Transverse Konvergence House

The Transverse Convergence House is the residence and design studio of architect Vasu Virajsilp. The two-story 550-square meter house/studio, which is located off Sukhumvit Road, is remarkable for the plastic use of concrete to achieve a sculptural form. Its distinctive and extraordinary manipulation of space and form, with interlocking volumes, ramps and stairs, is also a complete break with Thai tradition.

Transverse Konvergence House
The house is noteworthy for the plastic use of concrete.

Vasu Virajsilp obtained his B.Arch. (Hons) at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, in 1996, where the major influence on his studies was Raymund Abraham. Later, he trained at Columbia University New York under Professor Bernard Tschumi, and obtained an M.Sc. in Advanced Architectural Design in 1998. He and Boonlert Deeyuen, who is a graduate of Silpakorn University in Bangkok (1996), set up the practise of VaSLab Architecture in 1999 (registered 2003). The two partners admit to influences from the work of provocative art and from architecture movements such as Cubism, Abstract Art, Modernism, Dada, Surrealism and Deconstruction.

Transverse Konvergence House 1
The public fa├žade of the house facing the site entrance.

The sinuous form of the Transverse Convergence House is an enigma. Underpinning the seemingly simple external form is a complex methodology. The arrangement of the internal space is much more intricate than the elevations. There is throughout the house a sustained ambiguity about which spaces are for living and which are for working. Th e boundaries are indeterminate and paths between the two are entwined so that, for example, the house entrance has the feel of an office lobby but immediately morphs into a comfortable sitting area with, alongside it, a drum kit. Visible beyond the office entrance is the residential dining room a double-height space located behind a black aluminum-framed glass wall with a splendid chandelier by Bellacor. Adjoining the dining room is the family room from which access is obtained via a security door to a staircase leading to the master bedroom. At the southeast corner of the house are a timber deck and a swimming pool reached from the living area.

Transverse Konvergence House 2
A swimming pool deck on the private side of the house is concealed from the public gaze.

Between the living room and the family room, the route to the first floor design studio is signaled solely by the inclined soffit of a sculptural concrete stair. Arriving at the upper floor, a short concrete ramp, a thrusting angular bookcase and an architectural model indicate the transition from residence to workplace. At this point, there is an administration desk fronting a meeting room and, paradoxically, a guest suite. To the north of the studio is a single-story building that was initially intended as the home of an elderly relative but has now been turned into an ‘ancestor’s room’.

Transverse Konvergence House 3
The public reception area morphs into a private living space.

For the first-time visitor to the Transverse Convergence House, the entrance hall is disorientating, for it is simultaneously a private residential domain and the semipublic entrance of an office. But the duality of the house obviously works for the architect/owner, who appears to reject the pigeon holing of life into categories such as ‘work’, ‘leisure activity’ and ‘home’. Here, they are all interwoven. In this residence, designed and built specially to suit his needs, the architect is able to explore deeply the interactions and contradictions in daily life and identify areas of intersection and convergence. The house reveals a uniquely personal concept of ‘dwelling’.

Transverse Konvergence House 4
Throughout the house, the use of space is ambiguous.

The use of metaphor is a key feature of VaSLab’s design methodology. In the Transverse Convergence House, the architect utilizes a metaphorical interpretation of how three different paths are related. The house represents a journey in which three diverging and converging paths are translated into a series of space–form interactions, such as living/working and resting/meeting. Read in this manner, the initial confusion is replaced by the desire to more closely interrogate and comprehend the narrative.

Transverse Konvergence House 5
Overlooking the dining area.

The intertwined activities in the building are visible from the forecourt. At ground floor level, floor to ceiling clear glass walls permit views of the hall and living areas, while the large windows on the upper floor reveal the architect’s office at work. Residence and workplace share the same palette of materials, namely off-form concrete, unpainted plaster, polished cement floors, timber ceilings and black aluminum window frames.

Transverse Konvergence House 6
Overlooking the dining area.

Another deconstruction of the notion of work and place is evident when I arrive at the house to find Vasu and Boonlert the latter oversees detailing and construction setting off in their ‘mobile office’, a six-seater van with comfortable seats. ‘We spend four hours a day in Bangkok traffic,’ explains Vasu. ‘It is one way to use the time productively.’

Transverse Konvergence House 7
Library shelves thrust forward like a projectile and signify the transition from residential to office space.

Transverse Konvergence House 8
The entrance to the office and the residence from the vehicle forecourt.

Transverse Konvergence House 9
A shaft of sunlight illuminates the office library.
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