Somjai House : New taste of locality 1.Inspiration| Local architecture of Thailand has never changed for longtime ago. Using the same techniques, borrowing the same elements from ancestor, becoming the underdeveloped and disrespecting of local craftsmanship and work men, all are truly crisis of local Thai architecture circle. The architecture design of Somjai House aims to explore a new taste, elements and techniques of traditional architecture based on the specific local condition and place. 2. Context| Somjai House is located on the mid of tropical coconut plantation at Phangan island. South side of the house faces to greenery coconut plantation, blue sea and Samui island. North side of the house is a main street and hills. The main color used for Somjai house was red due to the main materials as bricks. The design is intentionally to make the building stand out from the green of the coconut plantation and the blue of the sea. 3.Architecture design and the location| The location of the house is Phagnan island where is the Tropical Monsoon Climate (Am) zone. The rainy season alternates with the dry season each lasting 6 months. Average temperatures range from 18 to 27 degree Celsius. 3.1 Building Orientation| The building lay out was designed the short both sides as opaque brick wall in order to protect heat from the east and the west direction. The residential part was located at the east side. It is avoided heat from the evening of the west side before sleeping at the night time. Another opposite short side of opaque brick wall was designed to block heat directly from the west direction. 3.2 Wind flow| The line of the architecture form of the house is relating to the skyline of hills behind the building which allows the wind from the sea side to flow smoothly with the curvy design. The wind flow from the bigger opening of the deck side to the 3 smaller slot windows is let the wind flow not too strong and appropriate for users in side each room. 3.3 Hot sun light| The cantilever concept of the solid concrete slab of the deck side was used to protect the building from the south sunlight. The concrete slab was designed to be thin as much as possible so that it allows to take as much as view of the seaside as well. The roof was designed to lean to the north side as well. It was made from steel structure, covered with insulated metal sheets and applied as plywood sheets for ceilings. The air gab between the roof and the ceiling was designed to conduct heat and release it into bath room area. 3.4 Rain| The roof was designed to connect with the concrete slab and slope down from deck side to water pond side. It let the rain water flows through the bathroom wall and collected water to the fish pond. 3.5 Open - Close View| The deck side of the building was designed with open angle to receive the full view of the sea and stand in between both coconut trees appropriately. The opposite side wall was designed as the opaque tall brick wall. It provides to make more privacy from street to bed room units area. 4.Local materials and Handmade techniques. 4.1Brick| Somjai house was decided to use brick not only fit for local construction worker expertise but it has been the material due the cooling property to protect the house from the heat as well. In fact, technically, brick quality produced in Phangan island that is not all in good standard. The good quality bricks were used as building construction and the bad quality bricks were used as walking ways around. The bricks walking ways were design intentionally to make the ground more stable and reduce the decay of the ground surface from the heavy rain. 4.2Polished concrete surface| The concrete edge technique was explored to apply on the brick walls that normally local workers use this technique for making sharp edge of walls before polishing concrete. To protect polished concrete walls from cracking surface, technically the walls were applied water repellent gloss after polished concrete walls dry for 1 week. 4.3Concrete Slab| The details of the “finned” raw concrete walls and slab are equally in line with the local discourse, as the use of coconut wood from construction site which as models that, when removed, leave a coconut tree pattern behind communicates a character native to Phangan island. 4.4Bamboo| The house was used the bamboo to design and further decorate in many changeable parts such as storage walls. External bamboo walls were created with a slanting pattern that could match the external polished concrete. To use bamboo for construction, treating them from insect, is necessary. The bamboo was treated naturally by immersing them into the sea for 2 weeks and then exposing to the sun. Sea water has the ability to reduce sweet inside the bamboo which is food for insects. 4.5Thin iron plate| The thin iron staircase that led to the roof also shows the craftsmanship of local workmen. These workmen were typically employed on the island’s piers where they welded metal bridges and were therefore well aware of the nature of the metal and how fine it should be, as well as how much weight it could carry. Their expertise allowed for the use of thin sheets of metal to build the staircase leading to a beautiful shadow effect that catches the sun of Phangan island in just the right way. 5.Function| The building consists of bedrooms with bathrooms and a pantry. The main hall of the building serves as a flexible-multi-purpose space. It can be used as a living space or even a yoga area. The upper deck was designed to provide panoramic view of the surrounded coconut plantation, the sea, Samui island and the hills. 6.Conclusion| Somjai house comes out with a different perspective from other traditional and local architecture. This house has shown the evidence that inexpensive local materials are able to reflect as rich of materials effect as its locality.Certainly, Somjai house is truly reflective of its present context.
Nutthawut Piriyaprakob/Biography. After receiving his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Khonkaen University, Thailand in 2001, he began his career by working as an architect on Suvarnabhumi Airport project designed by Murphy Jahn and, then, moved on to work as a project architect at IT international co, ltd, Bangkok. In 2004, he received a graduate assistantship from College of Architecture and Planning, Ball State University, USA for his Master of Architecture degree. During his study at Ball State, he took a leave of absence from school for his internship at Morphosis architects. After graduated from Ball State in 2006, He worked as an architect for Rafael Vinoly architects in New York and, then, at SOM, Washington DC. During his years of studying and working in USA, he also received personal competition awards from Spain and Russia. In 2009, he returned to Bangkok, in order to establish NPDA studio and serves as a visiting lecturer in many architecture schools in Thailand.