21st century Siam

Forget about the typical wooden Thai home for a while, The Modern Thai House has nothing much to do with pointed roofs and stilts.

THE MODERN THAI HOUSE By Robert Powell Photography by Albert Lim KS Published by Tuttle, 224pp ISBN 978-0-8048-4278-5 Available at Asia Books.

The book features 25 houses, both primary residences and vacation homes, located in Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai. It is the second book by writer/architect Robert Powell - his first title, The New Thai House, was published almost a decade ago.

The featured houses are praised by Powell as works comparable with, or even surpassing, the very best architecture in the world. They are designed by a younger generation of emerging architects trained overseas who manage to combine their Western knowledge with Asia's contemporary quality.

The book starts with an introduction to Thai houses, designed by both Thai and international architects from 2002 to 2012. In this chapter, the writer also touches on the sustainability and cultural memory of some of the houses.

Some traditional qualities can be found in the modern Thai homes. DKFF House is a case of East-meets-West. It features a pitched roof resembling that of a traditional Thai house, shunned by most young architects as being too traditional and lacking in innovation.

But architect Kanika Ratanapridakul called it an attempt to discover new contemporary design possibilities because a pitched roof is very practical and perfect for the tropical climate of Thailand.

Located by Klong Bangkok Noi, an old district of the capital, Harirak House is designed by architect Bundit Kanisthakhon of Tadpole Studio. It combines modern design influenced by Hasan Uddin-Khan (former editor of Mimar) in the structural layout, with references to a traditional Thai house seen in the wooden French windows.

But not all the buildings featured in this book resemble the traditional style - Lampyris in Khao Yai, constructed of concrete and glass, is completely modern. Located by Wat Mongkut Kiriwan and the hill, architect Ponlawat Buasri made the house multi-level, allowing each room its own view.

About the author

Writer: Sirinya Wattanasukchai
Position: Reporter