Blog : Ventilation

Bao Long Office: An Old Shophouse Beautifully Renovated

Bao Long Office: An Old Shophouse Beautifully Renovated

/ Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam /

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

/ Photographs: Quang Dam /

Major renovations have given a drafty old shophouse a new lease on life. Thanks to great remodeling ideas, the tired-looking two-unit shophouse on Su Van Hanh Street, Ho Chi Minh City, transformed into a beautiful place that struck the right balance between a business and a private residence. Designed by the architecture firm H.a + NQN, the completely refurbished premises are home to a private enterprise named Bao Long Office.

Bao Long Office

As is often the case with shophouses in Vietnam, each of the two units has a frontage of 3 meters. It’s in the shape of an elongated rectangle with a whopping 20-meter length sandwiched between adjacent units.

To create ample, well-ventilated interior space, the wall separating the two units was torn down and replaced with a newer, more modern version.

Bao Long Office’s plan was redesigned to accommodate new business concepts as well as residential and lifestyle needs. To protect the building’s structural integrity, the internal framework remained intact.

The same applied to the ground floor that housed a business selling stainless steel products. For a neat appearance, the entire front façade was glazed in, giving it charms and good looks that set it apart from others in the neighborhood. By night the face of the building is aglow under the lights.

Bao Long Office
Second-floor workspace and private living quarters are clearly separated from each other.

Bao Long Office

Decorated with healthy green foliage, the second-floor balcony provides a relaxed outdoor room and protects the home from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

Located in a commercial zone, the store at ground level is understandably busy and the crowded street bustling with activity.

Climb a flight of stairs to the second floor, and you come to an impressive office space. The area on this level of Bao Long Office is divided into two parts. There’s a warm and welcoming workspace at the office on one side that’s clearly separated from private living quarters on the other.

Both parts are conveniently accessible via the balcony connected to the front façade. The second-floor outdoor platform is decorated with an oasis of calm that’s very pleasant to look at.

Ground Floor Plan Courtesy of H.a
First Floor Plan Courtesy of H.a
Second Floor Plan Courtesy of H.a

 

Bao Long Office
Double-height ceiling design offers open and pleasing tranquility to a long and narrow living room.

Bao Long Office

Section Drawing Courtesy of H.a

The office consists of a workroom and meeting room with simple interior décor. The walls are painted white symbolizing a new beginning and the floors covered in terrazzo.

There’s a custom work table with drafting stools that runs parallel to the wall and stretches the entire length of the room.

The atmosphere is strikingly different from the calming space of nearby private living quarters. To create a homely atmosphere, the living room has a small beverage bar with pantries customized to the homeowner’s hosting style.

At the farthest end lies a peaceful sitting area decorated with deep colors that match the dark surfaces of terrazzo floors, concrete walls, and rustic walnut furniture.

Softened by the dim light, it’s a relaxation technique to create warmth and reduce stress in the home.

Bao Long Office
The homeowner’s sitting room on the third floor is quiet and secluded.

At the same time, a section of the upper floor was taken out to make room for an entrance hall with double-height ceiling design. Not far away, a set of stairs was installed to connect to the homeowner’s secluded living quarters on the top floor.

The private residential zone comes complete with a bedroom with en suite bath, sitting room, and dressing room.

Bao Long Office

A staircase painted orange creates an unexpected playful contrast with the calmness of a small interior space.

Painted a shade of orange color, the steel staircase leads from the ground level, where the retail store is located, all the way to the private residential zone on the top floor of Bao Long Office. Its playful design is intended to express pleasure and joy in everyday life.

You got that right! It’s part of a home improvement project designed to make life more fun. It serves the primary purpose of getting house occupants from one floor to the next, and it’s done in a unique, stylish way.


Architect: H.a (www.facebook.com/workshopha) + NQN. (www.facebook.com/nqn.architects)


The article is an excerpt from “Home Office / Home Studio,” a book that compiles ideas on integrating “home” with “workspace” to create a comfortable and suitable environment for small companies, startups, and creative individuals.

You can find it at leading bookstores throughout Thailand or order it through various online channels.

INBOX: m.me/roomfan
NAIIN: https://www.naiin.com/product/detail/582920
SHOPEE: https://shp.ee/uirj9q5
LAZADA: https://s.lazada.co.th/s.9V0vz


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Premier Office: A Nature-Inspired Brick Office Design Giving off Good Vibes

Premier Office: A Nature-Inspired Brick Office Design Giving off Good Vibes

/ Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam /

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

/ Photographs: Triệu Chiến /

Though we cannot count on the weather to be calm and delightful at all times, it is quite possible to bring physical ease, well-being and relaxation into the workplace, even without air conditioning. And this brick office named “Premier Office” has proved to be the case, thanks to clever passive cooling techniques and greenery giving off friendly vibes.

brick office

Handsomely nestled within a calm Ho Chi Minh City neighborhood, the building offering rental office spaces boasts the timeless beauty of brickwork in masonry construction.

