Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings, By Edward S. Morse

Limited preview at Googlebooks online.

Houses for The Twenty-first Century, By Geoffrey London (2004)

Another Googlebooks find! Includes an article entitled "Recent Thai Houses: Diversity Without Integration" by Pirak Anurakyawachon that discusses (and gives a history of) the balance between Thai and Western influences...there's some really interesting stuff in the essay

Built to Meet Needs: Cultural Issues in Vernacular Architecture, by Paul Oliver (2006)

I stumbled upon this book about the study of vernacular architecture on Google books, so a bunch of it is available to read online. (click here)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Surfaces (Thai Architecture Elements Series)

These little books are published to make available unused images from Nithi Stapitanonda's book Architecture of Thailand (2006.) In each he focuses on one or two architectural elements with images and some text, this one looks at color. See also Roofs, Doors & Windows, and Colors.

When we look at Thai architecture from the perspective of modern architecture, we discover many commonalities in the approach to design and in the choice of materials. The distinctive Thai beauty fits well with modern design in such aspects as the relationship with the environment, function, and consideration of the impact of open spaces. (from the introduction.)

A classification of materials in the images:

plastered masonry:
with painted mural
with embellishments inset in the plaster for decoration
with punched openings for ventilation
woven matting:
in herringbone pattern
in basket-weave pattern
with reeds lined up in vertical orientation
in wood slat or bamboo framework
wood planks:
horizontal siding
horizontal siding as angled vents
horizontal slats sometimes with punched designs
vertical siding
arranged vertically overlapping with some short planks to create openings
vertical slats sometimes with punched designs
railings in an "x" pattern, or spindles
wood panels:
as solid walls, sometimes with intricate carvings/painted and divided into boxes
as swiveling windows
as shuttered windows
bricks (structural) long and flat, sometimes used to create curved surfaces
3D tiles creating raised mosaics, or smooth/3D with painted designs arranged in mosaics
bricks (structural)
3D decorative tiles with carvings, mosaics
intricately carved latticework in temples with glass/mirror insets

glazed tile:
decoratively painted
bamboo to create paths
gravel or sand
pavers over gravel or laid into concrete
perforated pavers to allow grass to grow through
continuous paved surface laid orthogonally or diagonally
stone pavers placed far apart to make a path

lattice holding jars
open bamboo beams and underside of roofing (looks nice with the structure painted)
planked or paneled soffits

thatched leaves with rods placed over to hold them down
halved bamboo placed over/under
shingles sometimes with decorative ends
wide tiles placed closely over each other
molded tiles (spanish-look)
shingles with pointed or rounded ends to make diamond pattern

Colors (Thai Architecture Elements Series)

These little books are published to make available unused images from Nithi Stapitanonda's book Architecture of Thailand (2006.) In each he focuses on one or two architectural elements with images and some text, this one looks at color. See also Roofs, Doors & Windows, and Surfaces.

Colors hold high significance in Thai culture; most Thais register a deep connection between colors and the ideas associated with them. For instance, each day of the week is assigned a color and the King's color is yellow based on his birthday, while the Queen's is blue based on hers. These bright colors show up in everything from shirts commemorating the King to cloth bunting along the road. This book focuses in on the use of the primary colors in architecture, but it is clear from a quick glance at any Thai street that many vibrant colors are used unapologetically in all manner of buildings.

Some notes from the text:

The color red, or vermilion, signifies power and sacredness. It is part of the Thai national flag and is also utilised for inscriptions on holy cloth that is used as a talisman. Red is also widely used in almost all Thai architectural elements...applied along with other colors to enhance beauty and interpretation, for instance red and gold used together enhances the shine of gold and adds brightness...red can also be applied in combination with opposite colors...such as red-green, red-blue, and red-yellow.

Yellow is significant in Buddhism; the color expresses sacredness and also prosperity and wealth. It is favored both in Thai paintings and architecture...in this book, gold is included in the category of yellow color. Gold is the color that expresses prosperity and wealth more prominently than other colors, therefore, it is favored in architecture of significance or in buildings meant for the higher ranks such as those dedicated to Buddha or the King. Thai craftsmen always use gilded copper plates to cover the principle pagoda, decorate the roof of buildings with gold colored glass mosaics, and apply gold with other colors such as gold on black lacquer, gold-blue, and gold-red.

