Young married people these days tend to move away to have children and live separately, but Chang (Somprasong Sawat) and Bua (Buachomphu Ford) have brought their family back home.
“We’re all one big family, Mom, my sister, and my family, which right now is me, Bua, and our three young sons. It’s comforting to have relatives nearby. Grandma and Auntie help with the grandchildren,” Chang says with a smile. Kanika Rattanapreedakul designed the house: Chang had learned about her work from a magazine article about house design in New York’s Soho district, where Kanika was the single Thai woman featured among a number of Westerners.
Her design resulted in this unique 1,000 square meter home, divided into three main sections. The first part, in the center, holds the swimming pool and central area of the house: living room, dining area, and Western-style kitchen. This is everyone’s common area.
A section of the lower floor is designed for parking. The mother’s bedroom on the second floor has a classic décor. A vertical garden adds a feeling of warmth. The third floor is Chang’s sister’s domain. The right wing is surfaced with aluminum paneling, for a modern, fashionable “industrial” look: the family calls it the “tin house.”
“I collect paintings, so we have a room for them; in fact the room is designed around them. I favor surrealism and expressionism. You don’t have to understand everything to appreciate the art: it’s enough for it just to have an emotional impact.”
The ground floor next to the pool has a reception area for guests, decorated with Chang’s art collection and next to a glass room where Bua practices yoga or sons play with friends, neighbors, and relatives their age. The second floor is a mezzanine, with young Matt’s bedroom and a small pantry. Finally, on the third floor is Chang and Bua’s bedroom and two more small rooms for the children as they get bigger.
The design takes everyone’s needs into account in creating not only a beautifully designed and fully functional living space, but more than that, a place that brings together the love and warmth in the family, something that can’t be found anywhere else but here, their “home sweet home.”
Skillfully handcrafted of Siberian cedar, this ready-made wood cabin is designed to suit a variety of lifestyle needs, from a refocused life in the city to a perfect getaway on the forest fringe. Check it out.
A series of small serendipities came together in a happy way. The owner already had a piece of land on the forest fringe at Khao Yai. And the wood cabin design came in handy to turn her dream into a picture worth a thousand words.
“I wanted a small home and was glad to get one built on a limited budget,” said the owner. “I came across a ready-made cabin design by Me Home, and I knew right away it was the right kind for me. The home is built strong with adequate interior spaces at a bargain price.”
The wood cabin is beautifully handcrafted of Siberian cedar, the timber known for its pleasantly unique scent. Built fast, the handsome dwelling took only three months in the making, thanks to all the various parts that came custom-made to suit every application.
The modest one-story design comes with a bedroom, a living room with kitchenette, and a bath. On the exterior, a relaxed front porch is hemmed in by green spaces with plenty of fresh air from the nearby wooded hillside. The tiny kitchenette belies her unfailing love for cooking. The interior reveals a lifetime of journeys manifested in the mix-and-match style featuring beautiful ornaments and tchotchkes from flea markets across the globe. Experience as a flight attendant no doubt culminates in such a lovely ambience.
Small house design leaves large outdoor space for gardening and recreation. For visual continuity, native plant species thrive blending seamlessly into the wooded hillside. Together they add charm and character to the beautiful wood cabin no one knows is a ready-made.
Created by a master architect, this wooden house bespeaks the timeless elegance of Contemporary Thai residential architecture. Unmistakably brilliant. Check this out.
/// Thailand /// Story: Supachart Boontang /// Photography: Chaiyapruk Podang /// Owner/Designer: Chatree Ladalalitsakul of Tonsilp Studio
“I intended to build a house out of wood because our country has strengths in wooden architecture,” said Chatree Ladalalitsakul, a nationally renowned architect. “Use of wood is the roots of our wisdom and culture. It has made us self-sufficient in residential construction.”
Located in a Bangkok suburb, the three-story Contemporary Thai house is crafted mainly of wood and concrete in beautiful flatwork finishes. Its uncluttered interior speaks to the minimalist style combining aesthetics and functionality in ways that allow materials to show off their unique character.
