SEEN HOUSE – Riverside wooden craft house
that captures memories through light and shadow
What comes to mind when you think about your own home?
Some may consider a particular favorite spot, while others may consider the common space of the house. Some may consider only one corner, whilst others may describe the narrative of the entire house. SEEN HOUSE was created with the purpose of designer Khun Tle – Padirmkiat sukkan and the architect team from Studio Miti to generate endless new memories.
One house, two families, three generations
The architect who designed the house, Khun Tle – Padirmkiat sukkan, talked about the beginning of the house, which originated from the owner, Khun Nueng – Dittawat tiaphibul, who wanted to build a house for two extended families, one with his mother living with his sister and one with his wife and two children. After searching for information and understanding what he really wants, Khun Nueng shared that understanding to the architect, bringing in ‘wood – raw material – airiness – natural environment – photography’, which is all the owner’s enthusiasm to build this house.
From Thai vernacular design to contemporary house design
Shortly after entering the tranquil and shady village, the sight of the meager wooden fence, which is the identity of SEEN HOUSE, gradually became apparent to us. When we arrived at the front of the house, we noticed each component of this house was simply and precisely put together. These include the original trees, the lattice fence, the garage under the square columns, and the square roof with a ramp leading to the main door. Also, the house has an elevated basement as the architect intended to provide the residents with solitude while also allowing the wind from the south to flow freely through the house.
This house was designed with the concept of a ‘The vernacular traditional Thai group house’ that has been deciphered to be more modern by dividing the mass building into two blocks before connecting in the middle with the common area and the courtyard as a U-shaped layout (U) that is placed in the direction relative to the sun, wind, and rain, which is the heart of a local Thai house.
“I believe that people always want privacy, particularly in multi-family homes. So, we split the mass building to create a gap that is neither too close nor too far away, allowing them to see each other via the courtyard to generate a sense of connection.”
After entering the house and opening the door, you will encounter a reception hall or foyer designed as a Semi-Outdoor area with open air via the ventilation wall and skylight on the roof. The architect designed this front zone to act as the mother and the sister’s family space that is easy and convenient to access. The left half is set up as a bedroom, with extra partitions to enhance safety, while the right side is set up as a kitchen and washing area.
Next to the mother’s zone is a common area for both families to spend time relaxing or having a meal together with a view of the courtyard on the left, which the architect intended to situate the courtyard facing north to create a route for the breeze to blow coolness into the house.
As you proceed downstairs, you will come across a family zone, which is greeted by a big living room that connects the couch area, dining table, and pantry. The architect designed this area to be as near to the river as feasible in order to optimize everyone’s experience of the waterfront residence, which is one of the project’s highlights. Simultaneously, the architect built the sliding door to be able to move all the way to the right side, allowing occupants to enjoy the breeze and unobstructed views of the riverbank while continuing to the ‘terrace area’ linking the riverside and people. In addition to the living room, the first floor also features a separate main kitchen next to the pantry, as well as a secret office concealed behind a wooden partition.
“I believe that adding a balcony to the space under the eaves will provide many benefits because it makes the house appear larger and more spacious. We included blinds into the architecture of this home from the beginning so that this area is not simply an internal or external space, but a ‘space between inside and outside’ that gives the place a more flexible appearance. It also decreases the amount of light.” – The architect describes the corridor’s design.
Another language of light and shadow
“It’s funny that the owner uses the word Scene, which means picture frame or picture scene. However, because of spoken language, I misunderstand the word as Seen, which denotes never-ending photography. So, I interpret my understanding and design this house to have many photo spots where occupants can take unique photos all year round.”
‘Light and shadow’ is the core of photography. Just like this house, the architect has designed the architecture considering the direction of the sun and wind, believing that if we set the house in the appropriate direction and enhance with design, the beauty of light would arise naturally.
“There was a time when we liked to use vertical lattice which provide striped shadow. When we changed to a grid lattice, the resulting shadow was different. The shadow was not just a vertical line, but also a horizontal line. I thought it was a fascinating effect, so I attempted to apply this language as a tool to manipulate light and shadow in every part of the house.”
The architect explained the origins of the ‘light void,’ one of the distinctive features of the house built from wooden pieces into a square grid to generate fresh memories with distinct degrees, intensity, hues of light and shadow that change with the passage of the day, month, and year.
More interestingly, the architect added a mosquito and insect repellent function to the second-floor skylight which separates the bedroom corridor from the small courtyard by installing double glazing and inserting the acrylic sheet horizontally in the middle which can be moved on and off to receive the wind as needed and can also be removed and cleaned to keep it crystal clear at all times.
Aside from these light planes, there is also a light and shadow display in other sections of the home that reflects the shadows of the surrounding trees and nature casting inside the house.
Fun play between owners and architects
“On the day the owner came to us, I thought he was searching for something. At the same time, I was exploring and experimenting with the design direction. So, this house is an example of letting two playful children play together.”
Craft house is another definition for this house, since no matter where you look, you will find odd touches that originate from the ideas of both the homeowner and the architect.
‘Carpentry,’ the major material of the house that the owner has specifically sought and chosen, including redwood, Teng, Makha, Teak, Pradu, and other mixed deciduous trees. These woods are used in the design of the house from the structure to furniture and home decoration items such as
‘Hipped roof’ that the architect intends to reveal the cedar roof structure and try to design the roof to have uneven degrees, by designing the south and west sides to have less roof space to reduce sunlight and heat that radiates into the house.
‘Wooden sliding door,’ in addition to the multiple stacked panels and thicker rails than a conventional rail, the architect also designed the side rails to be able to articulate entirely with the door so that the occupants do not have to worry about insects. The architect also uses a special small hinge that blends in with the wooden frame.
‘Avail Window,’ another remarkable piece of craftsmanship that, unlike other items on the market, can be opened up to 90 degrees. Instead of standard door-window shock absorbers, the homeowner suggests installing gas shock absorbers, which are often used in autos. As a consequence, it is not only open as wide as desired but also provides a nice and cool swaying impression.
The ‘plastered walls’ appear to be basic and conventional, but they were made using a specific surface plastering process that accentuated the texture of the sand grains in the walls. When light falls on the wall surface, it adds volume and softness to the wall, enhancing the attractiveness of the house.
“For the uniqueness of the house, I believe this house sits on a balance between the line of experimentation and the line of reality. We experimented and searched a lot along the route, altering the materials and toying with the rhythm and each pattern. We like to think about ‘probability’ while assuming ‘possibility.’ One of the guidelines is to use drawing paper. However, there was an adjustment and listening to each other while doing it.
My experiments may repeat with other people. However, I believe that the entire design process is an experiment tailored to our and the owners’ interests. And at the heart of the job is mutual acceptance between the designer and the homeowner in order to preserve equilibrium so that we may see the same picture.”
For SEEN HOUSE, this house may be compared to a picture album in that it captures the tales and memories of architects, artisans, homeowners, and family members when they were building the house together and continues to record fresh memories of occupants in the future.
Location: Nonthaburi Province
Built Area: 550 sqm.
Completion Year: 2022
Client: Mr. Dittawat tiaphibul
Architects: Studio Miti