Not only do bricks blend nicely into the surrounding landscape, but they also provide interior thermal comfort by absorbing moisture to some degree.

When wet, they dry out by evaporation thereby keeping the ambient temperature pleasant during the daytime.

brick office

The seven-story building with a parking garage below ground level offers vacant office spaces for lease that let tenants do their own setup and decorating.

Unlike the usual design offering the same old same old typical of everyday commercial real estate, the rental business spaces at Premier Office are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and configurations, each of which is unique in its own special way.

brick office

brick office

brick office

As the architect intended, the new office block centers around the concept of climate-responsive design whereby forms, functions and nature blend together into one perfectly coordinated business property.

There is a courtyard-like open area at the center that affords an airy and bright atmosphere on every floor. It’s an architectural feature that goes together well with building facades made of ventilation blocks.

By design, the breathable envelope doubles as a passive cooling system that draws fresh outdoor air into this brick office and dissipates excess heat into the sky by rooftop ventilation.

brick office

brick office

Façade and Ventilation Conceptual Diagram Courtesy of Tropical Space
First Floor Plan Courtesy of Tropical Space
Second Floor Plan Courtesy of Tropical Space
Third Floor Plan Courtesy of Tropical Space
Fourth Floor Plan Courtesy of Tropical Space
Fifth Floor Plan Courtesy of Tropical Space
Sixth Floor Plan Courtesy of Tropical Space
Seventh Floor Plan Courtesy of Tropical Space

For the health benefits of natural light, the building envelope is constructed with spaces in between bricks. These little openings in the wall work in tandem with the skylight over the courtyard-like area at the center.

Together they create interior thermal comfort by admitting a defused light to illuminate the room, meantime protecting it from the sun’s harsh glare.

It’s a clever hack to promote well-being, by which only the indirect light filtered by brick walls and surrounding trees is allowed.

brick office

The architect believed that by integrating physical comfort in the design of this brick office, it would double as second home for many tenants working here.

To avoid invading people’s privacy, the business space for each and every tenant is easily identifiable and clearly defined by a brick masonry wall.

Even with that, all the rental spaces appear bright and airy, no doubt, a nature-inspired place in which to conduct business.


Owner: Nguyen Thi Thuy Linh
Architect: Tropical Space (https://tropicalspaceil.com/)


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Tita House: Redefining Vernacular Architecture in a Tropical Paradise

Tita House: Redefining Vernacular Architecture in a Tropical Paradise

/ Chiang Mai, Thailand /

/ Story: Nantagan / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Rungkit Charoenwat /

All he ever wanted was a place out in the country. Dechophon “Teng” Rattanasatchatham, the architect at Yangnar Studio, built his humble abode amid the rice fields in bucolic Chiang Mai’s Sankamphaeng District. Carefully thought out from work experience, it has come to redefine the meaning of rural home life from the perspectives of both the architect who designed it, and his family living in it. Like so, a calm and beautiful piece of vernacular architecture was created, one that came complete with all the requirements for good living. Plus, it’s aptly named “Tita House,” which is Thai for a bright and friendly rural appeal.

vernacular architecture

Sharing his piece of paradise, Teng said: “To start with, because I was going to live here, I wanted to draw on all my experience in vernacular architecture, design, ideas, and results of the experiments I had done in the past and put them to good use.

“I envisaged building a home that would be best suited to me and my family, one that kept within the budget and was built out of reclaimed timber that I had at the time.”

Viewed in its essential qualities, the house plan was adapted from vernacular architecture, which has been the signature of the atelier Yangnar Studio from the start.

It was built the old-fashioned way of Northen Thailand vernacular architecture by carpenters from within the locality. Clever building hacks utilizing a mix of modern tools and time-honored traditional techniques resulted in the superb vernacular carpentry of a true-to-nature wooden home.

From the look of things, the inconspicuous earth-oriented ebony building appeared unpretentious and capable of merging with the surrounding landscape.

Architecture on stilts features a mix of low and high elevation floors.

Tita House represents a marriage of the modern and the traditional. It’s rich in architectural features indigenous to the Northern Region.

They include, among other things, stilt house design that integrates lower and higher elevation floors to form a coherent whole. Essentially it’s about making appropriate adaptations of tranditional vernacular architecture that are convenient for and acceptable to family lifestyle needs.

As the architect put it, “The idea of integrating a lower elevation floor (the smaller building) in the design was adopted because there was a need for easily accessible under-floor space.

