Traditional Thai Style Houses

Central Thailand

Thai Style House from Central Thailand

The characteristics of Thai houses in the Central Plain are as follows: High floor level allowing an average height man to walk with clearance above his head and another floor of about forty centimetres below the main floor as to allow free ventilation and sitters on the main floor to hang their legs in comfort. High floor level is also for the following reasons:

1. Safety from wild beasts and possible intruders during night time.
2. As a measure against any inconvenience from flooding.
3. Space under the house for storage of farming equipment such as “kwian” (buffalo drawn wagon), planks, boats, ploughing set, large frying pan, etc.
4. Floor space under the house is used for producing handicraft, and a common sitting or squatting area.

There us a high gabled roof and ample slanting eaves, and the roof cover is made from earthenware tiles. A large platform area, which may represent as much as forty percent of the total floor area, allowing exposure to sunshine and good clean air. Thai house in the central plain has its roof line oriented along east west direction. This is to cut down the amount of sun light into the main body of the house and at the same time obtain the maximum benefit of the cool winds.

Northern Thailand

Thai Style House from Northern Thailand

The typical house in the north is rather well walled in with less space for windows, and ample space for platform known in the northern dialect as “toen”. A shelf for a row of earthenware water jars is to be found on one side of the house. The walls tend to be slanted toward the eaves. The main body of the house is usually surrounded by large open space. Lanna house as a rule faces east with the roof ridge oriented along north south direction. The house is thus exposed to ample sunlight and at the same time protected from northern winds in the cool season.

Northeastern Thailand

Thai Style House from Northeastern Thailand

Thai House of the northeast are built with due considerations for dryness, hot temperatures in the hot season and cool temperatures in the cool season. The geoeconomic conditions and beliefs also play their parts in the evolution of the house styles of the northeast. The layout of the houses in each village 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 the average about four meters. Most if not all houses are without fences. Each house is 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 bedroom, corridor, a kitchen, and a shelf for storing water. Some houses may have “ruan kong” added to the main house. Ruan Kong is a hall built opposite to the bedroom. Most houses have no partitions and assigned areas are not clearly marked off from one another.

Southern Thailand

Thai Style House from Southern Thailand

Thai houses in the south are quite similar to those found in other regions of the country. Their characteristics are supporting posts resting on stone slabs to prevent termites attack, and dampness from the ground seeping through. The space under the house is rather generous while the roof is set rather low. This design makes the house better to withstand strong winds and rains. The slant of the extended roof allows rain water to run off the roof quickly and help the roof to get dry quickly also. The alignment of the supporting posts and the walls are slanted inwards.  The walls are made of wooden boards arranged in such a way that the upper board overlaps the lower one to prevent rainwater running through the wall on the inside of the house.

Thai house of the southern region has its longer side oriented in the east to west direction known in the dialect as “pluk baan loi wan” meaning setting the along the south to north direction. Doing so would expose the house to full sun light almost half a day and also to strong winds which are liable to blow from east to west directions. The alignment of the granary is the opposite of that of the house. By setting the longer side of the granary along the north south direction, the paddy in the granary will get all the sunlight it needs to get dry.  Thai house in the south is built as a single unit for one family’s living. When the family grows large, another house is built along the main house together with a platform linking the two houses into a single unit.

Pictures taken at Bang Sai Royal Arts and Crafts Center
Information from: “Rice and Thai Ways of Life” published by Office of the National Culture Commission

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