For those who are passionate about the beauty of architecture, the traditional Thai houses is a sign of wisdom and identity of Thais. The stilt house of the Thai people contains the philosophies of nature and civilization that are subtly blended together. Therefore, Thai people everywhere, including Thailand or Laos, live in stilts house. This is a summary of the unique design of Thai traditional houses.
1. Why do Thai people live in stilt house?
The old Thai story here tells that: in the past, the Thai people did not know how to build a house, one day a man dreamed of a turtle and he said: "Look at my shape and do it". So a shape of Thai house was formed with 4 legs as 4 pillars, turtle shell as roof tiles. Since then, the Thai houses have shape of a turtle. The house is usually located on a rectangular plan, with a railing running in front of or around the house with 4 steadily rising roofs.
Ms. Vuong Thi Min, a Thai woman in Vietnam said: "In the past, Thai people lived in a normal houses, but their houses were damp, so people built houses which is about 1 meter above the ground. When our land was cover by forest, there were many wild animals such as tiger o bear coming in. To stay away from the wild animals, people make the house taller, from 5 steps to 7 steps or 9 steps of stair.” The Thai stilt houses always has two different stairs: one for women, one for men. The number of stair is more or less depending on each family, but it must be odd. Thai people like odd numbers because they think even numbers are "dead" numbers. Odd is the number of growth.
2. Characteristics of Thai traditional houses
To buid an ideal stilt house, Thai people must choose a good wood in jungle. The traditional Thai house is made of wood and there is completely not a single piece of iron. All details are very elaborately tied by a rope systems made by bamboo and rattan.
2.2. Khau cut
The two sides of the roof top of each house are decorated with "Khau cut" which is two wooden slats decorated cross each other. "Khau cut" is made to avoid the damage of the wind for the house. It is an unique feature of the Thai stilt house.
2.3. Sacred column
In the stilt house, there is always a most important columm that called sacred column. On the sacred columm, there is a bamboo basket symbolizing the sky called Chop Nguom, on which hang a wooden image of a turtle, three rice flowers, three dill flowers, a packet of vegetable seeds, mascots of men and women made of wood and a sword. The sacred columm is a bridge connecting the earth with the sky or human with the god. On the top of the rafter and windows are decorated with many geometric shapes, patterns and motifs simulating grass, trees, flowers, leaves, birds and animals with each pair of symmetry according to the harmonious yin – yang theory. In particular, there is a pair of water monsters, the sacred symbol of rivers and also a symbol of strength and a happy family.
In the past, Thai people used to use thatch grass, cut & dry then beat it into a thatch to make the roof. The advantage of the thatched roof is always cool. In the past, Thai people often had two kitchens, an inner kitchen and an outside kitchen. When cooking, the smoke rises, increasing the durability of the roof. Today, due to better material conditions, Thai people use both tile roofs or shingles in house construction.
2.5. Number of room
The traditional Thai house usually has three or five compartments. The spaces in the house have an implicit division by gender, by owner or guest. For example, for a five-room house, the main space is the two largest spaces are living room and worship room. The living room is the space right where you walk up the stairs to enter the house. This is also the men's area, usually where the host meets guests. Sometimes there is a house on stilts with up to 13 rooms for 13 couples living together in the house.
3. Diversity in Thai stilt house architecture
Due to the difference in location, religion, climate & habit, the Thai stilt houses in different region also have variation in some detailed architecture.
In the Northwest of Vietnam, the stilt houses of the Black Thai people are in turtle shape and are often decorated at the two ends of the double roof by khau cut. Meanwhile, the stilt house of the White Thai people is a 4-roof house with no khau cut. In the some regione, the common Thai stilt houses have no decoration.
In the Buddist country such as Thailand, Laos, the stilt houses have a lot of religious details, especially the roof. The roof of Thailandese houses have the shape of small pagoda. They also have a room for Buddist worship.
4. Luxury eco-resort in Thai stilt house style
With knowledge of Thai construction and culture, Mai Chau Ecolodge
is honored to be the first 4-star luxury resort in Vietnam built in the traditional Thai house style. Each two-bedroom bungalow is decorated and built entirely using local materials such as bamboo, rattan. All services are supplied by local White Thai people. This is the place that you can enjoy the original Thai culture which is not affected by Buddism.