The authentic vernacular and classical
creations of Ong-ard Satrabhandhu stand as vigorous,
if lone, way signs to a civilized future.
IN THIS GRAND PRIVATE HOUSE, constructed on a large previously disused parcel of land in a busy section of Bangkok, the idea of a retreat was much more difficult to achieve and required a strategic decision to lift the entire house so that all parking and utility rooms are below. By using courtyards and pavilions to define outdoor spaces, like vernacular Chinese quadrangle dwellings in Beijing, Ong-ard has devised a house that is in contrast to the busy streets of the neighborhood. Beginning with the paved entry court for visitors’ cars and moving within, a sense of quiet and privacy prevails that is created as much by the inward-looking spaces as by the harmonious proportions of the architecture. Here, there is a feeling of entering another world. The composition is augmented by the use of many historical building elements or fragments purchased in China and by almost as many specific references to other places (like the early seventeenth-century Wang compound in Shanxi Province). These inventions prompt the casual visitor to wonder if the place is old or new.
The architect has skillfully woven a complex program into a harmonious whole. Separate quarters for family members are linked by calm courtyards with mature trees such that privacy is protected but not at the expense of family. A simple plan using building components a single room deep means that light can enter on two exposures and that air can freely pass through the rooms. Communal spaces, like the exercise and pool areas, are contained within stylistically similar courtyards that give a unity to the spatial arrangement and quality. Low, generous overhangs shelter the rooms and give the open spaces an intimacy that contrasts with the high ceilings of the interiors, a characteristic of tropical architectural space.