The Thai House: its influence on our Villa in Thailand

Elements of the traditional Thai house at Gecko Villa

During your stay you will see the positive influence of Thai house design upon the villa. Amongst these are:

  • The raising of the property on stilts above ground level
  • The steeply pitched roofs for optimized natural cooling
  • The rainwater harvesting jars
  • The open air Thai kitchen that is adjacent to the western style enclosed kitchen
  • The outdoor wooden deck that is partially open to the sun and partially sheltered
  • The use of trees adjacent to the house for cooling shade
  • The cultivation of herbs, spices, crops and fruit for private consumption

The history and design of building Thai houses

The accepted impression of the Thai house overseas - a tall, thin structure with a highly angled roof in red tiles, is in fact typical of the region around Ayudhaya in the central plains, rather than native to the entire country. House design across the four main regions of Thailand varies considerably, reflecting geographic, climatic, economic and natural variations, and even spiritual beliefs.

In most small North-eastern villages, older houses are generally made of wooden living areas built on tall wooden pillars. The large, generally red, clay jars to the side or rear of these houses serve to collect rainwater from the roof to be used for drinking water. This arrangement has traditionally served several purposes:
* Water buffalo live underneath the house, both for safety and warmth in the cool season
* The ground level area provides a sitting area to welcome guests and to relax outside 
* The raised living areas provide access to breezes for natural cooling, and also permit damage from floods to be avoided.

Over time, and coinciding with both the economic development of Thailand and the deforestation of the Northeast, local villagers have tended to replace these older wooden houses with new single level properties constructed out of concrete blocks or bricks, and decorated with ceramic tiles. Often considered a sign of wealth or modernity, these houses, however, often prove hotter and less practical. 

The Thai village and Thai house layouts

The typical village is crisscrossed by walkways along the length and width of the village dividing it into groups or "koom". Each koom is given a name for the purpose of records and registration. Generally in each village there will be a temple, a school, a rice mill, a village court of law and a reservoir. 

The layout of the houses in each koom gives no hint of symmetry or systematic planning. The orientation of the roof of each house is invariably along the east west direction. The space between one house and the next is not fixed, but on average about four meters. Most if not all houses are without fences. Each house is generally accompanied by a granary built close to the house either to the north or south of the house. 

The average house is designed for a single family. The house plan is simple consisting of a bed room, corridor, a kitchen, and a shelf for storing water. Some houses may have "ruan kong" added to the main house. This  is a hall room built opposite to the bedroom. Most houses have no partitions and assigned areas are not clearly marked off from one another.