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We always feel excited to visit a house, as it is a chance we can learn and observe the personalities and identity of the owner, to what extent those characteristics have been woven into the architectural elements. It may be a matter of style and way of life, or, sometimes, a little of each is blended and mingled to create a dwelling that is specially and perfectly made for the person.
During our visit to Khon Kaen this time, we enjoyed a comfortable talk in a newly built white box house of Kai-Chantanee Chiranthanut, an architect and lecturer from the Faculty of Architecture, Khon Kaen University, and Nutt La-iad-on, an architect of JOYS studio. The house showcases itself in a minimal style, yet a flawless combination of design, passions, and simple lifestyle of the two.
As safety is priority, the house is privately enclosed
Nutt is originally a dweller of Ubon Ratchathani province while Kai was born in Chiang Mai. This means both of them are not locals and just recently moved to settle in the city of Khon Kaen. Apart from that fact, Kai is a lecturer who formerly lived in a dormitory set within the campus while Nutt had been a Bangkokian and condominium resident for many years. Due to the nature of the premises they used to live in, security wasn’t their big concern back then. However, when it came to building their own house, the very first thing to think about was security and privacy.
At first, we wished to have a court within the house area with the outside being completely opaque, but at last we were afraid that if it happens to have someone sneaking through, we wouldn’t be able to notice. So, this means that the house requires privacy, and, at the same time, needs to be airy,” says Kai.
As a result, the house is designed to be encased by a frame-like structure, starting from the front gate, court, and the vent bricks that come in simple shapes, but arranged in special patterns. These layers, when aligned, feature depth and dimensions that limit views from the outside. However, the residents can still enjoy the outside scenery from the inside.
The layout enables the house to open up and embrace the views with an entrance that leads a walk way from the garden, allowing the residents to enjoy the lush greenery of the lawn and natural breezes without having to be worried about their neighbors. Moreover, the façade of the house is also open to the garden. The façade wall features openings along the terrace to enhance airiness within the house. If open, it can connect the garden area to the living room, dining room, and spaces on the side of the house. If closed, it forms an enclosed boundary which is secure and safe.
Something More: In addition to the security and vigilance concerns, the area around the house is paved with gravels to make sure that the owners recognize when someone is visiting or whenever there is something getting in. Additionally, with this type of flooring, it ensures dryness as it segregates the boundary between the ground and the concrete flooring of the terrace, which also helps in terms of insects.
“Though the quantity may not be that large, we feel that these books are truly something for the two of us.” Nutt talks about the books neatly put on the shelves. With this, we can easily guess that books have become one of the factors to be taken into account when building the house.
Because the two have collected books as their hobby and they’re something very precious to them, the design of the space needs to both support the residents and be good for the books. Kai likes to clearly segregate the dry and the wet area of the house, thus they raise the floor for around 0.70-1 meters to allow air flow all the time. The seating area and desk corner are designed to be surrounded by architectural bookshelves, which best represent their leisure activity. The Thai kitchen extends to cover the area at the back of the house to clearly set a space for cooking to make sure that cooking smell will not cling to or damage the books.
Simple maintenance, flexibility, and adaptability
“Cleanliness, for us, always comes first. We don’t hire a maid, so we take care of everything ourselves and a home that is easy to take care of is something we really need.”
That’s why this white house is so perfect as a one-story house design. It is easy to take care of, whether today or in the future when the couple is getting older. And it also has a simple, uncomplicated layout. Moreover, it needs to be flexible and adaptable, as the couple has a plan to turn the current living area of the house into an office space in the future. Each room thus has no boundaries and is all connected, whether the living room, work corner, dining room and pantry, or even the terrace at the back of the house. The main pieces of furniture in the house are rearrangeable to make it easier to move and adjust the space. This is except for the built-in bookshelves that are fixed to the wall, while the ceiling is not too high so that it is easy for maintenance.
“We have quite a lot of friends. When they visit us, spaces can all be connected. We made a bathroom outside too for guests. If we open all the doors, all the rooms will be in the same flow and people can see one another.”
Something More: “Another thing is that we do a lot of laundry. We do it all day, around 4 times a day. Every time we go out, when we come back in, we have to wash everything, towels, sheets, so we decided to locate the washing and drying area within the house, with a terrace where we can fully get the sunlight. It’s for when we’re not in a mood to go to the lawn and dry the clothes.”
The right size home with a limited budget
Inside this house, everything is simple and nothing is fancy. It’s because the owners have worked as an architect and they wanted to have the house built within a limited budget. Both told us that “we have the plan that we want, but we need to further discuss with the contractor and the engineer along the way whether, with the limited budget, is it possible to use that specific column spanning, grids. At first, we wanted a load-bearing wall that comes with no columns. But after thinking about it, it needs a high budget, so we decided to separate the body of the columns to reduce the budget. It’s easier for construction. Well, the contractor would let us know whether it is possible to do the whole construction with the budget we have and we always discussed with him.
Despite having a limited budget, their preferences and needs that meet the simple and ordinary lifestyles of the couple are fully accommodated by this one-story house. Underneath the smooth box-shaped building hides the subtleties of the design that they both love. For example, the phenomenon of light and shadow, change of composition. There is a context of nature to blend in, little by little, until it becomes a house that embraces a story of the two lives.
“If you look closer, there are also things that don’t match up. But we don’t mind. It’s not just a show house,” says Nutt.
Architect : Chantanee Chiranthanut, Nutt La-iad-on
Location : Khonkaen , Thailand
Construction : Dot Architect
Photo : Jinnawat Borihankijanan