Dark blue, a cool tone color, gives a feeling of calmness. It also signifies royalty and is another color that is seen on the Thai national flag...blue was imported from China in later times therefore the application of blue was only for high-ranking buildings such as royal temples and the grand palace.

'The Thai House: History & Evolution' vocabulary

From The Thai House: History & Evolution (2002) by Ruethati Chaichongrak & others. (p 242) There is also a fantastic resource page (p 243) of "some trees and plants commonly associated with Thai houses" in the back of the book.


Bang- Raised. Often found at the beginning of village names.
Dao Harng ceremony- a pre-test to see that the house components are in their correct places.
Don- Raised. Often found at the beginning of village names.
Keub- A Thai measurement equivalent to 0.33 cm.
Klong- a canal.
Kranok- A commonly found decorative design of swirling tendrils & foliage.
Kwang tawan- Against the direction of the sun: the gable faces north or south. Generally inauspicious.
Long tawan- With the direction of the sun: the gable faces east or west. Generally auspicious.
Muang- A city or city state.
Muang fai- An ancient small-scale gravity feed irrigation system in northern Thailand.
Pa phae- The so-called 'goat forest,' the name given to community forests in northern Thailand.
Rasami phra arthit- A sunburst design found on gables throughout Thailand.
Sork- A Thai measurement based on the distance from elbow to wrist equivalent to 50 cm.

Construction Components

Bai raka- a certain type of roof finial
Blanor roof- a so-called Manila-style roof.
Charn- terrace
Chofa- roof finial found on temples.
Dunk- A central vertical roof timber.
Fa- wall panels.
Fa khat thae- woven bamboo wall panels.
Fa pakon- wooden wall panels.
Fa prong lom- loose-weave bamboo panels.
Hamyon- A carved wooden plaque above the door on the inside of the bedroom of northern houses.
Homrin- the space between the bedroom house and the kitchen house in northern Thailand.
Hong- a post span and a measurement of the Thai house.
Hua Thian- a round tenon on the top of house posts.
Janthan- rafter.
Jua- gable ends.
Kalae- crossed and carved gable ends foind on certain northern houses.
Kamyan- eave truss.
Kansart- extended eaves or roofs to protect the sides of the house.
Kantoey- eave bracket. Usually for chapel.
Khaira- soffits which extend from the walls or gables.
Khangkhao- a small piece of wood used to attach the rafter.
Khor song- upper section of the wall panel below the khue.
Klorn- latches.
Khue- cross beams.
Koey- a lean-to roof extended from under the house eaves found in Isaan.
Kongpat- part of the foundation.
Kradai- stairway.
Krua- kitchen.
Langkha- roof.
Lima roof- a hipped roof whose five ridges refer to the word lima or five in Arabic.
Loog fak panel- wooden wall panels with a raised center panel, found in the central region.
Mae ding fai- a cooking platform.
Maelae roof- a gabled roof type found in southern Thailand.
Na thang- windows.
Ngua- part of the foundation.
Ok-khai- the ridge beam.
Pae- purlins.
Panlom- windbreak on the gable.
Peek nok- soffit.
Phuen- floor.
Pratu- door.
Prueng- the rectangular frame used to brace the house floor and wall.
Ra- floor beam.
Rabieng- verandah.
Rae- a disc of thong larng wood used as a foundation.
Raan nam- a shelf for water jars in northern Thailand.
Ranaeng- laths.
Rawd- post tie beam.
Salak duey- wooden wedges and pins used to lock components together.
Samae- wooden nail.
Sao- posts.
Sao ek- the first post also known as the auspicious post or the king post.
Sao laeng ma- posts supporting the porch of northern houses which are seen as symbolising a dog guarding the house.
Sao nang rieng- posts used to support very large kansart.
Sao tho- the second post, sometimes called the queen post.
Tao- a bracket supporting the roof or kansart.
Teen sao- the base of a post. In the south these are not sunk into the ground and are often concrete.
Toen- the multi-purpose area outside the rooms of northern houses.
Tong- joists.
Waeng sord/waeng keeb- floor beams.
Yong- a carved panel below the window.

