Architecture, Book review, Rizzoli
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A TRADITION OF SERENITY: The Tropical Houses of Ong-Ard Satrabhandhu


The Ong-Ard Satrabandhu’s book on tropical housing in Thailand takes one into traditional Thai architecture of Lanna style. Lanna is a concept of being down to earth, coming directly from mother nature, which originated in Thailand some centuries back. Originally called “Lan Na Thai,” the name means “a million rice fields.”

The Lanna way of life and its architecture are inseparable for centuries. The spatial proportions, balance and rhythm of same Lanna style are to be found in the work of Ong-Ard Satrabandhu.

In this sense he is a disciple of Geoffrey Bawa and his open space concept. Usage of raw materials, intertwined with landscape and verdant greenery almost blends with surroundings peacefully. Maybe his generous usage of up lighters in the trees should be given a thought considering the habitat of birds at night. The drawings showcased in a book takes one back to medieval period of Rajputana miniature paintings in India where plans,elevations and sections are shown in the same drawing with great care.  These drawings are not only meant for architects, the subtle way of representation makes it easy to understand for laymen too.

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Fifteen years back, Ong-Ard built Chiang Mai’s twenty three room hotel Rachamankha,  with monastery like white porticoes, its whiteness punctured by  dark wooden shutters . He followed that up with Tamarind Village, which used stucco, brickwork and wooden beams constructed in local traditional way. These hotels have proved widely popular with holidaymakers; but some traditionalists were aghast: Ong-Ard’s buildings clearly mimicked temple architecture, infringing prevalent philosophies that Buddhist fundamentals could only remain within a religious setting.

Some images from the book:


Photo Courtesy: François Halard


Photo Courtesy: François Halard


Photo Courtesy: François Halard

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