Saturday, 8 May 2010

Balustrading in Thai Architecture

Balustrading is a key component of more traditional style Thai architecture. A Thai wooden house is often very open plan with much of the total floor area taken up with outdoor areas. These areas are often elevated from the ground because of the preference in Thai design to build a house on stilts. This means the edges of the outdoor areas often have considerable drops. This is a safety issue that is best rectified with balustrading.

The same is true for balconies. It is dangerous to not enclose a balcony with some type of balustrading to stop people accidently falling from the second floor. Furthermore, in villa design both traditional and modern it is often the case that the balcony looks out over a sweeping view of a bay with a precipitous drop.

 There are a variety of styles and materials that are used in Thailand for balustrading. Wood can be placed flush to the building or in slats.

The wooden balustrading can be simple with nice clean lines or it can be carved and intricate. Often decorative features such as lanterns are incorporated successfully into a balustrade.

Cheap balustrading can be made from concrete which is then 'beautified' with tiles. Tiles gives the option of playing with colour and design.

A modern and sometimes far from appealing effect can be achieved with welded iron and light aluminium balustrading. The advantage of aluminium is that it doesn't rust or corrode in wet weather. In contrast wood and timber balustrades need constant treatment to maintain.

Sometimes a mixture of materials is used on balustrading in Thailand often with mixed results. Below is an example of marble and carved wood. Expensive materials that just don't work together.

Balustrading can be used to define paths and for handrails over bridges. Here is an example of reclaimed hardwood being used in a path through the grounds of a hotel in Thailand. In these eco-conscious times that we live in using reclaimed wood is an excellent idea.

Finally, balustrading in Thai architecture is sometimes used to define a lower floor open plan space. Rather than walls that restrict air flow, balustrades can be incorporated which provide a degree of privacy while maintaining the delightful sense of openness that is one of the trade marks of good Thai design.