House Jang

House Jang is a family home in the very heart of Bangkok at Ruan Rudee Soi 2, off the busy Ploenchit/Sukhumvit Road. The house is built on a sliver of ‘left over’ land measuring just 160 square meters. Unusually for the center of Bangkok, the land is freehold.

House Jang
The house occupies a challenging urban site surrounded by high-rise towers.

The initiator of the project was Stefan Schlau, a German-born British architect who has lived in Bangkok for almost two decades. He was born in Hamburg and received his architectural education at the Technische Universität in Karlsruhe and Berlin and the Architectural Association in London where he gained a diploma in 1977. His contemporaries included Zaha Hadid and David Chipperfield. He returned to the AA to teach in Peter Cook and Christine Hawley’s Unit in 1978 and ran his own unit in 1980–1 with Sotores Polydorou and Tom Heneghan.

House Jang 1
The design is a bold geometric composition.

Stefan lived in London for twenty years, working initially with OMRANIA, Buro Happold and Frei Otto in Saudi Arabia before setting up his own practise, CLS Architects, in 1983. He designed a number of restaurants for Thai clients, including ‘Chiang Mai’, the first Thai restaurant in Soho, London, and various houses for Thai clients in London and France. When commissioned to design a large resort in northern Thailand in 1995, he moved his base to Bangkok and later built his own studio and residence in Soi Polo. Subsequently, he has designed several private villas, apartments and resorts.

House Jang 2
In the absence of external views, a rectangular lightwell is carved from the center of the block.

Acknowledging the location of the expensive site that is surrounded by high-rise towers, it was a given that the clients, Radja Smutkojon, a manager of an international company, and his wife Ravee Purananda would require a huge amount of floor space. With incredible ingenuity, the architect has achieved 340 square meters (plot ratio 1:2), notwithstanding the restriction that the permitted height of the building should not exceed 15 meters. To accommodate this, he designed a 4.5-story structure (excluding carpark) that is built up to one meter from the site boundary on all sides. A glass elevator facilitates access to the upper floors.

House Jang 3
A plunge pool is ingeniously incorporated in the design.

There are a small number of recessed windows on three sides of the cubist composition, but a rectangular lightwell ‘carved’ from the center permits daylight to enter. The main living areas facing the street have views of the city skyline and of a neighboring garden immediately opposite the site. A 10-meter-long plunge pool cantilevers over the carpark, and above it is a brown timberclad box (originally intended to be copper) projecting over the pool and main entrance.

House Jang 4
Given the compact inward-orientated plan, there is a surprising sense of space and light in the house.

Architect Stefan Schlau has made up for what the house lacks in external vistas with a beautifully composed internal space. The interior is remarkably spacious, with a double-height living room that overcomes any possible sense of claustrophobia. The living room faces north so that there is minimum sunlight and solar gain in the living room, and this also allowed the windows to be clear glass. At dusk, as the lights of the city are switched on, there is a magical panorama.

House Jang 5
The dining area exudes luxury living.

The condominium on the adjoining site has its air-conditioning coolers sited immediately adjacent to the swimming pool deck, with the consequent whine of fans. A waterfall has been introduced alongside the pool that effectively masks the noise.

House Jang 6
The hall and the glass elevator.

In summary, House Jang is an artful infill urban residence that makes maximum use of a restricted site.

House Jang 7
A magnifi cent doubleheight living space is the focus of the urban house.
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