SOUL SEARCHING

“I HAVE STRIVEN FOR PERFECTION AND ALSO TRY TO MAKE IT REALISTIC,” SAYS PONGTIP KANCHANANAGA 

Ramkhamheng Road was a clogged artery that we just couldn’t bypass to get to the offices of Siliam, where we met Khun Beaw (Pongtip Kanchnanaga). Although we hadn’t seen him in three years, he told us that the company has not been handicapped by the economic crisis, and has had a steady influx of work. “This is nothing special, because while the other companies build high-rises, I do residential houses. The cost is not so high, but the economic situation is stable for me.”

Originally published in art4d No. 43, October 1998

To design a house, the designer has to build it around the client’s lifestyle. Of course, anybody can design his or her own house. It just depends on what degree of perfection they want. For a designer, perfection means satisfying the owner. While the aesthetics may depend, to a certain extent, on the designer’s preferences, they must be in accordance with the client’s lifestyle and wishes. Khun Beaw praised Mies van der Rohe as being the best in the field. When Khun Beaw studied at Cooper Union, he used to analyze Mies’ work. “I did a paper on him and analyzed the classic project of Modern Architecture Mies. The degree of perfection in his work came straight from his soul. I also knew that Mies was a master of utilizing different materials like ceramics in many different forms. They may have been in the same shape, form, and color, but never had the same scale. When Mies built the Boundary, he chose seven kinds of ceramics in seven different sizes. He used the ceramics as the boundary, but the overlay was consistent with all the structures. It was the same schematic in everything and was also the standard language of architecture and reflected Mies’ desire for perfection. He knew how to do it, and that was part of his strategy, which made people wonder how he pulled it off. We believe that everyone has this sense of perfection, or soul, inside themselves.”

Originally published in art4d No. 43, October 1998

The new project undertaken by Khun Beaw was a combination of office and house in Soi Suar Yai Uthit for Khun Jom, a famous designer and the owner of the Theater boutique. “There are three brick houses with space for an office. There was land beside them, which I wanted to buy. And I agreed that if I built another structure, the environment must not change because the base is of a small scale. If we build it, the community and vision will change. I have thought about this and still want to buy the land. The owner loves the idea of living and working in one place. I know that he is not a decorator, but a collector, so I want to work around this fact.”

Originally published in art4d No. 43, October 1998

“I mainly deal with the scale of the base. As you see in the sketch, it is a search for proportions. The concept of this program is proportion, but it contains no architectural value and beauty. I use a joining and dividing method to incorporate a different set of values. When you analyze it, there are always overlapped proportions. This is the starting point, which comes from the base of the building. I use rendering to be harmonious with the place and scale to answer the questions of sense and space. So at this point I am dealing with the concept. Then I incorporate a sense of realism to make a lively home. I have to deal with both his and our preferences, while also thinking about how to decorate it in a suitable way that won’t clash with his old furniture.”

Originally published in art4d No. 43, October 1998

“Actually it is a kind of ‘shattered’ form in many senses, which has both positive and negative spaces. I also have to consider the feelings of many departments within one organization. The big boundary has many smaller boundaries within it, which is something the owner will not understand because it is intangible. When I first introduce the plan, we present the different aspects of the area which can be modified at any time.”

Originally published in art4d No. 43, October 1998

After talking with Khun Jom, they understood he wanted a “clean” house, a requirement which was inspirational to Khun Beaw. “It is not an open space like a loft or a factory. It has to be decorated in such a way that it matches the lifestyle of the owner.”

Originally published in art4d No. 43, October 1998

The building process itself was also wrought with potential difficulties such as the permit for the space being for a private residence not a commercial structure. This means they had to add more hydraulics. “To get permission for a commercial building, we needed to build up the structure so it could withstand more weight. There were many problems, which means we wasted time and money. There were also other technical problems. Normally, the owner does not want varied functions, but I had worked with him previously and knew his work. That experience helped me to understand his assembling process.

Originally published in art4d No. 43, October 1998

Although this program stresses the interior, Khun Beaw is also interested in the exterior of the building as well. “I think that was an influence from the study, although I cannot use all of it because of the limitations imposed on us. I believe that the two buildings have a high relationship in terms of scale, but we built them too short. I have tried to find a starting point that relates to the form. Basically, I believe that there are some structures, but I have to think of ways to present them.” The architectural skills of Khun Beaw were developed by doing renovations. I asked my senior architects about the structure. I’m afraid of the project’s failure, so I’m conservative and don’t deal with the technology. I believe that every project has value, but I don’t know whether it will seem right to other people or not.”

Originally published in art4d No. 43, October 1998

The aesthetics of the project are intricately connected to the scale. “I have striven for perfection and also tried to make it realistic by putting it on paper and building it up as a structure.”

Originally published in art4d No. 43, October 1998

This project began at the end of 1994 and was completed just this past July. Khun Beaw says that he is slow in designing and there were many reasons why this project took such a long time. “I had to do it step by step. There were many unexpected problems, however, we came through eventually. But the owner’s happy and prefers working at home to the office, which is exactly what he wanted.”

Originally published in art4d No. 43, October 1998

Returning to the subject of perfection again and Mies van de Rohe, the designer admits that their styles are “very different.” Perfection is the question of doing good work and achieving the highest quality in regard to the schematic, text, content and vocabulary. It also, of course, has a lot to do with the finished product. The results will never be that great unless we use all of our expertise.”

Originally published in art4d No. 43, October 1998

Leave a Reply