Because the owner wanted his home to be perfect in every way, he gave the carpenters all the time it took to do it once and do it right. The resulting unsurpassed craftsmanship took three years in the making. The house emerged as a magnum opus in Contemporary Thai residential architecture like he intended. Striking the right balance, the interior showcases just enough pieces of magnificent woodwork, some of which rare in this day and age.
Activities are used to divide the house into two zones. There’s a 10-meter-wide open space that clearly separates the living zone from the office area. The in-between space provides visitors a place to chill out in the cool breeze looking out over the pool. The first-floor living area has plenty of room for dining, a Thai-style kitchen, and a piano room. The bedroom and private workspace are on the second floor. A multiuse space on the third floor is reserved for recreational activities and the owner’s favorite hobby, painting.
A culture of wood construction that for centuries has benefited from the wisdom of “our predecessors” is on the decline, he said, adding, “If it’s gone, our next generations will lose it for good.” There are merits in the house as it stands. This is one that bespeaks the owner’s passion to keep inspiring young architects to do their parts in perpetuating Thai wood house design and architecture for years to come.
RATCHABURI / A wood shingle roof emerged as we took a turn onto a rustic country road about an hour’s drive from Bangkok. The hybrid wood and concrete home sits gracefully amid patches of lush green rice paddies.
Nantapong Yindeekhun and his family sojourned in this part of Ratchaburi after massive flooding hit Bangkok and the immediate vicinity in 2011. It was the love of the bucolic setting that eventually led to them deciding to build a house here. To accommodate the needs of every family member, the new home took up a large space. The rooms are totally separate yet easily accessible to one another via a system of sheltered corridors.
The center courtyard that’s hemmed in by the passage lies within easy reach, while long roof overhangs protect the walkway and exterior walls from the elements.
A rock garden is situated in the heart of the courtyard canopied by overhanging trees. Looking from above, patches of lush foliage act as a curtain for privacy. There’s a home office on the ground floor that offers a calm and peaceful atmosphere.
The corridor and balcony rely on cantilever beams, which are cost effective and make good architectural sense. “I think cantilever beams are like bonuses that the main structure has to offer. They eliminate the needs for extra foundations and save time. Supported by the main structure, the balconies and corridors are 1.50-meters wide. The exterior walls sport the rustic look of old rice barn,” said the designer.
For this reason, timber materials are not chemically treated. Its durability relies on the quality of the wood itself. Takhianthong (Hopea Odorata) is mainly used. This timber is used in making boat piers and can tolerate year of rains and sunshine. Likewise, concrete surfaces are left intact to bring out their true textures.
“For the time being I am shuttling between home in the city and this country house. One day, should I grow tired of living in the city, this is the place to be. It is beautiful living out here. In the cold season, natural light is just about right, warm and comforting. You just have to see it yourself,”said the homeowner.
After all, it is the modern meets rustic charm which makes this half concrete half wood house a warm and humble feel like no other.
We have seen many Chinese-style homes built on ground level. This one sits on higher ground. Naturally, it is more difficult to build a home on a slope. But the homeowner decided to give it a go to this land in Phuket.
The property spans across a land of almost an acre. The 5-unit complex is based on an O-shaped plan with the main villa at the center surrounded by single-story annexes scattered across the landscape. Inspired by arcade designs, a garden pathway runs along the edges of the roof providing access to all units.
According to Voranuch Saencharoen who owns the place, a grassy hill at the center court reflect traditional Chinese wisdom. “The house was originally belonged to a Western gentleman and his wife. At that time, the land was half an acre. When we bought the place, a Feng Shui master recommended us to expand the space to an adjacent land.”
Kanit Tantiwong, a friend of the family, was responsible for the design. He initially came up with a beautiful Modern Balinese design, but the owner insisted on going the Sino-Portuguese style. Most of Sino-Portugese buildings are shophouses, not detached house. As a result, the designer and the homeowner had to do a lot of research.
As the construction got underway, Voranuch was seeking for materials from both inbound and abroad. “To me, building this house is also an experience to learn new things. For example, I learned that white plaster was used in the old days to cover wall cracks but it’s sensitive to humidity. So, I had to search for a solution and finally found one.”
