Aurapin House

The simple concept underlying the design of the Aurapin House is 'to be part of the garden, to live in the garden', explains architect Boonlert Hemvijitraphan of this dwelling for his own family of two boys, designed in close collaboration with his wife after whom the house is named. 'We wanted a living space that merges with the garden.' he continues, 'so the materials of the facade have a rustic quality. The vertical bamboo and distressed steel screen that forms the external skin of the house merges with the surrounding trees. It forms a transparent curtain and there is visual connectivity between interior and exterior."

Aurapin The Modern Tropical Thai House
The swimming pool deck at dusk.

Bangkok is prone to Hooding, and although the house does not lie in a Hood plain, it is nevertheless raised above the ground in the center of the site to provide ventilation and to avoid termites. In this way the house draws upon traditional responses to site and climate while having a modernist sensibility. The air-conditioning equipment is located in the space beneath the raised ground floor.

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A Buddha image is located in the entrance porch.

Now in his early forties, Boonlert is a graduate of the Bartlett School of Architecture in London where he studied under Peter Cook from 1995 to 1996. Prior to that, he was an undergraduate in the Faculty of Architecture at Silpakorn University, Bangkok, where he gained his B.Arch.

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The house is hidden from the public highway.

‘Peter Cook opened my eyes,’ says Boonlert. ‘He was a catalyst for ideas and encouraged me to visit the work of European architects such as Coop Himmelblau in Vienna and Rem Koolhaas in Rotterdam. I was also inspired by the work of Peter Zumthor and Luis Barragan and by the courtyard houses of Geoffrey Bawa in Sri Lanka.’ Upon his return to Thailand, Boonlert resumed work in his own practise Boon Design which is now eight strong and encompasses interior design and landscape. Most of the firm’s work has been on private residences, but at the time of writing he was working on a forty-room hotel and has moved his practise into unconventional new office accommodation that he has designed using shipping containers.

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A mature tree provides shade to the pool deck.

The house, in the Ladprao area of Bangkok, has a calm atmosphere that, a midst the frenetic bustle of the city, is a quiet retreat. No matter how hot the climate, asserts Boonlert, the house is always cool. The house is lightly 'clothed' with steel and bamboo screens that form a second 'skin', and because of the movable components permits cross-ventilation. There is a small azure blue swimming pool and a fountain beside the sand-colored wall on the eastern flank of the house. The pool cools the breeze, and the sound of splashing water from the fountain masks the rumble of distant traffic and enhances the peaceful ambience. Every room in the house can be opened to the exterior, and there is a wonderful double-height space above the living area. A mature tree in the courtyard provides shade.

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The living room overlooks the plunge pool.

Boonlert extols the virtues of wabi-sabi philosophy in relation to the design of beautiful objects. It is a Japanese concept derived from the Buddhist assertion of impermanence. Characteristics include asymmetry, asperity, simplicity, austerity and modesty. It also includes an appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes. Consequently, the house has a strong orthogonal plan form. At the same time, it is a modest dwelling with an abundance of greenery.
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Steel and bamboo louvers filter the rising sun at dawn.

The house is not immediately visible from Ladprao 71. A high wall and a sliding timber gate conceal it from passers-by. but to the left of the vehicular entrance a pedestrian gate gives access to the courtyard. The house is elevated and overlooks the entrance court. Proceeding along a limber walkway and dispensing with shoes at the base of a flight of stairs, a visitor arrives at a terrace on the western flank of the house to be confronted by a small statue of Buddha in front of a frosted glass wall.
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The entrance lobby leads directly to the living/dining area, which is interchangeable.

A sharp right turn leads to a lobby giving access to the open-plan living/dining/kitchen area. It is a wonderful double-height space a glass box with structural steel columns surrounded by the bamboo screen that insures that solar radiation does not penetrate. The kitchen is concealed behind a high counter. The living/dining area has a rich sense of materiality, with timber flooring and chairs and tables upholstered in natural fiber. Stairs at the rear of the house, leading to the upper floors, are flanked by a frosted glass wall. At first floor level, a large family room overlooks the ground floor living area. The interlocking spaces ensure interconnectedness between the multiple facets of family life.

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A garden play sculpture designed by the architect.
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A frosted glass wall flanks the staircase.
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The master bedroom on the second floor.
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A long bar counter conceals the pantry.
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The privacy of the house is protected by a precision-made veil of steel and bamboo.
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Louvered shutters can be adjusted to control daylight and ventilation.
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The generous timber deck provides space for outdoor recreation.
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A high sand-colored wall flanks the azure blue pool.
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