Khaoyai Sunset Retreat

The houses are sited on a prominent hill that faces a beautiful sunset vista over the mountain ranges of Thailand’s Khaoyai National Park. The first time we visited the site we were immediately struck by this location and its spectacular view. 

The main idea of a long bridge structure that spans over 2 lower buildings came to us immediately on that first visit. The early driving force of the design for the house was always about how to slowly reveal this main vista as once enters the property, how to frame it in the different spaces in the house and how the al-fresco “taitoon” space (underneath) could become a massive outdoor widescreen  window that frames the entire view as it changes throughout the day and the seasons.  

As we further developed the design we also considered climatic and sustainable design factors. Given that we are situated in a hot tropical zone, the big question was, how do buildings that directly face the hot westerly direction (for the great view) minimize their direct exposure to the harsh tropical sun? We employed obvious tropical architecture strategies that include designing deep enough overhangs on the upper floor to reduce any heat-gain to a minimum. We wanted fantastic sunset views without the uncomfortable sun exposure. Other sustainable aspects of the house include keeping the buildings “skinny” to maximize cross-ventilation and day-lighting. We also designed a butterfly roof for the Pool House from which a copious amount of rain water could be collected and then stored in a rainwater tank beneath the pool. We designed the project sectionally in a way that this massive concrete tank is completely invisible from all directions of the property.  As for the building materials, we chose those that are local, affordable, low maintenance and would age well over time. Material choices are always a difficult balancing act with the given budget of a project. But the key is to think and plan long term.


  • 2015 - 2018


  • Elizabeth McGovern


  • Los Angeles, California