Monsoon House
Soopakorn Srisakul and Ayutt Mahasom

Monsoon House

Ayutt and Associates design als Architekten

Problems of modern housing today evokenot only because of a single-world universalization, but also a loss of connections to history, national cultures, and local nature. Material failure varies from place to place. The use of the same technologies throughout the world does not always take the uniqueness of places into their accounts. These challenges of engaging Regionalism critically and tangibly are left to be a responsibility of the architects, who will need to fight and seek for morecreative solutions in order to shape our society with care and sustainability. With a 10-year-plus experience in designing housing and architecture particularly in the Southeast Asian region, Ayutt and Associate design or AAd bringsuptheir talent andregional experience in sustainable design and demonstratesthemthrough this recently launched project, the Monsoon House.

Located in Trat, the easternmost province of Thailand, a private, peaceful residence was built along the coastline of the Thai Gulf—on the smooth sandy ground,embedding amidst the rubber plantation, and standing against the monsoon wind. It is in this astonishingsetting, mere steps away from the sea, that the Monsoon House was built and named accordingly by Ayutt and Association design (AAd). To minimize the monsoon’s impact on the building and landscape, the AAd team didfull research on weathering protection, as well as coastal erosion and residential privacy.

The language and logic of the house are designed in response to the wind loads and storm protection as its location, Trat, is known to be one of the wettest provinces in the country. Understand the topography of the locus and not disturb the coastal nature, the house compositionsare found on a horizontal plane in order to compensate for the strong wind. While the house is treated as a refined Tropical Modern work, it also respectively responds to regional climatic conditions, which is hot and humid year-round, and demonstrates the creative use of modern materials such as aluminum cladding strip with traditional elements such as wood and stone.

In the rainy season, life is a race, only the fastest person can escape the monsoon wet. This house possesses these seasonal moods. It becomes a statement of man toward nature. In this project, the use of the 10-meter-long eave is to protect the sheltered areas from the splash of heavy monsoon rains, as well as to provideventilationof air and humidity driven by the winds from the ocean. This extra-long extended eave is also a poignant example of the reinterpretation of a Thai tradition element, the steep gable roof. Here, the roofs are designed without the rain gutters, so as to accommodate the disposal of heavy seasonal downpours as quickly as possible. In the hot dry season, the same eave together with the trees carefully planted shields the house’s main structure from the strong sun coming from the south.

From the main entrance, the Monsoon House does not exactly present a friendly face to the monsoon season. AluminumStrips cladding from side to side and bottom to top is all that one sees, an opening for fresh air but hiding from the outside perspectives. An exact calculation of aluminum-cladding apertures reflects a context refined and natural resilience—could hardly be imagined. This is because they tend to equate engagement with openness, the measure of which is visual continuity or literal transparency. These aluminum cladding facades deployed throughout the master bedroom played a salient role in the passive cooling of the interior. During wintertime, they act as insulation, filtering the excessive coldness and moisture derived from mountains and the sea. While in summer, they keep the building naturally cool and reducing the need for air conditioning, together with affording safety and privacy to the room inside.

The path of the sun and the sequence of vertical and horizontal plains of this house also coincide with the rhythm of day and night. The master bedroom’s adjustable aluminum-cladding panels transform the connection between the exterior and interior spaces. When the master bedroom wants to reconcile with the outer world, the connection is displayed through its openings and changing enclosures, shifts in mood and patterns of behavior. The aluminum-cladding apertures regulate the light and secure the silence of the night. Its lighting-designed mechanism is a challenge, to make the master bedroom appeared floating above the pool’s existence. Themaster bedroom facades are a reference to the outside world. 

The layout of the house was initially planned to serve all generations of dwellers—from children to elders—with a universal design, which is usable to the greatest extent possible, regardless of their ages. Thus, the heart of the house is a swimming pool. At this point, its function connects generations together and creates a gathering space, reflecting the lifestyle of the extended Thai family. Its horizontal sun terrace reflects the activity of the day. At sunset, a shadow casts from the terrace steps remind us of the fading day, while the surrounding trees await the sunlight of the morning. Thus, the swimming pool terrace is the place the day begins and ends. 

The goal-route promenade through this house is straightforward, where each entry of the Monsoon House feeds directly into each family unit. For example, access to the master bedroom can be achieved by the private pathway close to the sun terrace between the main foyer and the swimming pool. However, the layout of the overall building components is still confirming that all volumes are relative. It can be broken as two family units or embraced as an entity. In this manner, it will be able to sustain the solitude of each family, at the same time, expressingthe living culture of having extended families. The boundary of each unit erases itself, as it combines with the next, to constitute the whole. With a plan to further build an expansion for the future extended families around the swimming pool, the central space is still being shared and returns to the singular.

As the interior confirms the existence of movement and touch of the family members, the exterior reveals its response to the gentle landscape. The movement of the ramp and steps open up to the landscape, and the landscape provides varying experiences to the house members. The intention of the designers is not to build a garden, but to planta neweco-living system. The areas of green contrast with the sky. The self-sustainable parkwith its landscape of tropical fruits, rubber trees, fish pond, and cage-free animal terrainis very precious and scares. The former existing trees are honored, as the landscape masterplan gives room for their participation. The trees turn toward the sun and wind and protect the building according to the seasons. The water pond is built in order to pay homage to the Monsoon rains. Its water is used to provide sustenance for plants both inside and out, linking the house with the cycle of the park. This honoring of natural context, framed in a place of genius loci, is the beginning of a search for a higher order of sustainable modern architecture.

Monsoon House, therefore,is another architectural design which aims to elevate the quality of life of its residents, at the same time, respecting the constraints of the land topography, weathering, local belief, limited budget, and voices of family members both at the present and in the future.

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