Traditional Thai Houses



Traditional Thai Houses

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Traditional Thai houses are well adapted to the tropical climate. Many are raised on stilts to protect from flooding. A steeply slanting roof helps to channel rainwater off the house, and natural materials such as hardwoods, bamboo, and dried leaves help keep the building cool. The design also reflects spiritual beliefs. The innermost room is believed to be the abode of the spirits of family ancestors, and this is usually used as the sleeping quarters. Traditional Thai houses are most often seen in rural areas, though grand versions may be found in cities.

Northern Houses

Northern Thailand can be relatively cool. As a result, the windows of Northern houses are smaller than those in the rest of the country. The kitchen and living areas are often joined together, which makes good use of the available heat. Outer walls are commonly built to slope outward, toward the roof, for strength. In more rural areas of Northern Thailand some houses have thatched roofs.

Central Plains Houses

Typically the whole structure of a Northern house is raised on pillars. An open balcony running along the front of the house is common, as are plain or decorative kalae.

Central Plains Houses

In the hot Central Plains, a large, centrally situated veranda is the dominant feature of many traditional houses and acts for much of the year as an outside living area. Some houses in the Central Plains have covered verandas running along the sides of the main structure. Sometimes, a communal veranda will have several houses clustered around it. Houses found in the Central Plains tend to have wood-paneled walls.

Houses on Water

River houses can be found in the Central Plains. The khlongs of early Bangkok had many floating shop-houses. Such houses are very practical in areas prone to seasonal flooding. Houses can either be anchored to posts above the water line, or built on bamboo rafts so that during flood conditions they are able to float on the rising waters.

Royal Houses

Royal houses and mansions are typically a mixture of Thai temple and house styles and Western architecture. The main structural material of such buildings is usually teak, which gives them their distinctive rich, red color. Windows and doors usually have ornate frames and pediments, which are themselves sometimes decorated in gilt bronze.

Spirit Houses

Spirit houses can be found on the grounds of many Thai homes. They are small structures, usually elevated on a pole, and house the spiritual guardian of the property. Resembling both dollhouses and bird-tables, they come in a wide collection of styles: sometimes simple replicas of the houses to which they belong, at other times elaborate models of religious buildings. Spirit houses are erected to placate the spirits of the land, traditionally before the construction of the main building begins. They are then adorned daily with incense, flowers, and food to further mollify the spirits. Spirit worship predates Theravada Buddhism, but the flexibility of Thai religion means that worship of the Buddha and spirits is a normal part of daily life.







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