Reflection House is a generational treasure trove of nostalgia in Bangkok, Thailand
by Jerry ElengicalJan 27, 2023
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Jerry ElengicalPublished on : Oct 11, 2022
Perhaps one of the best markers of a good vacation home away from the city, is its capacity to completely foster a sense of detachment from the rush and mad frenzy that comes with the territory of residing in a contemporary metropolis. In this sense, helping users reconnect with their roots in nature, is an unspoken component of the experience that such a space can offer, and it is crucial for architects to consider how their design schemes will converse with the context in such a scenario. Near Khao Yai National Park, one of Thailand’s largest such nature reserves, and the first among them to be established, Bangkok-based collective Stu/D/O Architects had to design such a structure on a site bordering an animal watering well, on the foot of a mountain. Given the responsibility of creating a sanctuary with close ties to nature for the clients, while also respecting the existing terrain and the ecosystems that called it home, the firm produced a residential design intervention dubbed the 'Winding Villa' that drew from elements of organic architecture, enveloping spaces within a sinuous enclosing wall that is part boundary fence and part façade design element.
Conceived as a means to avoid disrupting the openness of the terrain, the undulating trajectory of the wall is a product of an attempt by the clients and the Thai architecture practice to define a perimeter for the structure that would circumvent any vegetation that occupied the swathe of land which constitutes the site. After distributing functions along the three prongs of the closed curve so obtained, it was extruded upwards to generate the massing which would subsequently act as the ground floor of the residential architecture. Hence, as a consequence of this measure, the trees on site were integrated into a courtyard space which became the central point of convergence within the layout. The circular clearing thus formed at the heart of the program, is a focal point for most of the villa design's functions, featuring sloped terrain that imparts a natural sense of fluidity to cohere with its surroundings. Although some trees were excluded from the bounds of the house, they also played a role in screening the building from its context, acting as an informal buffer between the wild landscape and the shelter of the interior.
The winding wall morphs along its trajectory to form walkways, corridors, functional areas, and other transition spaces, while supporting a cantilevered rectangular volume above it that contains the private living spaces. Above, a portion of the wall's upper surface also accommodates a green roof. Here, the juxtaposition of organic and geometric design languages is framed by the course of the wall, which lifts itself upwards in certain segments to form arches and other elements that foster interaction between users and the landscape of the national park.
Droplet-shaped incisions into the lower level frame a pair of internal courts, which also assist with drainage through the site. Reflective ponds, placed along the edges of the home’s namesake element, serve as natural deterrents which discourage animals from entering the property in a subtle fashion. Inside this silent poetic sanctuary, where the communion of natural and artificial breeds liminal states that belong to neither but embody traces of both categories, users can find solace from urban lifestyles, away from concrete jungles that foster seclusion rather than openness.
A pair of bedrooms are part of the program on the ground floor, connected by the curved wall, which continues its theme of organic transformation, hosting corridors, verandahs, and pathways that flow and blend into one another, till there is little distinction between one ending and the other beginning. Beyond the rectangular pool design near the centre of the courtyard, an especially wide section of the curve accommodates the living room, which features a winding staircase design that mimics the geometries of the villa's architecture, aligning with the path of its bounding wall. Floating wooden treads cascade down from a concrete floor slab on the first floor, bound together by a slender glass railing. The interior design is fairly minimal in its orchestration, allowing the flow of spaces to bask in the spotlight.
Extending for 20 metres, hovering beyond the building's ground level footprint, the rectangular mass of the upper level contains four bedrooms including the master suite, which has been placed at the very end of the plan, affording it unhindered views of the nature reserve and its forested topography. A balcony runs along the entirety of the layout, screened by wooden slats that are a staple feature of tropical modern homes designed in similar contexts - providing both shade while simultaneously functioning as an aesthetic feature that adds rhythm and texture to a building's faces. Overall, the material palette is quite restricted and naturalistic, relying predominantly on exposed concrete, plastered white surfaces, and wood to express its spatial narrative.
In essence, Winding Villa’s adroit use of counterpoint and contextual design measures firmly cements its relevance within the context of Khao Yai National Park, ensuring that its impact on the terrain is not overly dominant and simply serves its purpose. Such an example of integrating architecture, landscape, and conservation within the scope of a single project, may be an important model to consult when moving forward, to build in sensitive settings that demand more than the traditional practice of clearing nature away in the name of development. Although it is a recurring motif in such projects, the blurring of distinctions between interior and exterior seen in the Winding Villa, is on a level that is scarcely seen when speaking of residential buildings in such contexts, elevating all that it envelopes to create a haven for relaxation.
Name: Winding Villa
Location: Nakhon Nayok, Thailand
Site Area: 22,000 sqm.
Built Area: 1200 sqm.
Year of Completion: 2021
Project Team: Apichart Srirojanapinyo, Chanasit Cholasuek, Thanut Sakdanaraseth, Pitchaya Kointarangkul
Structural Engineer: Ittipon Konjaisue
Mechanical Engineer: MEE Consultants
Contractor: Double Click Construction
by Sunena V Maju Mar 31, 2023
The architect, professor and curator, talks to STIR about architectural responses to the refugee crisis, building for underrepresented communities, and his curational practice.
by Vladimir Belogolovsky Mar 31, 2023
Vladimir Belogolovsky reviews Owen Hopkins's new book Brutalists: Brutalism’s Best Architects and finds it refreshing in its focus on architects and broad representation.
by Almas Sadique Mar 29, 2023
Vltavská Underground is an underground space for sports, recreation and food in Prague, Czech Republic.
by Anmol Ahuja Mar 27, 2023
Designed over the site of an abandoned 1950s petrol station in London, the building borrows its visual vocabulary from nearby railway arches and housing complexes.
make your fridays matterSUBSCRIBE
Don't have an account?Sign Up
Or you can join with
Please select your profession for an enhanced experience.
Tap on things that interests you.
Select the Conversation Category you would like to watch
Please enter your details and click submit.
Enter the code sent to
What do you think?