“Plus, it provided storage room for agricultural tools, food raw materials and articles for household use. Nearby, a higher elevation floor (the main building) offered plenty of ample under-floor space for woodworking, a casual relaxed sitting room and areas for the children to run and play.”

Under-floor space offers many benefits. Aside from creating multifunctional room, it doubles as a passive cooling system that drives natural air circulation.

This helps prevent high humidity levels in the home and keeps the interior cool in summer. It’s a more effective way to cool a home than building a wooden floor on the ground, which is prone to moisture damage, Teng explained.

vernacular architecture
The veranda that’s part of the smaller building is used for open flame cooking. Next to it lies a space for welcoming house guests and dining.

Right Building Orientation Improves Comfort

Tita House comprises two buildings that blend like cuts from the same cloth and are connected by a wooden deck that’s roofed over to protect from the elements. The smaller of the two buildings is used for open-flame cooking and eating, while the bigger building houses main living quarters.

As is often the case with vernacular architecture, it’s built on a split-level home plan. Cooking and eating spaces lie at the lower end, while the front deck and main living quarters are positioned slightly higher.

The area for eating and entertaining house guests lies to the north of the main building. It’s pleasantly cool and bright under the shade of trees that are the vital part of a wild yard landscape.

Winds blowing into it from underneath the nearby smaller building keep the area nice and comfortable all day. The main building that houses family living quarters affords a fine mountain view easily seen from the front deck connecting to two bedrooms at the far end.

Ground Floor Plan Courtesy of Yangnar Studio
First Floor Plan Courtesy of Yangnar Studio
Section Drawing Courtesy of Yangnar Studio
vernacular architecture
Seen from the outside, the two buildings connected by a terrace look onto a wild front yard landscape.

“The reception area is positioned to the north of the main building for it gets beautiful morning sunshine.” Teng explained.

“As time passes and the sun moves across the sky, the nearby smaller building provides protection from afternoon heat. This way it’s nice and cool in the shade for much of the day.”

vernacular architecture

vernacular architecture
The veranda reserved for guest reception and dining is covered in concrete block pavers with retaining frames surrounded by landscaping beach pebbles. It’s raised higher than existing ground level for easy access to the main building.
vernacular architecture
The cozy sitting room that’s part of main living quarters opens to the terrace leading to the smaller building.
The workspace comes complete with low-profile bookcases on one side and a long desk for the home office on the other.
Looking through office windows, on a clear day the iconic Doi Suthep Mountain can be seen in full view.

There’s a living room that forms part of the suite in the private house. It’s designed to conveniently connect to a workspace lying between two bedrooms.

The workspace itself is on the east side of the house plan with bay windows projecting outward from the wall of the building. Elsewhere, transom windows are fitted with weather-resistant insect screens instead of glass, thereby allowing fresh outdoor air to enter and circulate inside.

Meanwhile, long eaves that overhang the walls of the building protect the interior from the elements. The under-floor space beneath it is kept cool by design, thanks to the house floor that extends outward to form the upper covering that keeps it in shade for much of the day.

For the health benefits of early morning sunlight, the two bedrooms are positioned on the east side of the house plan.
The shower room enclosed with brick walls lies in the open air. Nice alfresco design improves ventilation and protects against moisture damage.
vernacular architecture
The west side of the main building looks onto a backyard vegetable garden where onion greens, collard greens, cualiflowers, and herbs are grown for household use.

A Product of Intermixing and Experimenting with Ideas

Tita House is the brainchild of the homeowner and architect who created it. To him, it’s a living experiment of current time vernacular architecture. It contains architectural features, building techniques and qualities that he has never tested before elsewhere.

“I had the opportunity of visiting a village in the North of Vietnam and Kengtung (a township in Myanmar’s Shan State) and came away impressed by the method of building houses there,” said Teng.

“It was very interesting. They started out by making flat component pieces in the shop or on-site. Then people in the village joined together to assemble them step-by-step to form a unified whole. In no time, a complete home was erected simply by connecting prefab paneling together.

“It gave me the inspiration to adapt and try it myself.”

Apart from trying out new methods for structural frames making, Teng also put other creative ideas to the test.

This new house of his was the outcome of those experiments. In a nutshell, it was about making appropriate adaptations that best fit the circumstances.

In the case of Tita House, the integration of a low elevation floor in stilt house design was something not seen very often in the North of Thailand’s vernacular architecture. In most cases, different elevation floors, if any, were kept apart in two separate buildings.

vernacular architecture
Flashbacks, prefab component pieces are seen being erected in the initial stage of construction at Tita House.
vernacular architecture
Structural framing component pieces arrive ready to be assembled on site. They are put together using mortise and tenon joinery with an emphasis on wood color and texture that are true to nature.
vernacular architecture
A perspective view of interactions between different elevations in the house plan.

