Winding Villa by Stu/D/O in Thailand wraps nature within a sinuous bounding wall

Nestled near a nature reserve in Khao Yai National Park, this vacation home features a curving enclosure that circumvents existing trees to build a dialogue with its context.

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.

  • The home is situated within the verdant landscape of Khao Yai National Park | Winding Villa | Stu/D/O | STIRworld
    The home is situated within the verdant landscape of Khao Yai National Park Image: Rungkit Charoenwat
  • Bordered by an animal watering well, the project is settled on the foot of a mountain | Winding Villa | Stu/D/O | STIRworld
    Bordered by an animal watering well, the project is settled on the foot of a mountain Image: Rungkit Charoenwat

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.

A curving wall - the home’s namesake element - circumvents trees on site to define the building’s enclosure | Winding Villa | Stu/D/O | STIRworld
A curving wall - the home’s namesake element - circumvents trees on site to define the building’s enclosure Image: Rungkit Charoenwat

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.

  • A green roof has also been placed on a portion of the wall’s upper surface | Winding Villa | Stu/D/O | STIRworld
    A green roof has also been placed on a portion of the wall’s upper surface Image: Rungkit Charoenwat
  • Wooden slats dress parts of the building’s exterior, screening sunlight and adding rhythm to the design | Winding Villa | Stu/D/O | STIRworld
    Wooden slats dress parts of the building’s exterior, screening sunlight and adding rhythm to the design Image: Rungkit Charoenwat
  • Blurring distinctions between interior and exterior, the wall creates a dialogue between the home and its context | Winding Villa | Stu/D/O | STIRworld
    Blurring distinctions between interior and exterior, the wall creates a dialogue between the home and its context Image: Rungkit Charoenwat

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 courtyard occupies the centre of the plan, featuring sloped terrain that conforms with its surroundings | Winding Villa | Stu/D/O | STIRworld
    A courtyard occupies the centre of the plan, featuring sloped terrain that conforms with its surroundings Image: Rungkit Charoenwat
  • The wall morphs to form walkways, corridors, and other transition spaces along its course | Winding Villa | Stu/D/O | STIRworld
    The wall morphs to form walkways, corridors, and other transition spaces along its course Image: Rungkit Charoenwat
  • Breaks in the wall define arched openings to access other program areas | Winding Villa | Stu/D/O | STIRworld
    Breaks in the wall define arched openings to access other program areas Image: Rungkit Charoenwat

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.

  • View of the pool deck beyond the courtyard | Winding Villa | Stu/D/O | STIRworld
    View of the pool deck beyond the courtyard Image: Rungkit Charoenwat
  • A winding staircase is a highlight element within the main living area | Winding Villa | Stu/D/O | STIRworld
    A winding staircase is a highlight element within the main living area Image: Rungkit Charoenwat

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.

  • View of the living room | Winding Villa | Stu/D/O | STIRworld
    View of the living room Image: Rungkit Charoenwat
  • The interior palette is fairly naturalistic in tone, emphasising wood and concrete materiality | Winding Villa | Stu/D/O | STIRworld
    The interior palette is fairly naturalistic in tone, emphasising wood and concrete materiality Image: Rungkit Charoenwat
  • Model | Winding Villa | Stu/D/O | STIRworld
    Model Image: Courtesy of Stu/D/O

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.

  • Conceptual Form Development | Winding Villa | Stu/D/O | STIRworld
    Conceptual Form Development Image: Courtesy of Stu/D/O
  • Ground Floor Plan | Winding Villa | Stu/D/O | STIRworld
    Ground Floor Plan Image: Courtesy of Stu/D/O
  • First Floor Plan | Winding Villa | Stu/D/O | STIRworld
    First Floor Plan Image: Courtesy of Stu/D/O
  • Sections | Winding Villa | Stu/D/O | STIRworld
    Sections Image: Courtesy of Stu/D/O

Project Details

Name: Winding Villa
Location: Nakhon Nayok, Thailand
Site Area: 22,000 sqm.
Built Area: 1200 sqm.
Year of Completion: 2021
Architect: Stu/D/O
Project Team: Apichart Srirojanapinyo, Chanasit Cholasuek, Thanut Sakdanaraseth, Pitchaya Kointarangkul
Structural Engineer: Ittipon Konjaisue
Mechanical Engineer: MEE Consultants
Contractor: Double Click Construction

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