Sustainability via Adaptability: Learning from the Traditional Thai House’s Built-for-Change Architecture

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Saithiwa Ramasoot


Adaptive reuse plays an important role in safeguarding the traditional Thai house, or Ruen Thai, byappropriately converting the time-honored architectural fabrics to efficiently fulfill new requirements and ensuretheir practicality and compatibility with today’s context. This paper studies converted traditional Thai houses,and addresses embedded adaptive qualities that facilitate physical and functional modifications. The qualitiesnot only contribute to the conservation of Ruen Thai, but their potential applications in contemporary designscan also encourage environmentally sustainability. Revealed through structures undergone adaptive reuseprocedure, the adaptability is articulated via five key attributes: the prefabricated structure that allows dismantling,relocation and reassembly of components; the modularity and neutrality of house units that retain the compoundintegrity; the interconnectivity of the central terrace that accommodates an addition of house units; the use ofa single room for a single function that provides flexibility of conversions; and, the potential unoccupied areason the ground floor, the veranda and the terrace that can be enclosed for additional functional spaces. Thebuilt-for-change qualities enhance the architecture’s performance and prolonging its operational lifetime, whileacknowledging creative changes. At the same time, the adaptability allows a reuse of existing resources and areduction of extra consumptions and investments needed for new constructions.


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