Besides architecture, there are several internal fitments that are worthy of note. They include wash basin design ideas for preparing vegetables, washing dishes, and watering plants in the yard.

Here, pieces of kitchen equipment are beautifully organized. They are connected to the backyard garden below by a line of bamboo poles that carries water supply to a glove of banana trees.

For a neat appearance, the wash basin is crafted of teakwood paneling put in place parallel to the edge of a balcony.

Teng said: “From experience, I have done an experiment on teakwood wash basins for customers only to discover that most of the time they were too small for their needs.

“So I came up with a bigger size, put it to the test right here at home. Apparently it worked out very well. The large teakwood basin dried fast and required little to no maintenance.”

vernacular architecture
A large-sized wash basin crafted of teakwood is put in place parallel to the edge of a balcony. It connects to a line of bamboo poles that carries water supply to the backyard garden below.

vernacular architecture


An Unpretentious Home Made Attractive by True-to-Nature Materials

The two buildings were made almost entirely of reclaimed timber. Cut into desired lengths and sizes, the pieces were put together using mortise and tenon joinery to create individual component parts.

The next step was to assemble the pieces of the jigsaw to form a unified whole on-site. The materials of choice were wood and brick. To bring out the color and texture that’s true to nature, brickwork was not plastered in a cement mixture to create smooth hard surfaces, which translated into big savings.

vernacular architecture
To add a touch of nature to the room, teakwood planks that make up a wooden floor are nat stained to a dark shade.

According to Teng, “Most of the wood reused here came from old homes that were torn down at various places. For durability, they were given a coat of protective wood stains on site. For the most part they were weathered almost black and differed greatly in terms of the appearance or texture, a quality that gave the home its vintage vernacular appeal.”

All things considered, it’s an unpretentious abode that speaks volumes for what the architect and homeowner is about. Every little thing has a story to tell, whether it is about the ways of the community, the materials, or the architectural features integrated in the design.

It’s a home that conveys a great deal about a desire to reconnect with nature through sustainable living. And Tita House is doing exactly that.

vernacular architecture
A bird’s eye view reveals a peaceful front yard covered in the lush foliage of small trees and shrubs, such as basils, polyscias, and crotons that thrive among flowers. The south and west sides of the property are lined with native tree species that keep the house in shade.
The house merges into the rice fields, comfortably ensconced in the dusk of a Chiang Mai mountainside.

Owner/Architect: Dechophon Rattanasatchatham of Yangnar Studio


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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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A Renovation in Sync with the Times: Beautiful Mixed-Use Home Office in Petaling Jaya

A Renovation in Sync with the Times: Beautiful Mixed-Use Home Office in Petaling Jaya

/ Petaling Jaya, Malaysia /

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

/ Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul /

Working from home has become one of the various alternative methods of doing business in the aftermath of a Coronavirus pandemic that took the world by surprise in 2019. Adapting to change, the architecture firm Essential Design Integrated (EDI) interestingly transformed its office in Petaling Jaya into a multi-use space that blended with its downtown business communities. The updated package put a home office and living quarters on the upper floors, while the floor at ground level was rented out to a business selling soy milk pudding.

Home Office in Petaling Jaya

A Renovation Improves Light and Ventilation

Facing the New Normal, the property owner thought it was time to renovate to serve a new purpose. To begin with, there were two main problems in the original design that had to be resolved – light and ventilation.

The single-unit home plan was an elongated rectangle set along the east-west axis. It was 21 meters long with the usual narrow frontage to the street. As to be expected, the interior living spaces were dimly lit during daylight hours and ventilation was poor.

So, to create a bright and airy open-concept house plan, most of the room dividers had to be torn down. In no time, a restoration of the shop house that was part of a 40-year-old traditional building block was completed in a way that fitted beautifully into the bustling commercial neighborhood.

Home Office in Petaling Jaya

Home Office in Petaling Jaya

Home Office in Petaling Jaya

An Open Glass Façade Decorated with Plants

Chan Mun Inn and Wong Pei San, the two architects who designed it, said that initially the renovation project was completed a few months prior to the outbreak of Covid-19. At the time the interior was decorated with the lush greenery of a vertical garden on every floor.

Suddenly the Coronavirus disease came and social distancing became the norm. Everyone was keeping to himself. Soon the gorgeous gardens withered away and died due to lack of care.

The job of remodeling the home had to be done again differently. In so doing, the green spaces were revived to create positive energy and relaxation. This is evident in beautiful balcony garden ideas both in front and at the rear, plus the redesigned open glass façade that takes in natural daylight, fresh outdoor air and views of the city landscape.