Types of Buildings

Dunk tang khan yao- the largest type of yao (north-east.)
Huen- a house (northeastern dialect.)
Hor klang- central hall.
Hor nok- bird pavilion.
Hor suadmon- prayer hall.
Hor trai- scripture hall.
Kappiya kuti- structure housing monk's food.
Kuti- monk's residence.
Lao khao- rice granary.
Long khao- rice granary (northeast.)
Pae loog buab- a bamboo raft.
Po- a wooden raft.
Ruen kalae- a northern house built of hardwood with the extending crossed eave boards.
Ruen khahabodhi- rich person's house.
Ruen khrua- kitchen.
Ruen klang- central hall.
Ruen krueng sab- house built of wood.
Ruen krueng pook- a house built of bamboo.
Ruen mai bua- a house built of bamboo.
Ruen mai ching- house built of wood.
Ruen norn- sleeping house.
Ruen loog- subsidiary building added for children to sleep in.
Ruen khwang- a house built crosswise to the other two in a group.
Ruen pae- a raft house.
Ruen sam hong- a house with three post spans.
Ruen yai mi khong- a twin house built of wood (northeast). the most prestigious type of house.
Ruen yai- a large house built of wood. Typical of a relatively well-off family.
Sala karn parien- preaching hall.
Teng na- a northern rice field hut.
Therb- a type of hut used for storage.
Thieng na- rice field hut (northeast.)
Toob tor lao- small lean-to adjoining the granary used as living accomodation.
Ubosot- ordination hall within a temple compound.
Viharn- temple building housing the Buddha image.
Yao- a temporary building (northeast.)
Yung khao- granary.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Roofs (Thai Architecture Elements Series)

These little books are published to make available unused images from Nithi Stapitanonda's book Architecture of Thailand (2006.) In each he focuses on one or two architectural elements with images and some text, this one is divided by roof type. I'd like to get copies of "Surfaces" and "Colors." There are also volumes entitled "Stairs & Railings," "Statuary," and "Gates & Fences." (Update: See also Doors & Windows, Surfaces, and Colors.)

Some notes from the text regarding pattern recognition:

Tiered roofs
-visually reduce the mass of a large-scale building, making it look slimmer and more buoant
-reflect the status of the building: more tiers=higher significance of building, owner, or dwellers
-high, vertical layering implies faith in Buddhism or the King

-in the North, where it is cooler, eaves reach down to cover the windows. "Ka Lae" are crossed pieces of wood at teh gable-top to give good fortune, and "Ka Ko" are carved pieces covering the end of purlins.
-in the Southern region with heavy rains and winds, houses on stilts are not as high as those in Central and Northern Thailand, and have a higher pitch to facilitate drainage
-Northeastern style roofs are of the lowest pitch due to dry climate & low rainfall

Multi-tiered (like wedding cake-cone form, spire)
-based on belief related to the mythical Sumeru Mountain...highest rank of roof.

Gable & Hipped
-enable good rainwater drainage and air ventilation
-builders prefer to use small roof tiles on high pitch roof planes
-tiles placed so as to make a border on each roof plane help to make the roof appear light and buoyant

Roof Elements
-Cho Fa, gable-top decoration made in bird-beak shape or fish-lip shape
-Khrueang Lamyong, gable eaves & tile end covers
-Hang Hong, gable end decorations made in the shape of Nage heads placed in a row
-Thais consider it inappropriate to decorate common buildings to be as or more elaborate than temples and palaces.

Doors & Windows (Thai Architecture Elements Series)

These little books are published to make available unused images from Nithi Stapitanonda's book Architecture of Thailand (2006.) In each he focuses on one or two architectural elements with images and some text, divided by region. See also Roofs, Surfaces, and Colors.

Some notes from the text regarding pattern recognition:

-"with windows and doors, the most common material is wood, because it is easy to work, light-weight, strong, and has good weight bearing capacity and tensile strength."
-Thai doors always open inward (and it looks like windows most often open outward.)
-spiritual themes (to ward off evil spirits, etc.) are often incorporated in woodwork on traditional doors to designate the separation between the inside & outside.