Voranuch took care of the décor, while her other half, Thanawat Surachetkhomson was responsible for the structural enhancement and construction. Antique Chinese-style door panels were assembled from various origins, including Phuket, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai. The roof was inspired by ancient Korean homes, which in turn was influenced by Chinese architecture. The roof tiles were custom made in Thailand, with some tweaks in design. A vintage-looking charcoal stove was inspired by one of Voranuch’s trip to Phuket Museum. Only this one is using gas instead of charcoal.
Above all, seems like the charm of chinoiserie-style lies in the house’s old-fashioned doors and window. Ceiling-height windows were equipped with plantation shutters at the top and ventilation grids were added where necessary, creating a good balance between the old and the new.
“Saving every tree on the property” is the motto from the owner. Studio Miti designed tropical houses that blend in with the forest. As the architecture is the fusion of modern and traditional Thai tropical living style.
/// Thailand ///
Architect: Studio Miti, by Prakij Kanha /// Story : Wuthikorn Suthiapa /// Photos : Damrong Leeviroj, Xaroj Phrawong
At a glance, they conjure up images of little houses in the big woods. Four beautiful and tranquil homes are nestled in a surrounding forestland of northwestern Uthai Thani. The resort hotel is the brainchild of Chantita and Paisan Kusonwatthan. The owners 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 hotel, appropriately named “Bansuan Chantita.” Bansuan is Thai for garden home.
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.” 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 he begin work on the design concept. It took the form of a “plus” symbol.
“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. 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.”
The design scheme calls for the four units to be conveniently linked by a system of wood passageways winding through the lush botanical garden setting. From the outside in, the resort hotel 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.
The house 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 sign of use, while painted surfaces in a variety of colors serve as camouflage clothing that blends in with the surroundings.
Somehow it is the roofing made of steel sheets that often go unnoticed. Asked why he chose steel over other roofing materials, he 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.
So said the homeowner Pierre Vermeir recalling the story of his modern-cum-vernacular style house nestled in UdornThani’s Baan Dung District. Having lived in Thailand six years now, Pierre is quite at home with the Thai way of life. He is also passionate about the warmth and hospitality indigenous to the rural area. The house sits on a piece of property that has been the home of Nittaya Pansamdang, Pierre’s better half. When it was time to repair, the couple thought it wise to replace it with a new one. Kanika Ratanapridakul from Spacetime Architects was responsible for the new design.
“Pierre wanted a Thai-style house, a wooden one and not too big. He made that clear from the get go,” Kanika said. “As I got around to working on it in earnest, it became clear that the country home was for me as well. It was more suited to my character than other types of design. It made communication easy because we ended up pursuing the same line of thought.”
The first floor boasts an airy hallway likened to ground-level living spaces of the house-on-poles design. The exterior walls are crafted of timber in clapboard patterns alternating with glass Louvre windows and fiber cement boards. The three types of building supplies were chosen for their simple, clean appearances.
The architect explained “The house is built using supplies and methods no different from others in the neighborhood. Together the materials, the skills, and well-planned design on a budge make it a perfect visual blend with the rest in the community.”
Pierre is no doubt pleased with the result. The house stands in peaceful harmony with the rural landscape. The hedge along the perimeter wall is kept at the right height to ensure unobstructed views of indoor and outdoor spaces. The front and rear balconies look out over the lush countryside. The ground floor and nearby patios offer visual continuity to the garden and surrounding environment. The front façade overlooks a playground frequented by children from within the neighborhood.
The house represented a juncture where “Vernacular” and “Contemporary” styles were married. The house main frame was crafted of H-shaped steel beams for strength and durability. Only after that were other features added to achieve charming vernacular appeal. On top of its pleasantness, the house was created for easy, comfortable living, physically and mentally. Asked how he felt about city and country living, Pierre said:
“It’s not the same. Imagine having a home in Bangkok and then making a trip to Udorn. Compare that with living in Udorn and then going to work in Bangkok. The latter makes sense. It is comforting to know there is a country home awaiting your return, one that is peaceful away from the hustle and bustle of the city.”