Home Office in Petaling Jaya

Urban balcony gardens serve multiple purposes. Besides taking in the view, they double as privacy screens, filter out the sun’s harsh glare, admit natural daylight into the home and control ventilation, to name but a few.

To capitalize on vertical space, climbers and hanging plants are grown alongside an array of foliage plants that thrive in containers. Not long ago herbs, including mint and basil, were added to the mix.

The path along the front staircase is marked with container gardens at intervals. There are openings in the wall to let natural daylight shine through. To create a positive atmosphere, the entrance hall is illuminated by a moon-shaped chandelier, which can be seen from the outside.

Home Office in Petaling Jaya

Home Office in Petaling Jaya

Serving a Dual Purpose as a Home and an Office

Mimicking an open-concept home plan, the third floor comprises a sitting room, eating room and kitchen arranged in a way that improves traffic flows. Its space within a space design allows each area to easily change to respond to altered circumstances.

Take for example, the sitting room can transform into a workspace with coffee readily available. The meeting room can change into an eating room when not in use.

Home Office in Petaling Jaya
Like home, the office on the third floor is simple but cozy and comfortable.
A living room-style kitchen island can easily change into a workspace if need be.

Across from the extra-long conference table there are storage shelves that double as stadium seating for fun team meeting ideas. There’s a floor-to-ceiling foldable partition that separates and protect the conference room from noises when a meeting is in progress.

The fully functional kitchen that lies at the farthest end can change into a venue for social gathering or a workspace if need be. The kitchen island is also good for work or spend time solo.

The third-floor meeting room becomes a dining room when not in use.

On the layout of the third floor, Chan Mun Inn said:

“The chief architect likes it here better than other places because it’s a flexible workspace. Come by and settle into a quiet corner, bring out a notebook and enjoy the peace and quiet.

“If there’s a meeting going on, simply escape to the nearby coffee shop. People can work at any place and from anywhere.”

Home Office in Petaling Jaya
The top floor is home to the perfect office space.

For the sake of convenience, there is another set of stairs at the rear that connects to lavatories on every floor. The second, third and fourth floors contain workspaces dedicated to teams of architects and interior designers, while the ground floor is rented out to a business selling soy milk pudding.

All things considered, it’s a renovation carefully planned to blend seamlessly into the surrounding downtown business landscape. The architecture firm that starts from the second floor is easily accessible via the front staircase.

Architect Wong Pei San wrapped it up nicely. He said that essentially the renovation package was about “bringing home to the office”.

It represented a complete rethink of the firm’s strategies to do what was right and appropriate under the present circumstances. The results were gratifying, which earned the architecture firm a Gold Medal award from the Malaysian Institute of Interior Designers in 2021. Congratulations on a job well done!


Architect: EDI (Essential Design Integrated) (https://www.edi.com.my)


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An Awesome Steel Home in Binh Thuan

An Awesome Steel Home in Binh Thuan

/ Phan Thiet, Vietnam /

/ Story: Lily J. / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Trieu Chien /

Speaking of unconventional houses, here’s a truly awesome steel home located in Phan Thiet, the capital of Binh Thuan Province in the Southeast of Vietnam. It’s a small house that makes a big difference in terms of value, form, color and texture. A well-thought-out home plan, it’s where the heart is for a family of four who live here. Built in a way that steel frames and other elements fit in well with modern furniture, it looks the epitome of good design that speaks volumes for the family’s present lifestyle and their preparations for the future.

steel home in vietnam

steel home in vietnam

Meeting Basic Needs Despite Limitations

For the young family, a small shed roof house on 150 square meters of land makes perfect sense.

It fits nicely within their budget. To get things done, they left it in the good hands of the architects at MIA Design Studio to develop a good plan with all the required components and qualities.

The plan included all beautifully organized functional spaces suitable for the needs of everyone in the family. The initial design phase was completed during an outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the limitations in the ensuing days, the architects and the contractors relied on long-distance communication to finish the project on schedule.

steel home in vietnam

steel home in vietnam

Nurtured by Nature

The most important part of the design is natural daylight and ventilation. They are two key factors that contribute to a simple but cozy and comfortable atmosphere.

It’s for this reason that plain openings in the wall and the most common ventilation method are used to admit just enough amounts of light and fresh outdoor air to enter and circulate inside.

Where appropriate, curtains are suspended from the top to complement interior décor, separate living spaces, as well as control light, privacy and indoor temperatures.

Overall, it’s a balanced interior design that’s clean and fit for occupant behavior and lifestyle at present.

Steel Home in vietnam

Steel Home in vietnam

Steel Structure Home Takes Less Time to Build

From a distance, the house seems small, supported by steel framing and enveloped in corrugated steel siding that’s relatively inexpensive and ubiquitous in rural areas.

