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.