The first time we visited the site we were immediately struck by its location and spectacular views. The Main House buildings are sited on a prominent hill that face this beautiful sunset vista over the mountain ranges of Thailand’s Khaoyai National Park. 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 about how to slowly reveal this spectacular vista as visitors enter the property and how to frame it in the different spaces in the house, And finally how the al-fresco “taitoon” space underneath the “bridge” element could become a massive outdoor widescreen window that exactly frames the sunsets over the mountain ranges as they change throughout the day and the seasons.
The compound consists of three separate clusters of buildings; the Main House atop the hill with its six bedrooms, the Guest House which also doubles up as the Pool House with two more bedrooms and the Staff House which houses another four bedrooms. The Main House’s is divided into 3 separate wings so that when the three families come separately the entire building does not have to all be opened-up. The approach from the garage is completely accessible by wheelchair and leads to the house’s large shared living, dining and kitchen space in the upper “bridge” building. Down the hill from the Main House, the Pool House can function as a completely separate guest unit with its own outdoor kitchen and living areas adjacent to the pool.
As we further developed the design we considered all climatic and sustainable design factors carefully. The big question was, given that we are situated in a hot tropical zone, how do we get the fantastic sunset views without the uncomfortable sun exposure. We employed low-tech tropical architecture strategies throughout that include designing deep enough overhangs on the upper floor to reduce direct heat-gain to a minimum. Other sustainable features of the house include keeping all the buildings “skinny” to maximize cross-ventilation and day-lighting. The house is run entirely on rainwater. A copious amount of rain is collected by the butterfly roof of the Pool House and then stored in a concrete rainwater tank that is well hidden beneath the pool without major cut-and-fill thanks to the slope of the hill. As for the building materials, we chose those that are local, affordable, low maintenance and ones that would age gracefully over time. The roof of the walkway approach from the garage is designed with its position and slope that could accommodate photovoltaic panels if the owners decide to add them in the future.