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‘Would it be feasible if a contemporary Thai house did not have to have a gabled roof?’ This is the beginning point for The Salient, which was formed out of the owners’ desire for a new home that stands out commercially and transforms its image from an old wooden house to a contemporary home without requiring anybody to modify their conventional way of life.
Estrange in appearance yet harmonious in terms of feeling and living in the most challenging brief that the architect from AAd – Ayutt and Associates design has to seamlessly put together those requirements. Apart from the owner’s challenge, this house also shares benefits with the community. This is another key concept that the architect intends to incorporate into the project as a small force for community development and enhance social coexistence through the design of private space.
Stand out amongst the old community
This house is located in Sattahip District, Chonburi Province, surrounded by old wooden houses, shophouses built in the medieval ages, and ghettos that have been together for generations. On the left-hand side of the land is a two-story wooden house. On the right side are the gas shop and the current house of the owner. Coinciding with the fact that the owner was able to purchase land in the middle plot, therefore, it’s time to expand and transform it into a modern house, where the first floor is a gas loading area extended from the current house, while the second floor is the owner’s private living area and the family’s living area. On the third floor is the private bedroom of the children.
“The owner wishes to rebrand this house as one of the Sattahip community’s distinguishing landmarks, owing to its outstanding look. However, I believe that the owners’ culture has always been associated with the upcountry lifestyle. So, I’d like to infuse that feeling into this modern-looking home. Consider Japan’s works; it’s not just the materials, but also the space and impression that remind them of Japan. Similarly, I would like to give this Thai house a different design, but the interior space reflects the Thai way of life that they are accustomed to.”
Modern in its traditional vibe
The design concept was influenced by the owner’s way of life. The front of the building adjacent to the road was planned to become a parking lot and a multi-purpose courtyard with an open court inspired by a Thai house’s basement. The designer left this space open, exposing the public to the façade of the aluminum structure that portrays the contemporary residence. On the left side, next to the wooden house, there is a brick block wall, which is common in rural homes and is constructed with patterns on the sides and front of the bricks to produce an intriguing light and shadow dimension.
Apart from serving as a parking lot and a gas loading area, this space will be transformed into a multifunctional courtyard at times when no automobiles are entering or exiting. It is sometimes used as a boxing practice area for staff, a waiting area during loading, or a resting place where neighbors may easily stop by and get some shade from the heat. On a nice day, they may even set up Moo Kratha (Thai Barbecue) and enjoy their meal and discussion even in the constraints of a modern-looking home.
This court can fully open to the public because of the two steel fences that clearly divide the area for privacy. The first layer is the solid steel fence, and the second layer is the sheer steel fence that can be wide opened to connect both layers into one continuous piece, or closed when the owner wants privacy.
Beyond the sheer steel fence is a sign that privacy is about to begin. From the dark-toned fence and the courtyard to an airy private court, where we will see the betel palm along the fence and the original brick wall, whose patterns were simplified to allow the light and shadow of the betel palm to fully display its naturalness. In the background, there is an antique two-story wooden house as a neighbor, with small windows as its opening. The view is blocked by trees with dense foliage, such as betel palm. Hence, privacy is out of concern.
“The COVID period taught us that humans are truly social animals. Looking at your plants may not be as pleasurable as seeing your neighbors and the sky. Human beings indeed need privacy, but sometimes they want to interact with people. Like this neighborhood, I find it charming. In 30-40 years from now, houses like this may no longer exist in the community. It was thus valuable to the owner since they had previously lived in a house like that and had been tied to the community. Every time the owner of the house walks into the house, I want him to see this view and the neighbors before opening the door into a neat house. This is not a design that completely isolates one from the outer world.”
Benefit both residents and the surrounding communities.
Inside the house, there are a living area, dining area, kitchen, and pantry which are connected to the balcony at the back where there is the betel palm fence as a greenery view and a small koi pond. The architect designed this zone with a floor-to-ceiling glass pane that opens the view to the balcony and the second-floor area while enhancing privacy with battens that can be opened or closed as needed.
On the back porch, there is a small door leading out to the outside for guests approaching from the alleyway on the side of the building. The walls of this balcony are made of transparent glass blocks. When the owner turns on the lights in the living area, the light shines through the glass blocks and reflects the side alley, brightening up this quite dark corner for the community. The benefit of these clear glass blocks is their blurring function. People on the outside can only get a hazy glimpse of what’s going on within. In the same way, partially seeing both inside and outside allows the owner to be aware of the surroundings. In terms of safety, a transparent material makes it easier for people inside the house to easily notice a cat burglar.
On the second floor, on the patio of the staircase inside the house, the architect designed the windows in a square mirror resembling a picture frame to focus on the view of the green space, which is the neighbor’s large trees garden. The next square window opens the view to the tree on the terrace. “As I borrowed a neighbor’s greenery view, I tried to design the house to give back some trees. Moreover, you can look far away and see the sea from this upper right pane.” The architects added.
In the design of the green area of the house, the designer also uses a method of drilling small courts and layering them on each floor. The resident will be able to continuously enjoy the view of the greenery in every activity that takes place in the area. For example, people who use the first-floor area will be able to see the trees on the second and third floors consecutively, increasing the perspective by distributing spaces in multiple areas.
The façade is the main shelter of the house.
For the private bedroom, there is a balcony and an outdoor tree chord as a corner for relaxation. It is shielded by an aluminum façade that AAD has been developing over the years. The first function of this façade is to screen the view from the outside in which the resident will be able to see the activities that take place without being visible from the outside.
“I don’t want the house to have a lot of windows, but cannot open when it’s raining.” Another important function of the façade is to provide a shield for the house, which is located in sea towns where the weather is relatively harsh during the season of hot sun, gusty winds, or rainstorms. The projecting façade thus controls the degree of wind and shade of light entering the bedroom. In addition, the façade also screens sunlight and transfers heat. The aluminum retains heat before releasing it via a large air gap built by the architect. This makes an enclosed modern house can truly comfortable to live in.
Something More: It is noticeable that the façade aluminum hole will be expanded in the area that needs views while small aluminum holes are used in the area that needs privacy. Any area where the façade is slightly open will be the area where the wind can easily flow through. The aforementioned method is know-how that AAD has learned and developed from other houses that have been designed.
It’s not just about living, but this house design also considers future maintenance. The façade near the master bedroom on the right side, for example, is designed as a hidden door that can be opened to service all sides of the house. It also connects to the owner’s old house. When it’s time for home repairs or when a technician comes to inspect, it can be done conveniently and systematically.
If we were to say that this house is “The most outstanding in Sattahip…”, it probably not too farfetched due to its’ highly modern appearance and distinctiveness, At the same time, this house is humble and blends in with the surrounding lifestyle. What impresses us the most is probably the design of the living space which does not try to change the identity and lifestyle of the residents who have long been attached to the neighborhood’s old community. Ordinary in an unchanging way, therefore, allow residents to be truly happy in their new house.
Aside from the concept of giving benefits to the community, designing a private house that benefits the public makes ‘Owners recognize the worth of their property even more.’
Photo Credit: Sofography