DKFF House

The owners of the DKFF House are Frank Flatters, a Canadian of British origin, and his Thai wife, Duangkamol Chotana (Jeab). Frank spent three years working in Jakarta, Indonesia, and ten years in Bangkok before deciding to make the city his permanent home. He previously lived in a 180-year-old house by Lake Ontario but it is now ten years since he left Canada. He retains the title of Professor Emeritus of Economics at Queens University Canada, while Jeab is President and former editor of Krungthep Turakij, Bangkok’s leading business newspaper.
DKFF The Modern Tropical Thai House
 The southwest elevation overlooks a lap pool.

The couple found the site in 2004 during a period of economic downturn. Th e property, which overlooks a lake just 25 kilometers to the east of central Bangkok, was in an exceptionally rundown condition. It had been on the market for five years and was completely overgrown although a dilapidated villa on the site had once enjoyed high profile visitors such as Prince Sihanouk, the erstwhile ruler of Cambodia. Looking for a quiet and secure place within easy reach of the city, yet remote from the urban hubbub, Frank and Jeab immediately saw the potential of the place and were prepared to put up with the occasional frustrated shouts of errant golfers from the course that lies to the west of the site beyond a belt of trees. Wild life abounds in the area there are monitor lizards in the lake and cormorants, kingfishers, herons, hornbills and storks are attracted by the water. Frank soon became an avid bird watcher.
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Wide overhanging eaves shade the principal outdoor space.

Having found the site, Frank and Jeab next turned to selecting an architect and settled upon Kanika R’kul. The couple had seen the P-cube House in Pranburi overlooking Naresuan Beach and were impressed with the design. Their instructions to the architect were that ‘we require a simple, open plan with high ceilings’.
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 A balcony skirts the house at second floor level on the south and west elevations.

Labeled ‘the leader of a home-grown revival ... of an indigenous strain of architecture that would reflect the native spirit and lifestyle’ on the basis of her design of the House-U3 for her own family, Kanika lived for sixteen years in the USA. She initially studied interior design at Southern Illinois University and worked for two years in Alabama before enrolling at Southern California Institute of Architecture in Santa Monica where she studied from 1986 to 1991. She interned with Morphosis for one and half years. In 1991, she headed back to Thailand, but she found it difficult to settle down, and it was another two years, including a year working in Germany before she finally returned to her roots in Bangkok. In part, it was the commission from her parents and her sister to design a house on the site of her childhood home that brought her full circle. House-U3 was completed in 1997 and remains one of the seminal private houses in Thailand.
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The living room at dusk.

The DKFF House took three years from inception to completion. The structure of the house is a combination of RC post/beam and steel frame while the gray and white stone used as cladding material is from China. The external finish is either polished cement or corrugated metal. The owners and the architect like this material for its industrial elegance and solar protection. The architect explains: ‘We wanted to experiment with the use of this materials in a residential design, for it is not often found in Thai houses.’ Extensive solar studies were carried out before deciding on the roof material. A planted sedum grass roof was seriously considered, but eventually a decision was made to go for a relatively light roof, one insulated with shredded newsprint. A unique feature of the house is its steel roof propped up by steel struts. The roof has wide overhanging eaves to shade the glass and for energy conservation. Diagonal bracing at the end of the roof adds to its elegance.
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The service courtyard is a functional space.

Solar studies also tested the requirement for shading devices to deal with sunlight in the late afternoon from the west. ‘The roof design is an attempt to discover new contemporary design possibilities for a pitched roof with an overhang,’ explains Kanika R’kul. ‘It has oft en been shunned by a younger generation of architects and clients for being “too traditional” and un-innovative. But for us, a pitched roof with an overhang is very practical and perfect for the Thai climate. Frank and Jeab shared our view and made it possible.’ Appropriately, the house now sits like a bird on the site, appearing, with its expansive roof profile about to take off in flight.
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The living area and the second floor study/sitting area are visually connected by a double-height space.

The two-story, one-bedroom house has a remarkably simple plan orientated west. The ground floor consists of a two-car carport leading to a spacious entrance porch that gives access to an open-plan arrangement of kitchen, dining area and double-height space connecting to the living area overlooking the outdoor lap pool and timber deck that runs along the west side of the house. There is a TV/guestroom and the usual back-of-house provision, including maid’s accommodation. The upper floor consists of a study, master bedroom suite, huge bathroom and exercise room.
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The linear living and dining area extends along the southwest flank of the house.

The west-facing first story veranda shades the lower floor in the afternoon. Trees help to reduce solar heat gain and there are external motorized louvers. Sliding doors on the west side are full height and can be opened to permit natural ventilation or closed for air conditioning. Th e prevailing wind blows over water and the house cools quickly because of low thermal mass, green surroundings and cloud cover.
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The study and sitting room occupy a quiet corner of the residence.

In this house, Kanika R’kul displays her renowned skill at detailed design, while in the garden there are several pieces of sculpture made from recycled bicycles by the famous Thai artist Saiyart Sema-ngern.
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The spacious en suite master bathroom.
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New tree planting assures privacy from an adjoining golf course.
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The overhanging roof shades the glazing.
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The overhanging roof shades the glazing.
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The owners’ stationary exercise bikes provide an opportunity to also bird watch.
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The entrance portico adjoining the carport.
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The dramatic form of the entrance elevation.
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