Architects Puiphai Kunawat and Punpong Wiwatkul worked on high-profile projects for Singaporean firm WOHA, such as The Met and the Hansar Hotel. After opening their own firm, Somdoon Architects, three years ago, the duo has just won more laurels at the World Architecture Festival for Siamese Blossom, an eco house in Bangkok.

What are the concepts behind Siamese Blossom?

Panpong: Bangkok has been driven by commerce for so long. That’s why you’ll see rows of townhouses that look so stiff, compared to beautiful homes designed as residences. So when we got to design this project on Ramintra Road, we wanted to build a fully functional townhouse where the focus is on the back of the house. The garden there creates a green space instead of just a sad backlot. 

Do you think this award will change things here?

Puiphai: I don’t think so. I think the only way to make this eco-friendly trend sustainable is for the government to offer benefits, such as lower taxes, to any development that is eco-friendly. Green buildings are more expensive than normal ones. So the government should create these laws to persuade developers to think more about the future.

Panpong: I hope it will encourage real estate developers to think more about the clients who must live in those buildings. They must make the building more livable, rather than just thinking about maximum profits. If you build a more eco-friendly house, inhabitants will save money in the long term.

What do you want to see more of in Thai architecture?

Puiphai: I wish Thai architects would explore the international stage more because it’s really good to bring our designs to the world and have them acknowledge us more. When I went to Hong Kong to accept the award at MIPIM Asia for best residential development for IDEO Morph 38, I saw people from many countries, but no Thai was there. It’s a bit lonesome. 

What do you think about our laws blocking foreign architects from working here, such as in the case of Ole Scheeren?

Puiphai: It’s good that we have a world famous architect come here to design a beautiful building for Thailand like Ole Scheeren with the Mahanakhon project. But we should do things lawfully, too. The law specifies that buildings here must have a licensed architect from Thailand, so they should follow the law.

If you could plan a better Bangkok, what do you want to do?

Panpong: We should better connect the old town and the new town which is now the city center. It takes too much effort to reach the old town today.

Puiphai: I’d prefer not to drive a car for the rest of my life. I want Bangkok to be a pleasurable city to walk in. A good city must be a city where people can walk everywhere easily, not like now with the Bangkokians faced with bumpy sidewalks full of signs and motorcycles.

More on Siamese Blossom here


Leave a Comment