by Jerry ElengicalJan 27, 2023
"The trend of people building homes away from the city not only provides opportunities for interesting and relaxing work-from-home spaces but also separates users from the ills of crowded urban areas. Normally a vacation home is equipped to take in one generation of the family at a time. If parents come with their adult friends, their children generally prefer staying home and vice-versa,'' shares the team at Stu/D/O Architects, while reflecting on their latest project, Radial House in Khao Yai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand. They continue, “This is not the case with Radial House. It can hold two generations at the same time so that all inhabitants can unwind with friends and also connect with family as they please." Realised by the Bangkok-based firm as a two-storey multi-generational vacation home, the residence’s design echoes the smooth curves of the terrain around its lakeside context, adopting a naturalistic design vocabulary expressed in raw concrete, wood, stone, and Marquina marble.
Built for a family that frequently entertains and hosts guests, the home is settled upon the shores of a large body of water, with stunning views of the nearby fields and mountains - to make residents feel more in tune with nature as they recharge. Owing to the unique nature of the client’s requirements - that of housing and providing facilities for two distinct age groups to engage in recreational activities, the architects have articulated the home’s spaces along a pair of separate cuboidal volumes, bound together by an arcing pathway which completes the circular quadrant-shaped plan that is the source of the project’s name. Cantilevers, clean lines, smooth curves, and narrow overhangs define the appearance of the residence on this side, adjacent to the lake.
On the other end, towards the north-facing edge of the site that borders the main road, a landscaped frontage guides visitors towards the driveway and main entrance. This zone is bordered by a central courtyard that separates the structure’s two wings. An outdoor deck and dining space is settled beneath the suspended eastern volume of the first floor, which is held aloft by slender cylindrical columns, housing three bedrooms for the family along with a master suite. While the road-facing end of this outdoor zone connects to the servants’ quarters to the northeast, the southern end is occupied by a black metal staircase, at the vertex between the linear and curved sections of the plan.
The layout of this wing commences with a curved enclosure that contains a combined living and dining area, supported by a bar, storage, and kitchen towards the rear. Panoramic floor-to-ceiling glazing frames views of the lake through vertical mullions that add movement and rhythm to the scene. A ribbed wooden ceiling completes the effect, cementing the tropical modernist aesthetic of the interior design. High ceilings are employed in most interior spaces to minimise the contrast in transitions between interior and exterior zones. From here, the space flows into the arcing pathway which runs along the shore of the lake towards the auxiliary leisure space for the younger generation of the family on the upper level.
Mimicking the outline of the water's edge, the curving track slopes up to provide a bridge between the wings at two different heights. The team at Stu/D/O Architects shares in an official statement, “The simple slope - a clear and direct form within the architectural lexicon, conveys the humbling and relaxing atmosphere that was intended for this vacation home." As one of the defining elements of the façade design, the pathway is shaded by a slender set of canopies running along the stairs and adjoining ramp, which frame a tree court, cut out from the centre of the curving structure. As per the Thai architecture firm, bringing this element to life was the most challenging aspect of the design, particularly due to its unique geometry as well as the visible absence of intermediate supports along its span.
Connecting leisure spaces across two levels, the dynamic form of the slope encourages interaction between them, as a tertiary space that highlights the radial quality of the site. Alternatively, this element also serves to segregate the private quarters in the east, from the guest rooms and first floor leisure area towards the west. The latter wing is settled atop slim supports, beneath another outdoor terrace, flowing into a landscaped space that runs under the curved path. Understated refinement, lateral motion, and a sense of lightness pervades the design, which relies on subtle detailing and earthy textures to complement its context within the verdant countryside.
The architects state in an official release, "Our intent was to keep as much of the volume within the horizontal plane as possible, to blend architecture amongst the landscape, leaving the mountains and nature to engulf and surround users instead. The spatial organisation and radial form help achieve this. On the other hand, arranging the program along the soft slope enhances or induces a planar quality." Landscape design is another element that serves to reinforce this concept, as a number of trees were planted within the central courtyard as well as the cut out along the curved pathway.
In a manner befitting its context within the countryside, the residence’s architecture skillfully melds indoor and outdoor areas along a single fluid route through the site, creating an abode filled with life, light, and nature, that is well-equipped to rejuvenate its periodic inhabitants.
Name: Radial House
Location: Khao Yai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
Typology: Residential (2-Storey House)
Site Area: 2400 sqm
Built Area: 1100 sqm
Design Timeline: 2016-2017
Year of Completion: 2020
Architect: Stu/D/O Architects
Interior Design: Stu/D/O Architects
Lighting Design: Stu/D/O Architects
Stu/D/O Project Team: Apichart Srirojanapinyo, Chanasit Cholasuek, Supachart Boontang, Patompong Songpracha
Landscape Architect: Field Landscape Studio
Structural Engineer: Darat Likitthaveechok
Mechanical Engineer: MEE Consultants
Contractor: Double Click Construction