A pigsty sounds like the last sort of structure you’d want to turn into a family home — but much like former barns, these agricultural outbuildings can transform into surprisingly beautiful and luxurious residences in the hands of the right architects. Thai architecture firm YangNar Studio recently completed “Kha-Nam Noi house” in the central province of Sing-Buri, Thailand, using an existing elongated pigsty as a shell for a series of comfortable living spaces made almost entirely with reclaimed materials.
“Kha-nam refers to the typology of small resting shelters found during the agricultural season in Thailand,” the firm explains. “They’re built using basic construction methods, with local and easily sourced materials.”
As in most vernacular architecture around the world, form follows function in Thai agricultural buildings. They often feature stilts to protect the interiors from floodwaters and large, steeply sloping roofs to provide shelter from the sun and shed rain efficiently. The long, continuous roof of the original pigsty features a traditional overlapped design wherein a secondary roof panel hovers above a vented opening in the lower roof panel. This gives the spaces directly below the vents natural light and air flow.
YangNar Studio arranged the living room, kitchen, and bedroom beneath the vents to take advantage of these features, while the north side of the building hosts a terrace corridor between a workshop and a plant nursery. The family that commissioned this unique adaptive reuse project wanted to create a self-sufficient estate where they could raise plants and train dogs, so the garden has a large area for both purposes.
When choosing materials for the home, the architects retained much of the concrete, steel, and wood from the original pigsty for inclusion in the design, rearranging it for new purposes. Beneath the old roof, the living spaces are elevated, gazing at each other through large windows across a shared outdoor space.
“The materials of this house [have a] way of arranging old into new use with respect to a trace of time,” say the architects. “We can see a lot of buildings’ traces of old material clearly, but architects keep that with an understanding of language to keep this blend in the transition of living. Some parts of the house such as the kitchen’s wall used authentic wooden craftsmanship like ‘Fha-Lai,’ a flexible sliding wall from the northern part of Thailand, to consider an alternative way of ventilation. This authentic construction method is hard to find nowadays.”
“This might look like a simple wooden house found [commonly] in this region, but for us, this house is an architecture that was not made for the aesthetic of living only but was designed from an understanding of the practitioner’s view in forming construction methods to blend old and new things to get a special architectural experience for the owner,” say the architects.
The result feels airy and full of character; particular to this area of the world and its customs and traditions. The texture of the old corrugated roof contrasts beautifully with the new glass and refinished wood, and the covered swimming pool terrace is a tropical dream. You’d certainly never call this recycled home a pigsty now, would you?