BY DR. ISAAC JAMIESON ARCHITECT, ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTIST
Small Medium Houses 3 is a compilation of 32 of the remarkable recent architectural projects of their kind, and by popular demand forms a sequel to the earlier volumes in this series. The selection process remains the same as before, with projects being chosen on merit from submissions and recommendations given by architects and designers, as well as through research undertaken by our editorial team. Twenty of the projects featured this time round are located in Bangkok and its surroundings. A further twelve are situated within the Thai mainland. These are located in the provinces of Chiang Mai and Phayao in the north; Nakhon Ratchasima and Udon Thani in the northeast; Chon Buri along the Gulf of Thailand; and the Nakhon Pathom, Saraburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan provinces in the centre of Thailand. One has the distinction of being located on Pha-ngan Island in the Surat Thani Province in the south. Quality of life, and how homes can enhance this, is evident in the schemes chosen. Whilst commissioning an architect to design small to medium sized homes is thought by some to be a luxury, correctly undertaken it can prove to be a highly rewarding investment that leaves a lasting legacy for future generations. The schemes in this present volume, provide ample evidence of this and are custom-made to meet clients’ needs and budgets. Often in addition to the initial brief, the profession, hobbies and lifestyles of the clients and their families will have been closely considered and factored in, as will their dreams and ideals, potential lifestyle changes that may arise in later years and the individual character of the sites. All such factors help create homes that are truly unique.
The fact that family traditionally forms an important part of Thai life is evident in many of the schemes documented here. Seven of the projects are built within existing family compounds in ways that allow their owners to thrive and maintain their independence whilst being there when needed. Three others are designed to house extended families. One is innovatively designed with distinct individual family units and communal indoor spaces within the house itself, and another is specifically designed to be elder friendly.
Three vacation properties are featured: T House on its sloping site in Muak Lek Valley in Saraburi; The Six Points with its panoramic views of cornfields, a forest and distant mountains in Nakhon Ratchasima; and KA House which is in the same province and faces the Lamtakong Dam. Somjai House, a permanent home, almost made the list of vacation homes as it is located in a resort owned by its occupier!
As many will be aware, commuting in Thailand (particularly within Bangkok) can be a very time consuming process. Being able to work from home, even part-time can, make a great difference to quality of life. Taking this into account, a number of the projects covered in this publication have been specifically designed to allow their occupants to work either directly from home or within the boundaries of their sites. Such initiatives can prove a shrewd investment.
The diversity of solutions shown within the small number of buildings reviewed is impressive. R44 House has its ‘no boundaries’ workshop area and library area within a separate wing to the rest of the dwelling; Baan Nawamin incorporates both a dental clinic and an art studio,
with careful integration of public, semipublic and private spaces; Baan Rim Kao also houses a piano school with recital area within its structure and a separate coffee shop within its grounds; Siri House features its own family run jewellery shop with separate entrance to the home itself; Somjai House, in addition to being the owner’s home and future retirementproperty, is the main reception point for a holiday resort; and Tinman House is the quirky dwelling of a book-loving researcher often working from home.
Three of the dwellings featured are renovations of existing structures. Aree House is a sensitive refurbishment of a first generation concrete dwelling incorporating traditional Thai space planning. The designers of both Sathorn Soi 9 and Siri House have adopted a different approach undertaking radical refurbishments of building structures that create new and exciting alternatives.
There are numerous ideas contained within the featured projects that readers will find of interest. As examples: A great deal of thought has been taken to create positive arrival experiences. In particular, in addition to carefully crafting the sequence of experience encountered at the external entranceway, much deliberation is often given to the design of the entrance doors themselves and their entrance halls to create favourable first impressions of a home.
Stairs and their landings are frequently used to make grand statements within the schemes.
Sometimes they are placed within double height volumes to accentuate physical connections and views, and occasionally are designed as works of art in their own right to add a refined air of elegance to the dwellings.
Many of the projects feature high ceilings to make rooms feel generously proportioned and add a feeling of expansion and luxury. Often in such situations clerestory lighting has been employed for dynamic provision of extra natural light. A variety of other techniques are also demonstrated within the schemes illustrating how to achieve favourable levels of light and plays of light indoors.
These measures include the intelligent and creative use of glazing, louvres and lightwells and the design of dual, sometimes even triple, aspect rooms that allow occupants to better perceive daylight’s and sunlight’s natural circadian rhythms. One of the most dramatic uses of screening to create changing areas of shadow and light is the innovative use of inexpensive bricks to create the latticework screens at Ngam Wong Wan House. Others are left for you to discover!
In many of the projects close links with Nature have been established. A factor that has now been scientifically proven to help improve health and wellbeing, and that many in the design professions have instinctively known for years.
Putting together this work has been highly stimulating, with the projects we were introduced to revealing their true characters in ever-greater depth as time progressed. In many ways they have become like friends, or an extended architectural family in their own right, as we took the time to learn about them and the many qualities that make them unique and enrich the lives of their occupants and visitors. We hope that you will have a similar experience and be richly rewarded. Look. Learn. Enjoy!