The Modern Thai House: Innovative Designs in Tropical Asia
Robert Powell, Albert Lim
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Author note: Albert Lim KS (Photographs)
A tremendous body of sophisticated and sensitively designed architectural work has been produced in Thailand in the first decade of the 21st century. The 25 houses in The Modern Thai House illustrate the radical new ideas coming from a dynamic younger generation of architects who are producing work comparable with and sometimes even surpassing the very best architecture in the world.
Most of these architects were trained in the U.S. or U.K. and reflect not only American and European sensibilities but also affinities with their contemporaries in Asia—including Japan, China, Singapore, and Bali—all hotbeds for innovation in modern design. The houses in this book are readily accessible from Bangkok, Phuket, and Chiangmai. They reflect a wide variety of concerns and solutions, such as: sustainability; responses to climate; strategies for cooling with minimal electricity; openness versus security in a large metropolis such as Bangkok; cultural sensitivity and responsiveness, as evidenced in a "three-generation house," built for a society in which the extended family is still prevalent; and cultural memory, as in the use of elements such as pilings, verandahs, and steeply pitched roofs with large overhangs that echo traditional Thai designs.
Nurtured by an increasingly knowledgeable and wealthy clientele, modern architecture in Thailand is emerging with a variety of innovative architectural expressions.
encountered and subsequently befriended Geoffrey Bawa, the renowned Sri Lankan architect who had such a profound influence on young architects in Southeast Asia from the mid-1980s onwards. The informed discussions that took place at these four gatherings fueled my interest in residential architecture in Southeast Asia, and in the early 1990s I was commissioned by Lena Lim U Wen of Select Books (later Select Publishing) in Singapore to write The Asian House,9 an investigation of new houses in the
region. I included five houses in Thailand, two of them—Baan Rim Nam (1990) and Baan Soi Klang (1990)—designed by Nithi Sthapitanonda of A49. Khun Nithi, the Chairman of A49, was the pivotal figure in my early research on new houses in Thailand. Through his firm’s promotion of the journal art4d, he has brought the work of many young Thai architects to the attention of a wider audience. Today, he continues to do this through Li-Zenn Publishing.10 Other houses that featured in my first foray into
while John Bulcock is a graduate of the Hull School of Architecture in the north of England. These six architects are responsible for eleven of the houses illustrated in this volume. The European experience is in one sense a ‘rite of passage’ that began as early as the reign of King Rama Vll when, according to Professor Pussadee Tiptus, ‘many Thai students, supported by Government scholarships or private funds, set out to England and France in quest of further education in western
AsiaWeek, Vol. 25, No. 50, 17 December 1999. SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY Algie, Jim, ‘Building a Name in Paris’, Asia Week, Vol. 25, No. 50, 17 December 1999. Bensley, Bill, Paradise by Design, Periplus Editions, Singapore, 2008. ‘Bunker House’, Room: Ideas for Better Living, No. 79, Bangkok, September 2009, pp. 70–5. Chadanuch Wangroongaroona (ed.), Thailand: Two Decades of Building Design 1968–1989, Sang-Aroon Arts and Culture Center, Bangkok, 1989. Chutarat Noochniyom, ‘A Smaller House’,
book generally show a grasp of the principles of designing with climate. They are concerned with orientation in relation to the sunpath and to wind. Overhanging eaves are part of the vocabulary that most architects draw upon, as are high ceilings, louvered walls, and the use of the ‘skin’ of the building as a permeable filter. It is evident also that architects appreciate that buildings in the tropics should be designed in section rather than in plan. The roof is frequently the most important