Three Parallel House

The Three Parallel House (Baan Sam Kanan) is, as its name suggests, a ‘three-generation residence’, although the architect prefers to describe it as about three entities rather than about three generations. One of the co-owners, who also happens to be the ‘man of the house’, is (Chang) Somprasong Sahavat, the proprietor of a chipboard/plywood manufacturing business. His wife, Buachompoo Ford, is a celebrated pop singer in Thailand with several albums to her name. ‘We live together with his mother and his sister,’ Bua says, ‘and now we have a young son, Matt, a name chosen by my English father.’ Somprasong adds: ‘Our house is essentially a place where the extended family can live together and at the same time be independent.’
Three Parallel House
The three parallel elements of the plan are arranged around a pool court.

Somprasong’s mother has one floor above the garage in the northern dwelling and his sister has the top floor. There is a massage room adjacent to his mother’s domain. The central parallel dwelling is the main space for family gatherings. Th is is the focus of the plan, with views of all activities and within easy reach of the kitchen and back-of-house activities. The upper floor is devoted to the Buddha room and the ancestor room. The southern parallel dwelling has a shared ground floor that is a formal meeting space and art gallery, while the first floor is the space for Somprasong and his wife, with the very top floor allocated to children. Provision has been made for a larger family, but for the present, with the arrival of their first child, the music room has become the nursery and Somprasong’s office is temporarily the son’s bedroom.
Three Parallel House 1
The owners’ art collection is visible (right) in the reception/dining area.

Embraced by the three parallel linear dwellings is a central court with a cool gray swimming pool and trees on the western boundary. The striking double-roof structure is the unifying element in the whole composition. Orientated to the west, it cascades down the site in an attempt to meet the human scale of the approaching visitor. The air space beneath provides shade and ventilation.
Three Parallel House 2
The ‘matriarch’s wing’ and the pool court at dusk.

Somprasong first came to know of Kanika R’kul, who he describes as ‘a famous female architect’, when he read of her design for a dwelling in The Commune by the Great Wall at Shui Guan, one hour north of Beijing in the People’s Republic of China. Somprasong found the house inspirational and asked some of his architect friends about her. It transpired that she was their instructor at King Mongkut Institute of Technology Ladkrabang University. She had the reputation of only working with students who took their work seriously and whose projects were meaningful. His friends helped Somprasong to contact her but warned him that she only designed two houses each year and she would only work for people she was happy with.
Three Parallel House 3
The family room overlooks the swimming pool.

The different functions of the three parallel dwellings are expressed in materials. The northern dwelling is clad in teak boarding salvaged from an old demolished house, the central dwelling is essentially concrete, while the southern dwelling is finished in horizontal corrugated metal sheets. ‘The materials,’ explains Somprasong, who attended high school in California and university in Boston, ‘represent who we are as individuals and what we are like. My mother is very conservative while my sister,’ he says with a smile, ‘is young and playful.’ Yet, the extraordinary bold composition is entirely logical. The center is solid and reveres the family ancestors at the core is a Buddha room. His sister’s realm is at the top of the house free! The different character of each member of the family and each generation is also reflected in individual paintings and decoration. The owner’s passion for modern art is evident in his collection of paintings, each chosen carefully to reflect aspects of contemporary life in Thailand.
Three Parallel House 4
The three parallel elements of the plan are separated by timber walkways.

The residence is located in a gated compound of six houses of paternal relatives. As security is provided around the clock, there is no provision for a wall or a gate. Within the lofty entrance portico is a timber deck with a couch a shaded place to greet guests before proceeding to the reception space and formal dining area. Typical of most houses in Thailand, there is a small spirit house (also designed by Space time) at the front of the site. There is also a bhodi tree on the opposite side of the road, facing the house. ‘We own the site and our intention is to build a warehouse/studio for the family,’ says Somprasong.
Three Parallel House 5
The roof terrace in the matriarch’s wing is enclosed for privacy.

The three-story, 1,000-square-meter house, completed in 2009, is higher than existing houses in the vicinity. It almost fills the site. Indeed, it is slightly unfriendly by its close proximity to neighbors although it does not contravene regulations that permit building up to one meter from the boundary. The east elevation is essentially the back of the house and is almost blank apart from numerous air-conditioning units. Beyond the rear boundary fence is an 8-meter-wide canal and a 10-meter-wide perimeter road.
Three Parallel House 6
A glass bridge on the second floor connects the three components of the plan.

Architect Kanika R’kul, who shot to prominence in 1997 with the design of House-U3, a seminal dwelling for her own family, shows that she is still at the top of her game with this intriguing new take on the three generation home.
Three Parallel House 7
A suspended seat in the entrance portico is a place to informally greet visitors.
Three Parallel House 8
The Buddha room and the family shrine are located in the middle section of the house.
Three Parallel House 9
An open-riser staircase gives access to the sister’s apartment.
Three Parallel House 10
A family entertainment deck is at the far end of the pool.
Three Parallel House 11
Details showing the material palette that includes timber and metal cladding.
Three Parallel House 12
Details showing the material palette that includes timber and metal cladding.
Three Parallel House 13
The stylish master bathroom.
Three Parallel House 14
From a nearby tower block the three parallel components of the house are immediately evident.
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