Pierre now commutes a few times monthly between Bangkok and his new home. In future, he intends to take up permanent residence in Udorn. Life just gets more fun hopping a motorbike ride to a nearby market. He enjoys cooking and inviting friends over for dinner. Occasionally he entertains visitors from overseas. Speaking of which, it seems a new trend is fast rising.More people are looking forward to living “Life in the Slow Lane.”To me that’s life.
Sharing his worldview, Pierre said: “I want a simple country lifestyle. After all, life is not about just me alone. It is about reaching out and interacting with others in the community. That is what makes Thai-Isan unique and warm. There is a touch of country in the lifestyle, and it is enchanting.”
“Its simple Thai style home-on-stilts design allows ample spaces underneath. The second floor features a wood balcony large enough for multiple functions. Long eaves protect exterior walls from the elements. Opaque walls are put in place where the sun’s harsh glare is too much to bear. None of the interior living spaces are exposed to direct sunlight, resulting in comfortable living conditions.”
/// Thailand ///
Story: Supachart Boontang /// Photo: Sitthisak Namkham/// Architect: Arsom Silp Institute of the Arts
Homes based on simple design are oftentimes the most comfortable to live in. That has a lot to do with finding the right balance between functionality and the house’s overall dimensions – or how big it is. Easy living can be achieved without spending a fortune on sophisticated decorative details. There is plenty of evidence in a suburban home that I am about to show you right now.
Our crew visited this home in a Rama 2 neighborhood known for its simple lifestyle. We witnessed people go about their business in ways that are distinctive to a riparian community. We also noticed that change was just around the corner. The home’s design and build quality represent a confluence of ideas between traditional wisdom and modern technology. Equally interesting is the home’s journey through time. Let’s hear it from the owners, Charatsri Sribumrungkiat.
“I acquired this piece of land thanks to assistance from Arsom Silp Institute of the Arts. It was part of an effort to provide affordable housing for the institute’s instructors. The program has aided teachers in buying real estate at cost price. This one is known as Baan Bang-gru, which means teacher’s home,” the owner explained.
Nanthapong Lertmaneethaweesap, of Arsom Silp Institute of the Arts, designed the three-story home. As he put it:
“In my opinion, this piece of land has great potential. It has good views both of the lake and the canal. The front façade sits facing south and the house is oriented along the east-west axis. This enables it to get full benefits of southerly winds. The home fits in well with a typical riparian setting. It’s simple house-on-stilts design allows ample spaces underneath. The second floor features a wood balcony large enough for multiple functions. Long eaves protect exterior walls from the elements. Opaque walls are put in place where the sun’s harsh glare is too much to bear. None of the interior living spaces are exposed to direct sunlight, resulting in comfortable living conditions.”
The home sat on a 120-square-wah piece of land and was built on a budget some 20 percent less than the average home of the same size. This was possible because as much as 90 percent of lumber supplies came from reclaimed wood and other recyclables. New lumber accounted for only about 10 percent. His sister was good at finding recyclable ideas and putting them to good use around the house. That not only saved a lot of money, but it also filled the home with cool pieces of furniture.
The house raised on concrete piles provides ample multi-use spaces underneath. The open ground floor means everything is easily accessible from here, be it the little lake in front of the property or the peaceful waterway behind it. It is the area that is used all day every day for relaxing, dining, watering and pruning plants. Correct orientation ensures the home receives full benefits from natural ventilation that keeps it cool even during summer months.
Originally the owners had intended to build a two-story home but later decided to raise it on concrete piling. The makeover resulted in the first floor becoming second, and the old second becoming third. There are good-sized seating spaces on the second floor along with dining area and kitchen that will be used if there is flooding. The main kitchen is on the ground floor. The third floor is reserved for three bedrooms and a Buddha room.
The exterior walls are inspired by rice storage buildings, in which vertical studs are installed on the outside and horizontal wood palettes on the inside. The edge joint technique that has existed for a long time ensures the wall is water impermeable during rains.
In a nutshell, this has been a home designed to fit in well with nature. The interior spaces are uncluttered in keeping with the minimalist style, while the exteriors showcase the architecture and waterfront living that are quintessentially Thai.