On the whole, it’s built strong thanks to the main load-bearing structural elements that combine with load-bearing walls to convey the weight of the entire house to a solid foundation.

Components that are usually considered separately, such as sliding door frames, furniture, curtain track hanging systems, even wardrobe hanger rails are integrated so that they become a whole — a smart way to cut costs.

Steel Home in vietnam

To save even more on construction, the house is made of easy-to-find materials sourced from the neighborhood, usually within a one-kilometer radius. This ensures that no money or energy is wasted on long-distance transportation.

That’s one useful hack to promote eco-friendly green building. Plus, modular design makes it easy to add extra units of construction to meet family needs in the future. All these things can be added without a significant impact on the existing modules.

Steel Home

Steel Home

By design, the even distribution of weight enables the building to remain strong and wear-resistant. This is achieved by taking into account every heavy and bulky thing, such as furniture, during the design process.

As the architects intended, it’s a home where the young couple and their little children reconnect with nature and experience greater joy in their lives. It’s a modest house plan conducive to a relaxed atmosphere and promoting socialization processes in the family.

In essence, it’s about creating a flexible, forward-looking modular design that’s the signature of the architects at MIA Design Studio.

Axonometric Drawing Showing House’s Structure / Courtesy of MIA Design Studio
Axonometric Drawing Showing Spatial Orientation / Courtesy of MIA Design Studio
Floor Plan / Courtesy of MIA Design Studio
Section / Courtesy of MIA Design Studio
Section / Courtesy of MIA Design Studio


Architect: MIA Design Studio (www.miadesignstudio.com)


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Never Too Small: Renovation Gives a Townhouse the Atmosphere of Home

Never Too Small: Renovation Gives a Townhouse the Atmosphere of Home

/ Bangkok, Thailand /

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

/ Photographs: Nattakit Jeerapatmitee /

An old townhouse in the heart of Bangkok’s downtown has been lovingly restored in ways that adapt to changing lifestyle needs. No longer is it a stuffy, overcrowded space lacking fresh air and ventilation. A redesigned open floor plan has given it the feeling of home, a sense of belonging and purpose. Incredibly light and airy, it feels like anything but a townhouse, so to speak.

Inheriting the townhouse from his parents, the new owner has made a firm decision to renovate it to a good state of repair.

It’s the place where he lives when traveling to the city for business. Or it can be available to be rented if need be.

The task of refurbishment was given to a team of architects from the design firm OAAS. Central to their work was the creation of an open concept home plan that’s flexible for multiple uses.

townhouse

townhouse

Accordingly, the old second-floor balcony was knocked down and replaced by steel framing for a light and spacious façade.

Upstairs, the entire floor plan was revised, while the ground floor platform was raised slightly to keep it above the edge of the water during a flood.

townhouse

Never too small to make a difference, the newly refurbished townhouse stands out from the rest in that its building shell is made of air bricks that are great for natural ventilation.

The perforated bricks double as a decorative privacy screen that protects the home from prying eyes. It’s a surefire way to improve air circulation and get rid of stuffy smells, a common problem of townhouse living.

townhouse

The wooden door opens into a surprisingly peaceful semi-outdoor room aptly named “Sala”, which is Thai for garden pavilion. Albeit situated at the front of the house, it’s a private living space that conveniently connects to the sitting room and dining area lying further inside.

Beautifully designed, it calls to mind an image of a garden sitting area with a side passage for walking along.

townhouse

The overall effect is impressive. The side passage sets this townhouse apart from the others.

Since it’s often impossible to build a walkway around a townhouse, it makes perfect sense to build one on the inside that connects the garden pavilion at the front with the living room and other functions at the rear.

townhouse

There is a challenge to overcome. Because the side passage takes away a large chunk of the square footage of the house, the designers have to make a choice from a range of possibilities.

Among them, an open concept floor plan is useful in making the home feel more spacious. There’s no need for room dividers for a home theater or TV lounge since it’s never a desirable lifestyle here.

Plus, by floating furniture, the owner is free to create a more intimate atmosphere and a layout that’s capable of multiple uses.


Owner: Jiramate Chanaturakarnnon

Architect: OAAS

Design team: Sineenart Suptanon, Sirakit Charoenkitpisut, Nattakit Jeerapatmitee, Jiramate Chanaturakarnnon


The article is an excerpt from “Shophouse & Townhome”, a proudly presented publication from the “Best Home Series” under “room Books Publishing.
Available in paperback (Thai Edition) at: https://www.naiin.com/product/detail/532110
Here’s how to order online. https://www.naiin.com/how-to-buy/read/1125


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MP House: Striking the Right Balance between Jobs and Home

MP House: Striking the Right Balance between Jobs and Home

/ Tangerang, Indonesia /

/ Story: Phattaraphon / English Version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Arti Pictures /

A house plan that combines living spaces and a home office could be just what you’re looking for. Here’s the home of a designer couple in Tangerang, a city half-an-hour’s drive from central Jakarta, that illustrates this. Known as MP House, it marries work-from-home essentials with well-planned living spaces that come loaded with personality.

