Harirak House

The immediate impression one gets of the Harirak House is that it is modern and yet it embodies many memories of a traditional Thai house. The house is located in the maze of narrow streets (soi) off Charansanitwong in the Bangkok Noi area of the metropolis. Although it is deeply embedded in the urban fabric of the city, upon entering the compound there is an immediate sense of calm because the house is hidden and secluded and feels almost rural. Trees are visible beyond the rooftops and there is the distinct sound of birdsong.
Harirak House
The house is arranged around a garden court.

The 500-square-meter house was designed by Bundit Kanisthakhon. Completed in 2007, it is the residence of his sister Busakorn (Kai) Harirak, her husband Panupong and their two children. Both husband and wife studied at Seattle Pacific University in the USA whereas Bundit studied architecture at the University of Washington and pursued his Masters degree at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where his career was influenced by the former editor of MIMAR, HasanUddin Khan. Bundit presently lives and practices architecture in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Harirak The modern Tropical Thai House
Operable timber shutters in the southwest elevation permit natural ventilation.

The area where the house is located was formerly a durian plantation consisting of roads lined by durian trees and separated by klong (canals). Later, houses were built on the land, mostly for government employees. The residential layout followed the same plot pattern as the durian plantation. Kai was born here, then moved away and later returned with her husband.
Harirak The modern Tropical Thai House 1
A gallery extends along the northeast flank of the house.

There are three components of the house a main linear building, a carport and a guesthouse. The three buildings encompass a courtyard garden with a beautiful flame tree a royal poinciana at the heart. The design provides ample semi outdoor spaces for the family to gather. Bundit greatly admires the work of Geoffrey Bawa, and he and his wife have visited Bawa’s work in Sri Lanka. The influence of the Sri Lankan master can be seen in the sensitive arrangement of shifting axes, vistas and enclosed courtyards. There are numerous places to sit and contemplate.
Harirak The modern Tropical Thai House 2
The heart of the house is the highceilinged living and dining room.

At the northern end of the house, overlooked by a veranda, are the remains of an algae-covered klong (canal). The still, green water and the reed bed in its midst connect with Bangkok’s history as a water city.
Harirak The modern Tropical Thai House 3
Sliding screen doors give access from the dining area to the veranda.

Kai’s mother currently occupies an old house behind her daughter’s residence in what is essentially a three-generation compound, but the family hope that she will at some time in the future move to what is already referred to as the ‘mother’s house’, currently used as a study and guesthouse, which has a superb view into the garden.
Harirak The modern Tropical Thai House 4
Sliding screen doors give access from the dining area to the veranda.

The main house is entered via a tall, pivoted entrance door that gives access to a linear circulation gallery with operable timber shutters on the southwestern flank of the house. The internal areas of the house glow with a gold and brown hue in contrast to the off -form concrete and cement render of the structural walls. The principal staircase is located at the very end of the gallery.
Harirak The modern Tropical Thai House 5
At second floor level there is a linear circulation space.

The focus of the house is a high-ceilinged living and dining space, with the kitchen occupying one end and a semi-enclosed patio the other. The linear space is flanked on the southwestern side by the circulation gallery and on the opposite side by a double-glazed veranda. Tall, black, aluminum-framed doors slide open to give access from the main living space into the parallel terraces. There is a double-height void above the dining area and another above the television area. The upper floor contains three bedrooms, also accessed by a linear gallery on the western flank. The master bedroom has an exquisite en suite bathroom. The key to the success of the internal spaces is the excellent cross-ventilation, assisted by ceiling fans.
Harirak The modern Tropical Thai House 6
There is a delightful view from the master bathroom into a leafy garden on the eastern flank of the house.

Bundit has created a thoroughly modern house that is deeply embedded in Thai tradition. It has steep-pitched, clay-tiled roofs without gutters, tall rooms, ceiling fans, permeable walls for natural ventilation, adjustable teak shutters and clay floor tiles. Wherever possible, local materials have been used. Perforated concrete blocks are also used both structurally and strategically to allow for natural light and ventilation, while the veranda on the upper level has slatted timber louvers for ventilation. The folding wood doors and wood floors in the main house have been constructed from salvaged teak.
Harirak The modern Tropical Thai House 7
At the northern end of the living area, an external patio overlooks a pond.

The house is raised one meter above ground level in the manner of a traditional Thai house. Wide, overhanging eaves are designed to provide ample shade. The 40-degree angle of the roof follows Thai traditional practise but is also intended to accommodate photovoltaic panels at some future date. The orientation of the house is therefore very important. Three towers located on the southwest side of the house function as the service space and they shade the house from the late afternoon sun.

Harirak The modern Tropical Thai House 8
At the northern end of the living area, an external patio overlooks a pond.

Harirak The modern Tropical Thai House 9
The algae covered pond is a reminder of an era when Bangkok was served by numerous klong (canals).
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