Renting a villa in Phuket or anywhere else in Thailand provides an opportunity to experience living in a completely different architectural style. Most villas will have been built recently with a modern layout and will have been built to show case the architect’s innovative modern designs. The exceptional architects will also build with a nod to the traditional architecture used in Thailand’s houses.
Traditional Thai architecture uses clay bricks, sandstone and sometimes laterite. The most common place to see these materials is in Buddhist temples and other historical places of interest. The traditional family home is the wooden Thai stilt house. The stilts elevate the whole house creating a practical space below the house. The space below the house keeps the living spaces dry and safe from any flood waters, and is used for storage and sometimes livestock. After the Tsunami in 2004 the world was in awe of how quickly the traditional Thai family homes could be re-built. With pre-made wooden and bamboo panels, houses can be re-built in just a few days.
Traditional Thai houses are built using 3 ancient principles:
1. Material preparation – prepare the materials for building the house. This includes the smell and taste of the soil.
2. Construction – you must be mindful of your surroundings (the environment).
3. Respect the dwelling – Thais believe there is always an area where the guardian spirit dwells. This is why there are several ceremonies to acknowledge the spirits at the start and completion of a building.
Internally the traditional Thai interior is a spacious, wide living area. Often the kitchen is a small area. Traditional Thai architecture is not extravagant, but it does have a historical feel. For the modern architect in Thailand frequently you will see elevated structures which have been built to maximise the views rather than to avoid flooding. There is a focus on providing extensive areas for families and friends to relax together both inside and outside. There is normally a sala outside and the inside often seamlessly flows to outside areas. Often villas are decorated using Thai silks and carefully chosen Thai and Chinese furniture.