MP House TANGERANG

The secret to a productive daily routine, the house plan combines residential and home office functions into a uniform whole. The workspace occupies the first floor that also includes a split-level lower floor, while the quiet and peaceful residential area is placed on the level above it.

The ample living area in itself is divided into two parts. Semi‐private spaces such as the living room and dining room take up the front part of the house, whereas more secluded places and bedrooms are located at the rear designed for rest and relaxation.

MP House TANGERANG

MP House TANGERANG

The first floor has a dry courtyard garden that separates the home office area from guest and kids’ rooms tucked away at the rear of the house plan. Healthy green foliage in the yard doubles as engine that drives natural ventilation and provides a light and heat barrier. And the result of MP House is a calm and peaceful indoor environment that’s the key to a happy family life in Tangerang.

In a sensitive and practical way, an indoor ramp with handrail is put in as an alternative to a set of stairs to provide access between different levels. The inclined plane is particularly useful for the homeowner’s aging parents. Plus, it’s the split-level house plan 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 combine into one large lounge with comforting earth tones and double-height ceilings. 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.

MP House TANGERANG
LIVE/WORK DESIGN
MP House TANGERANG

The house boasts a modern envelope and perforated brick façade overlooking a 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.

In the 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.

MP House TANGERANG
A dry courtyard garden separates the home office from kids’ rooms tucked away at the rear.
MP House TANGERANG
The breeze block façade looks out over a dry garden above the carport.

Taking everything into account, the house under a gable roof provides plenty of ample spaces to serve functional and aesthetic purposes. MP House in Tangerang strikes the right balance between office work and home life, creating a perfect combination that feels cozy, comfortable and roomy.


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

Lead Architects: Sansan & Tritya


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Urban Farming Office: VTN Architects’ Office Gives Back Lush Greenery

Urban Farming Office: VTN Architects’ Office Gives Back Lush Greenery

/ Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam /

/ Story: Phattaraphon / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Hiroyuki Oki /

The design studio of VTN Architects (Vo Trong Nghia Architects) sits comfortably ensconced in a plant-covered six-story building in Ho Chi Minh City. The 1,300-square-meter office block is adorned with balconies containing lush green gardens that combine to create a vibrant building shell. It’s a design based on an understanding of the challenges facing big cities and the importance of environmental conservation.

VTN Architects

Far and wide a lack of recreation areas and green spaces, coupled with rapidly worsening air pollution, is causing serious health problems for people in urban areas. It’s for this reason that living trees and shrubs are integrated into the ‘ building’s external envelope.

The result is a green office block that brings fresh air to the design. Here, easy-care trees cool the air, provide shade, and filter out dangerous, fine particulate matter. It transforms ideas into solutions as Vietnam, a developing country, joins a global network of advanced manufacturing hubs.

Precisely, it’s a design rooted in good environmental management practice that aims to minimize human impacts on surrounding ecosystems – a fact that’s easy to overlook when planning a building. Also known as the Urban Farming Office, it communicates a message that failure to do so will have unpredictable and often undesirable consequences.

VTN Architects

VTN Architects

VTN Architects

The Urban Farming Office isn’t just home to a design studio. It’s also a perfect example of innovative companies driven by a desire to go green in the workplace.

Plus, it gives back healthy lush foliage and a breath of fresh air to the city. That’s not all though. It draws attention to many possibilities of vertical gardening – techniques to grow more in less space.

From the outside looking in, the building façade looks like a botanical laboratory lined with decorative concrete containers where trees and plants grow. They are mostly easy-to-care-for native plants that thrive in local ecosystems. Where appropriate, seasonal vegetables, herbs and spices are grown organically to meet family needs. It’s a way to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

And it’s safe, eco-friendly, and even energy efficient.

VTN Architects

VTN Architects

VTN Architects

From a distance, thriving vegetation turns the bland building shell into a lushly planted living façade. Overall it’s a straightforward concrete construction with outdoor platforms attached to the side of the building.

These balconies are filled with modular concrete planters designed to be moved easily depending on the height and growth of trees. This ensures that each particular species gets sufficient amounts of sun to grow.

