House #11 II: new spaces and ancient references

by Marianna Ascolese

Compasses Magazine

Beautbureau is an architecture and design studio based in Bangkok, founded by the architect Bea Supaporn Vithayathawornwong, who combines within her different works an accurate research of materials and manufacturing techniques and a careful study of the human and social context.
Objects, furniture, installations, and buildings represent valid pretexts to experiment and research new techniques and new spatial forms.

One of the latest works of the Thai studio is located in a small plot in Bangkok which, through successive events and stratifications, tells us the story of several houses, held together by the memory and time that reside in the most ancient and changing forms of inhabiting places.

The first owner of this area was an architect who built a small two-story house for a family of five people.
After moving out, they left the house in a condition of neglect and carelessness, aspects that led in a short time to its complete demolition.
After about twenty years, one of the brothers of the owner proposed the construction of a new house in that abandoned area.

In the plot of about 500 m2 the project for House #11 II tries to give a new reconfiguration to the empty space left by the demolition in order to reconfigure the urban graft.
The previous L-shaped layout of the house is re-proposed in the plan of the new project with the addition of an additional part that completes the corner of the urban block.
The scheme is structured starting from a regular grid, able to accommodate the new blocks and to reconfigure a spatial entity characterized by a sequence of built and empty spaces, with rooms and internal courtyards, overlapping terraces and private rooms.

The house is set back from the street front on both sides of the lot, thus defining a threshold space. This, through a sequence of walls and metal frames, emphasizes the contrast between the private interior condition and the public exterior one.
Inside this “fence-threshold”, House #11 II is characterized by a compact basement marked by walls and large openings delimiting the open spaces and by a sequence of rooms creating a continuous relationship between the inside and the outside.

The ground floor hosts the most public functions of the house: the entrance, a large living room, the kitchen, a common space, a guest room, a garage, and the utilities. These rooms are directly connected to patios that alternate between open and paved rooms and more natural gardens. The basement, compact and well scanned, is connected through a system of open staircases to the rooms of the upper floor, which define the true character of the new architecture.

The blocks are imagined as real pavilions placed on a solid and material basement, characterized by a system of grid façades that gives a new recognizability to the project.
The research and experimentation of the façade, made with prefabricated panels in composite wood, is a reference to the vernacular method of manufacturing Fa Pakon wood panels that compose the walls of the typical Ruen Thai house.
The wooden pattern, reinterpreted in a contemporary way through the shapes and its dark desaturated color, marks the new added volumes and defines a compact, yet articulated spatial sequence of the blocks, explicitly differentiating itself from the basement.

The first level hosts the three bedrooms arranged along the adjacent building, while the study pavilion is located in the free corner and relates more directly with the street and the context.
A sequence of terraces, verandas and walkways connects the different pavilions, characterized by very high ceilings and generous openings linked to both the outdoor spaces of the city and the house patios.
The black wooden pattern embraces the pavilions and the terraces, alternating a frame made of black opaque walls with glass parts that allow to lighten the interiors.

The reference to the ancient architecture of Ruen Thai, translated into a contemporary key, is evident in both the choice of materials and the constructive experimentation, as well as in the distributional sequence of the rooms. In fact, the pavilions, conceived as almost autonomous elements, are defined by the bedrooms (Ruen Non), the living room and the dining area (Hor Nang), the kitchen (Ruen Krua), all developed around an open terrace (Charn) placed on a high platform.

Below the studio pavilion, there is a space that can be declined for various uses – thanks to the sliding partitions that calibrate the different spaces – and that relate continuously to the outside through the large windows. In particular, this space evokes the typical floor below the platform (Tai Thun) of the Ruen Thai, also capable of adapting and transforming to different conditions of use.

House #11 II, in a refined and implicit way, intends to tell the story of its evolution and to evoke the roots of a way of living the interior space that is based on the most traditional Thai houses.
The project takes care not only of the composition of the interior and exterior spaces, but also of the materials that delimit them, such as the composite wood of the façade and of exterior pavements – which is in contrast with the typical Thai marble that runs through some interior elements –, the wooden frames and doors, the brass accessories, the plaster that delimits the walls of the basement. A mixture that evokes continuous references and contrasts between the ancient and the new.

House #11 II

Bangkok, Thailand

Project Year

Architecture and Design

Bea Supaporn Vithayathawornwong

Project Team
Thai Wannasawang, Palm Nantawat Siritip

Structural engineer: Next Innovation

Engineering Additional Functions
Interior designer: Beautbureau
Main Contractor: Siam PYC Engineering

Size and total area
550 m2

Image credits
Spaceshift Studio


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