World tour 2018: 16 best destinations
In Thailand, a marble villa blends with nature and the sky
Fusion between architecture and nature, rocks and clouds
L’ampia facciata in marmo “si scioglie” pian piano in una struttura leggera che pare fluttuare
Imagine a majestic marble façade that slowly transforms into a villa perfectly and harmoniously settled into nature, with its own patch of sky. We are in Bangkok, Thailand, not too far from Chao Phraya river, in the middle of thick and rich vegetation thanks to the hot and humid climate. This villa is located in a residential neighbourhood called “Eastern Venice”, due to its dense network of canals. Here, architecture studio OPENBOX designed this elegant residence in white marble playing with the basic relationship between architecture, interiors and landscape. It is no coincidence that Nui Ratiwat Suwannatrai and Prang Wannaporn Suwanntrai from OPENBOX are also landscape architects and since 2004 their projects are characterised by a strong connection between nature and architecture. Their idea soon looked like a marble sculpture that recalls the ancient archetype of creating living spaces in a monolithic piece of rock. The façade looks strong and solid but simultaneously extremely light and almost floating, as if it tried to challenge gravity. The landscape plays a major role as it flows below the central courtyard and connects with the sky above.
The remaining pieces of marble look like they are coming off the façade and becoming part of the landscape, sweetening it from built to natural, from interiors to exteriors. This minimalistic project characterised by visually bold stylistic lines continues on the inside. Interiors recall the external geometries and expand in wide spaces with a minimal and elegant colour palette. Black and white dominate but they are sometimes interrupted the natural tones of wood. This marble house is on the edge of a rectangular piece of land and it is right in front of a rain tree, growing on the opposite side. Impossibly trying to reach the tree, the building looks like it transforms, becoming lighter through empty spaces and transparent structures until it ‘liquefies’ into the pool.
The wide marble surfaces also cover a functional role: they cool down the house in such a tropical climate. They slowly become trims and turn into tiny tiles where marble is simply printed. Here, wood and glass start to prevail, ideal materials to silently settle into nature. The internal courtyard with bamboo plants is particularly interesting as it allows natural light and ventilation to reach every corner of the house. It is also the ideal spot to enjoy nature in a private space, far away from the buzz of one of the world’s most populated cities. The sloping windows give shape to the house itself: angulations become sculptural profiles, materials get connected and shapes flow into linear spaces, creating continuity between interiors and exteriors.
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