists, from backpackers attending the famous Full Moon Party, to well-to-do European families looking for peace and quiet on an island paradise. As luck would have it, Mom and Dad decided to put in a permanent home here, and the rest was history. They enjoyed meeting new people every day.”

Pha-ngan Island
Vertical fins and roof lines fixed at a tilted angle work in tandem to protect the porches and guest rooms from the sun.

Pha-ngan Island

Pha-ngan Island

Pha-ngan Island
Diagonal plaster stripes in glossy red contrast with the brick foundation in flat finish, adding visual interest to the exterior wall.

Nattawut said that he designed the buildings on Pha-Ngan Island from experience, memories and knowledge of indigenous building materials. “The homes are built by local builders using local materials and wisdom. Together, they culminate in a unique design that stands out.

“Take for example eco-friendly bamboo items and paneling that are easy to find. The walls are crafted of red brick and flooring is made of polished concrete finishes.”

The designer intentionally added vivid colors into the work. He said: “As you can see, I chose bold colors for the building, such as the bright external envelope. The shadow cast by coconut trees makes the landscape even more interesting.”

The sundeck that is Banjob’s vantage point offers a 360-degree view of the coconut grove and the sea to the further side.

Benefiting from the sea breeze, the rooms are nice and cozy. Solid walls facing west shield them from the afternoon sun, while the cooling pond helps disperse the heat. Together, they go to work creating a light and airy atmosphere even when the weather is hot.

Remembered for its good design, warmth and southern hospitality, Baan Somjai Seaside Resort on Pha-Ngan is welcoming visitors to their home. It’s not only the home to the Piriyaprakob family. It’s also a dream destination for travelers from across the globe


Architect: NPDA Studio (

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Four Tropical Houses Combined into a Resort in Tranquil Living

Four Tropical Houses Combined into a Resort in Tranquil Living

  Uthai Thani, Thailand /

 / Story: Wuthikorn Sut / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Damrong Leeviroj, Xaroj Phrawong /

Saving every tree on the property” is the motto from this resort owner. Studio Miti designed these tropical houses that blend in with the forest, as architecture that fuses modern and traditional Thai tropical living styles.

The house-on-stilts design allows nature to permeate and ensures good air circulation. Plenty of under-floor spaces allow small vegetation to thrive.

At a glance, the houses conjure up images of little houses in the big woods. Four beautiful and tranquil tropical houses are nestled in a surrounding forestland of northwestern Uthai Thani.

This house-becomes-hotel is the brainchild of the owner, Chantita and Paisan Kusonwatthan. They started re-growing and restoring the area some thirty years ago. Later when development began in earnest in 1996, the area was meant to be their retirement home.

Through hard work and dedication, the property grew to become a lush woodland full of vitality. It gave rise to the idea of opening it to the public.

Now the post-retirement project becomes a resort, appropriately named “Bansuan Chantita.Bansuan is Thai for garden home.



The architect of the project, Prakij Kanha of Studio Miti, explains:

“First and foremost, we set out to save every tree on the property. It is our duty and responsibility to find common ground between nature and architecture.”

In the design process, the architect took great pains to measure every space among the trees. The average area was then used as the basis for designing homes on the property.

Only after that did the design team begin work on the design concept. The project took the form of a “plus” symbol as its layout.

The tropical living house design and remain Thai lifestyle by design terrace in front of the house.

“The plus symbol plans fit in well amongst the trees. The result was perfect harmony between architecture and the existing natural environment. The design scheme was about putting together five rooms, all of which are easily accessible from the central court,” explained Prakij.

“The four homes come complete with wood decks, seating spaces, bedrooms, and bathrooms. The house-on-stilts design keeps them elevated from the forest floor.

“Each home is set at a different level to promote good air circulation through the hotel property. It is the different level design that creates an enchanting aesthetic.”

All living spaces are designed to be proportionate with one another in size, amount, and frequency of use. Different spaces are designed with different needs in mind.


The design scheme calls for the four tropical houses to be conveniently linked by a system of wood passageways winding through the lush botanical garden setting. From the outside in, the resort looks and feels like it is an inextricable part of the forest in the backdrop.

By emulating the Thai-style design, the architect ensures that no space goes to waste. Small vegetation thrives on the forest floor below. Crisp, cool breezes are ever present, and nature permeates everywhere.

Inspired by the Thai-style house design, the wood deck provides a lot of nature at the doorsteps and easy access to all parts of the hotel.

The house’s exterior walls and outdoor decks are made of recycled wood. The preference was based on two reasons.

First, it was a smart move because the price was right. Second, it creates a warm and enchanting atmosphere in the midst of nature.

Recycled wood still shows signs of use, while painted surfaces in a variety of colors serve as camouflage clothing that blends in with the surroundings.



The owners, Paisan and Chantita, on the wood deck of their little homes in the big tropical  woods

Somehow it is the roofing made of steel sheets that often go unnoticed. Asked why he chose steel over other roofing materials, the architect said:

“If boats made of steel can float on water, likewise roofs crafted of steel can effectively keep the weather out.

“Steel construction is expedient especially where roofing is composed of multiple parts. Such is the case here.”


What makes these tropical houses stand out is the understanding of nature and the knowledge to incorporate it into the design scheme. The garden paradise is an escape into nature.


Owner: Chantita and Paisan Kusonwatthan.

Architect: Prakij Kanha of Studio Miti (