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Virtues of the traditional Thai house

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Raised above flood waters, Thai houses are cool downstairs with the strong afternoon sun. Upstairs at night they are cool. Thai houses reflect climate and life in Thailand.

Thai house

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A question of design by Assistant Professor Dr. Atch Sreshthaputra


...Traditional style homes were better equipped to deal with what nature had to throw at them.

Here comes the real rainy season...Lop Buri , Ayutthaya, Chaiyaphum, Pathum Thani and Nakhon Sawan are all affected by flooding

Flooding in the central region of Thailand is nothing new. Central Thailand has been flooded almost every year for centuries.

Our ancestors coped with the situation very well. If we look into how traditional Thai houses are designed and constructed, we get the picture.

Vernacular architecture always tells a story of local climate and geography, and it defines the way we live.

Traditional Thai houses have been built with an elevated ground floor to avoid flooding. When the water rises, the elevated floor helps protect the living space from not only water but also the many creatures which come with the flooding.

When there is no flooding, the space beneath the elevated floor is used as a daytime living room, working room or even dining room for the whole family.

As Thailand has strong sun all year round, the space is protected from solar heat to provide comfort. At night, when it is cooler, people stay upstairs.

The natural construction materials of Thai houses allow them to cool down quickly.

Heavyweight materials such as brick masonry and concrete are not used in Thai houses because they absorb heat, causing the house to get too warm at night.

That is why we see Thai houses being built with only timber because it is lightweight and cools down as soon as the night comes.

(Source: Bangkok Post, My Life section, A question of design,  28-10-2010, Dr. Atch Sreshthaputra, link)

virtues - the good qualities that a person or thing has
climate - the weather and everything related to it: wind, rainfall, heat, temperature, humidity (See Wikipedia) ภูมิอากาศ

equip -
to provide with the things (resources) needed to get a job done (achieve goals)  มีอุปกรณ์สำหรับ, จัดเตรียมเพื่อ,  จัดหาสิ่งจำเป็นไว้ให้
better equipped to deal with -
have more of the resources needed to get the job done (solve problems, achieve goals)
nature - all the plants and animals that live on the land and sea, and the physical world including mountains, rivers, etc ธรรมชาติ
ancestors - people who are related to you who lived a long time ago บรรพบุรุษ
cope - deal with and solve a problem
traditional - things (clothes, music, customs, etc.) that have been part of a country or society for a long time
we get the picture - we understand

vernacular - here: the way that something is done by a certain group of people in a certain place (originally: the difference between the local spoken language that people use at a local place versus the official formal written language of the whole country)
architecture - the activity of designing and constructing buildings, houses, and other structures (See Wikipedia) สถาปัตยกรรม
local - in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about ท้องถิ่น
climate - the general weather conditions usually found in a particular place สภาพอากาศ
geography - the study of the earth and how the natural world and human world is organized and works, including the weather (climate), rivers, forests, countries, ethnic groups, distribution of religions, plants and animals, etc (See Wikipedia) ภูมิศาสตร์
elevated - raised up off the ground ซึ่งอยู่ในระดับที่สูงกว่าสิ่งอื่น
ground floor -
the bottom floor or level of a house (on the ground, not upstairs)
living space -
the part of a house that people live in (sleep, eat, relax) everyday
creature -
a living thing, an animal สิ่งมีชีวิต
solar - involving the sun เกี่ยวกับดวงอาทิตย์
provide - to give someone something that they want or need
natural - found in nature (not made in a factory by humans) ตามธรรมชาติ
construction - the work of building or making something, especially buildings, bridges, etc. การก่อสร้าง
brick - baked clay used for building walls, houses and other buildings อิฐ
masonry - bricks or stones used to build a house, wall or other structure สิ่งก่อสร้างทำด้วยหินหรืออิฐ
concrete - a very common hard grey building material (See Wikipedia) คอนกรีต
absorb - to take in a liquid, gas or other substance form the surface or space around ซึมซับ ดูดกลืน
timber - wood used for building houses or for making furniture ไม้ซุง

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