Greeting passersby with a warm and cheery visage, the ngamwongwan house in Bangkok, Thailand, is a testament to both the beauty and versatility of clay face brick. Chosen in response to the architect’s desire to achieve a simple yet exotic result, clay face brick broadened the project’s design possibilities with its adaptable and modifiable qualities. Furthermore, budget constraints due to the urban area’s increasing cost of land influenced the building teams’ decision to use brick as a cost effective building material. Working closely with the local contractors and artisans to consider different methods of application, architect Jun Sekino explored the many creative possibilities that could be achieved with brick before construction commenced. Aiming to demonstrate how a simple building material, such as face brick, could be used to create a stylish and contemporary living space, Sekino approached the project with an eager and innovative mindset. “Sometimes, an ordinary brick wishes to be something beyond itself,” said Sekino after considering the design’s potential. Socially Connected Spaces With clay face brick dictating the structural form, the 235-square-metre residence has been divided into two levels with three bedrooms and a communal courtyard for family gatherings. Upstairs, two of the bedrooms face out towards the terrace and balcony. And occupying the first floor, an open plan area, consisting of the living room and dining room, leads out into the kitchen as well as the first bedroom. Designed for client Piti Savaswong and his parents, the Ngamwongwan’s design places equal emphasis on both form and function. Since family was an integral part of the project’s focus, the home’s layout has been structured to include socially connected spaces that consider the practical realities of the family’s day-to-day life. Through the incorporation of spacious and accessible areas that promote social interaction, the design reflects the residents’ communal lifestyle. Furthermore, the perforated brick walls and open spaces create visual connection points throughout the home, reassuring residents that they are not alone. Climate Considerations Spaceshift Studio The Bangkok residence not only takes advantage of the natural clay face brick texture to blend in with its tropical surroundings, but also benefits from the temperature-regulating properties of brick. Building a house that would accommodate Bangkok’s humid climate was another one of Sekino’s primary considerations. Consequently, two thirty centimeter walls were built with a gap in between to act as a heat insulator – ensuring heat penetrates the outer wall and not the inner wall. In addition to this, multiple sections of perforated brickwork allow light to filter in while screening residents from the heat. Meeting numerous requirements from the construction team and the clients, as well as achieving his design goals, Sekino has certainly succeeded in taking ordinary brick and transforming it into something beyond itself.
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