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“We truly believe that a memory can invoke something in a person,” says the architect at the Housescape Design Lab.
When the 60-year wooden house of Phor Oui (Grandpa) that deteriorated by time was turned into a majestic design of Baan Jihang Saen, the renovated version of one-story family home that combines good old vibes, an architect team from Housescape Design Lab decided to keep some materials and compositions of the old house to impress the old memories, placing pieces after pieces to create a contemporary house that embraces all residents with the local senses to glue the relationship between the four members.
A new home from old familiar materials
As Grandpa was a carpenter who was fond of antique wood, the original house boasted wide arrays of wood that he had gradually collected from work sites. Red wood, teak, and teng together were created into a large unique house that features its own identity truly incompatible by others. There was no such a part that was perfectly built, yet it simply gave the warm vibes of a home.
The architect first intended to use the entire old structure of the building; however, once visiting the site, the team found that the structure was aging and deteriorated over time. So, they changed the plan to demolishing the old house and replacing it by a new one instead, but keeping certain materials such as wood, pillars, windows, and siding.
The design process was simple. There was no difference from other houses in general. That is, it all started from considering the requirements of the owners. The daughter wanted a minimal ‘Muji’ style while the mother wished to have a house with a gable roof and eaves to ensure comfort and shade from sunlight, winds, and rains. At the same time, the grandparents, who were really fond of antiques, would like to weave old materials that they were familiar with into the new house.
“As a designer, I just want to fulfill all the needs of the residents completely.” Others were just adds-on, so they were indeed about the construction process that needed to facilitate and clarify work of local builders. Moreover, this house served as a model house, with consent of the owners, where students from the Faculty of Architecture of Chiang Mai University could try sewing, wood shaving, or even demolishing and maintaining the old wood.”
In addition to well preserving the old wood, the architect also attentively added some other materials to enhance the look such as steel work, emphasizing the long-term durability of the house.
A space of the good old days
We’re a studio that thinks about experimentation on materials, to shape certain feelings in such a specific place. So, sometimes, it doesn’t need construction technology that much, because we want some senses that rise in between. We didn’t mean to design a place just for it being photogenic,” the architect recalls.
As a result, this house will represent simplicity that becomes gradually concrete based on their requirements, limitations, and the contexts. After bringing down the old house, there was 60% wood left that we can further use and the team needs to manage the resources well. How many pillars are left? Where should they be? Then, we’ll get into the design process which is based on our memories and the feelings the owners have towards the old house.
The patio, or locally called Han Nam, is one of the northern cultures, which is a semi-public space to welcome guests. It locates a big earthen jar containing water for visitors. Thanks to the purposes, the architect got some ideas. The team extended the roof to shade the patio area from sunlight, winds, and rains, as they are quite intense during some seasons according to the mother’s concern.
“The weather in Thailand is quite harsh. Having a roof over the area, I think, is the best solution to the problem. We try to avoid using concrete with these kinds of weather, as it will eventually crack and leak. When the roof completely covers, we extremely extended Han Nam. Then, there is also a Tern, or space for the residents to rest, or to accommodate guests. It sits next to the patio to help adjust the feelings before entering the main house area.”
For the main corridor, the architect wanted the creaking sound of the old house. The wooden floor is thus designed to add a finished cement floor for about 20 mm, making the floor flexible and offer soft creaking sounds. This is different from those of the bedroom, of which the floor is made from cement to ensure the residents can feel a variety of touches, even when walking.
Talking about other spaces, there are no differences with other houses in general. The functions are so simple with 3 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, Thai kitchen, and living room. What’s interesting in the minute details are such as the wrought iron windows in Grandpa’s bedroom that were originally from the old house. These elements make the new house surrounded by warm stories of the past within every space.
“One of the things we think is missing in the process of working on architecture is the life in between. The owners were bound during the construction period. It’s a life with a story. These requirements are thus in the way of thinking and designing of our studio. We try to figure out how to make them most comfortable during the year of construction and face no problems. This is another thing, apart from the problems of sunlight, winds, and rains, that we wanted to give them as a designer,” says Bell.
Built Area: 180 m²
Location: Chiangmai, Thailand
Lead Architects : Peerapong Promchart
Design Team : Pair Thiprada, Lac Soyjiin , Sirawish Jo
Clients: Churarat Wongkaew
Internship Supporting Team : Panuwat Donthong, Worapon Funong, Siriwimon Wimonsuk, Nuttakrit Panya, Phunnathon Phrianphanich, Thanakorn Namrueang, Chanapat janwong
Housescape Team Maker : Ruj, Tui, Cha, Fun, Tool, Uncle Boon, Mod, Banjerd
Engineering: Jar pilawan
Interior Design & Landscape: Housescape Design Lab
Interior Builder Team : Yellow Pillows Interior & Built-in Co.,Ltd , Chiang mai
Architectural Photographer : Rungkit Charoenwat