There are lots of fantastic pictures of walls & wall openings, and I wanted to note these two temples in the north (Lanna architecture) that have solid masonry bases with punched openings and wood on top:
Wat Phra That Lampang Luang.Wat Ton Kwen

Sunday, November 23, 2008

images from a bike ride on campus...

There are a lot of trees on campus (Mahidol University, Salaya) making pictures of the buildings a little challenging to acquire. These are pictures from a bike ride this evening...just some buildings that have caught my eye. This campus was founded in 1990 or so, and there have been many buildings that have gone up recently as well. The above is a good example of vertical concrete sun-shading that you see on a lot of buildings here. Below is a brand-new building with a faux-brick base, and an open ground story. (I showed another portion of it here.)
I really like the look of exterior tiles as cladding, but am not sure about their durability. I've seen them on a lot of older facades from the 60's here...and they weather really well. These were cemented on, and clearly have issues...Some more tiles from the dorms that look a little better...(red & grey)
Those are also tiles up above (white,) and still look fantastic. I think this was one of the original buildings.More tan tiles, again with problems. (sad...they are so pretty.) It looks like they hold up better nearer to the ground...perhaps because of rain & wind on the top storys?

A building under construction next to the new music school...it looks like another music building. Interesting materials...a couple of different kinds of wood. These window "flaps" are on the Eastern side of North-facing windows. The stairs make me nervous every time I pass this building.These are South-East facing windows on a Southern exposure...the balconies are really interesting.
Speaking of roofs...

And here is the recently-completed concrete mega-structure known as the music school.
This is a nice moment where the different materials & levels come together @ the turn of a ramp. Tiles again.some punched openings...and I'm facinated by the grass...and I'm not sure if the zigzag is supposed to be a reference to music...it happens in a few other places on the building.
We came upon this concert...another mono-pitch roof!nextdoor is this...I suppose you could point to it as an example of how wood weathers, but I should talk to someone about what the upkeep of it is.

concrete sunshading...
this is the temporary cafeteria made up in the former basketball courts. It's actually 100x nicer than the old cafeteria.
"skylights" from translucent roof panels.

These fans blow cold air out from little tubes affixed to the front of the fan...nice.And there you have it! Thanks for joining me. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Our Church, Bang Bua Thong

We go to a Thai church in Bang Bua Thong (outside of Bangkok) that rents 3 adjacent shophouses. They run a daycare during the week, and the pastor's family lives on the top floor. (I'm not sure what's going on there with the lack of window on the top floor, far left.) The owners of the building have gotten foreclosed on, so the congregation has been looking for a new space. They decided to build a new building not too far away, which is being funded by the mother-church in Bangkok. I love that it's orange, which makes it easy to point out to taxi drivers!
This is a little oasis of living things just outside the front door...very little space, but enough to add some greenery and fish!
This is the mother-church in Bangkok---the architecture of which is greatly admired by the pastor.
The main floor, used for daycare, church dining hall, meetings, etc. It is 2 shophouse modules, and the partition over the front makes for an interesting feeling in the space. The kitchen is in the back (a narrow sliver between the building and property wall that has been roofed over.) Bathrooms are under the stairs. I think I must have inherited my propensity to stick things to the walls around me from my Thai side. At the very minimum, most Thai buildings feature pictures of the King.
Here is the same space later (looking from the other corner,) when everyone came down to eat:
A classroom off to the side...sorry for the blurriness.
There is a mezzanine between the ground level and the sanctuary level.
This is the sanctuary; it is the only air-conditioned space in the building. It takes up the front of all three modules.
Outside the sanctuary, the stairs lead up to the pastor's living quarters.
Some drawings of the new church building. It will be similar to the current one in that the daycare and meeting space will be on the ground level, and sanctuary/pastor's quarters will be above.
Here is our pastor with one of his sons. There is a church building on his tie, which was appropriate as he had a meeting today about the new building. The congregation seems excited about the change, and really enjoy looking at the drawings.
The view out the front door...some sun-shading, ventilation.