Dismantle, reassemble, and modify: An adaptive reuse of the traditional Thai house
Concern about the decreasing number of surviving traditional central Thai houses, due to the dramatic urban transformation in Thailand, and doubt about their practicality in today's context have given rise to a search for solutions to safeguard the architecture. This dissertation studies the adaptive reuse and examines its potential as a means to preserve and utilize the traditional Thai house, based upon the adaptability originally incorporated in its distinctive physical qualities–a cluster of one-story single-room prefabricated wooden houses around a central terrace, raised above ground on posts.
Apart from in-depth revisions in the history of historic preservation in Thailand and the traditional Thai house, the research was conducted via three case studies of adapted Thai houses in various conditions, namely, M.R. Kukrit Pramoj's house, Nipa Krupaisarn's house and Ruen Mallika restaurant. The findings are that the Thai house's functional conversion in terms of contemporary uses can be achieved together with the preservation of traditional architectural essences. Functional and architectural limitations and requirements for modern facilities can be resolved by appropriate designs and treatments.
Recurring patterns of modification revealed five Thai house attributes that contribute to its adaptability: the prefabricated structure that allows dismantling, relocation and reassembly of components; the modularity and neutrality of house units that retain the compound integrity; the interconnectivity of the central terrace that accommodates an addition of house units; the use of a single room for a single function that allows flexibility of adaptation; and, the potential blank areas on the ground floor, the veranda and the terrace that can be enclosed for additional functional spaces.
While the Thai house can be efficiently adapted to accommodate contemporary residential purposes, may be utilized for non-residential public and business uses, particularly small to medium-scale cultural-related functions. Above and beyond basic maintenance and restoration, adaptive reuse ensures the evolving life of the Thai house by expanding its practicality in the contemporary context. It not only revives the historic building, but also retains it in an active condition, by advancing the architecture and allowing actual utilization and necessary modifications without compromising time-honored qualities.