Combine biodiversity in the balcony and rooftop gardening with the surrounding landscape, and you get an expansive urban forest that amounts to 190 percent of the total project area. As the architect puts it, this translates into 1.1 tons of vegetation including native edible plants, vegetables, herbs and fruit trees carefully chosen as being the best and most suitable.

Also, it’s organic farming and the quality of being diverse that give the office building a cheerful and positive personality.

VTN Architects

VTN Architects

VTN Architects

Walk past the front façade, and you come before an inviting first impression. The window, doorframe and exterior wall are glazed entirely with glass to protect interior rooms from the elements.

On the outside, lush green vegetation doubles as a building envelope that filters out harsh sunlight while allowing plenty of fresh, outdoor air to pass into the interior workspaces. Plant watering is done using rainwater stored in catch basins strategically placed around the building.

The irrigation method that sprays water droplets overhead with sprinklers also keeps the ambient temperature cool, thereby saving money on air conditioning costs.

On every level, the open floor plan boasts clean lines that make the interior workspace look more spacious and well-ventilated all day long. All told, it’s the ingenious double wall design that makes living a whole lot easier and less stressful.

VTN Architects

VTN Architects

To give a brief summary, green architecture isn’t the only feature that makes this office building stand out from the rest. Rather, it’s also the image of organizational culture that speaks volumes for the determination of the architects who live and work here.

VTN Architects have demonstrated that humans and the environment can coexist symbiotically. This is achievable by letting nature permeate and be a crucial part of the city and any office design. It’s the way forward in creating a more equitable, sustainable future.

VTN Architects


Owner/Architect: VTN Architects (Vo Trong Nghia Architects)


 

A Wooden House amid the Enchantment of Lush Coconut Groves

A Wooden House amid the Enchantment of Lush Coconut Groves

/ Ratchaburi, Thailand /

/ Story: Patsiri / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Soopakorn Srisakul / Styling: Worawat /

This wooden house among the trees is literally a breath of fresh air. It’s situated in Damnoen Saduak, a district of Ratchaburi made famous by abundant fruit farms and a vibrant river market. Here, the secrets to peaceful, comfortable living lies in a healthy ecosystem that provides a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Reclaimed timber adapted for new use gives it a rustic feel. The house is built mostly of old wood recycled from much older homes. It stands canopied by overhanging trees alongside water channels for crop irrigation. Together they act as engine that drives natural ventilation keeping the home nice and cool all year round. With a house like this, who needs air conditioning?

wooden house
A pleasing vista of the quaint wooden house on stilts seen through the lush foliage of thriving coconut trees on the property.

Since its heyday in the mid-1900s, the Damnoen Saduak Canal has served as a major route for water transport in this part of Ratchaburi. Traditionally, wooden homes were built mostly at the water’s edge, while properties lying further inland were used for agriculture.

This 7-Rai piece of land (a little shy of 3 acres) has been 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, small portions of the water channels were filled in to make room for a new contemporary home.

wooden house

Originally, the family had planned to turn it into a small one-bedroom home. But after a consult with the architectural firm Studio Miti, they were convinced that house-on-stilts design, something slightly bigger, was the only way forward.

The decision in favor of a stilt home 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-square-meter home plan with double height ceilings.

The hardwood floor is elevated on concrete poles for stability and good ventilation in the lower space under the house. At the same time, weathered wood adds the rough texture and rustic feel to the overall superstructure.

This is especially true for the external envelope built of a captivating mix of reclaimed timber. The list includes Praduak (scientific name: Pterocarpus soyauxii) which is preferred for its bright reddish orange color, Mai Daeng or Ironwood (Xylia xylocarpa), and Mai Yang (Dipterocarpus alatus), which is light brown in color.

Nothing goes to waste. 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. The home is parred down and simple with no unnecessary features.

There is no guest reception area in the true sense of Western residential design. Instead, what is lacking is compensated for by a roomy communal space with a good-sized wooden table in the middle of the room. It fulfills multiple functions as a living room, dining room and space for relaxation and interactions within the family.

wooden house wooden house

For practical reasons, the kitchen formerly at the rear of the house has been moved to the open lower floor that’s made suitable for traditional Thai cooking. It’s an easy hack 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 partitions that can open to circulate air when needed.

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. They are so well-ventilated that there’s no need for air conditioning.

Wood offers many 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 even further. Otherwise, simple fans will do the trick. Outside, a canopy of overhanging trees and water channels make the home environment calm and peaceful. Come rain or come shine, roof eaves with extended overhangs protect the interior from the elements.

Beautiful House on Stilts in a Coconut Grove

Bottom line. It’s a design that make economic sense. As timber prices continue on the rise, the cost of building a home also increases at an alarming rate. Here, though, the architect is able to overcome the limited budget and deliver on his promise.

The result is a 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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