Apinyalak Suwannasai

Charn’n The Adaptive Architecture

Adaptation of buildings to serve more functions is not a new phenomenon: the theoretical approach towards adaptive reuse was well established and theoretically formulated as early as at the beginning of the 19th century. However, in Thailand, the principle of adaptive and flexibility is not being implemented in the designing of Thai architecture but many of these are found in the informal architecture in Thailand.

An informal architecture is very common in Thailand’s slums. The people living in an informal settlement lack the space to serve all the functionality needed in the house. Therefore, they need to utilize the space and ability to adapt to each area of the house to be able to serve more than one function.

The study of Thai informal architecture is not all about the adaptation of space and material. But also, how people transform these spaces to suit their own needs. This kind of adaptation found in the informal architecture is what many called ‘an architecture from life’.

An architecture from life does not found only in the slum but also in the housing estate as well as in the condominium. People always adapt and change their living space to fit their needs. But still, many of these adaptations are not being considered in the design of the architecture. Thus, this architecture does not support the flexibility of expanding or allow the future extension of the building.

Therefore, this thesis is to study architecture for living space that can adapt and change the building’s components to correspond and fit the various needs of its users and the surrounding environment, including the ability to maximize its value throughout the building life cycle and create a sense of connection for the people with the architecture.

Adaptive architecture is the ability to adapt -this refers to the building capacity in order to accommodate a substantial change and act during the lifetime of the building. The changes cannot be avoided, both in terms of society, economy and physical structure, as well as the needs and expectations of the inhabitants.

Target Group

Thailand is currently in a period of population transition. “Baby Boom” in the past has become “Senior Boom” in the present; this means that the number of aging people has rapidly increased meanwhile the number of children has decreased.

The figure above showed the situation of family in Thailand which 3rd generation family, no child family, stay alone and single family had tendency to grow up a lot.

As a consequence of this, the size of Thai families has decreased by more than half. In 2523, the average size of Thai households was 5.2 people. But in 2557, the average size of Thai families was 2.7


Thesis Question

• How can new typology of adaptive living space be executed for new generation and able to respond to changes and needs in the future?

• How can the characteristic of Thai housing be executed with the vertical living space and create a sense of connection for people with the architecture.

Thesis Objective

The thesis is to explore the new typology of vertical living space by applying the strategies of adaptability, flexible to change and needs and apply the characteristic of Thai housing to create the sense of connection throughout the vertical living.

Design Strategies

From the project objective, the architecture needs to be able to support the changes in terms of  family size and needs. In order to allow people to stay in the same place even though they have family or living alone. Therefore, the design strategies should be to combined vertical living with adaptive architecture.The building will be separated into different layers – the independent building layers will allow the easy rearrangement of the building components and the adaptable strategies will be used as guideline for each component.

Nowadays, vertical living is another option for people to live in urban context, as it is very accessible to the public transportation. And if we look closer and see its characteristics, this type of building typology is very unique and it lacks the connection between each household. People move out from this typology to stay in the house because of many reasons. One of them is the increase in their family size which require more spaces and others be like they lack the sense of connection they have with the architecture they called ‘home’ and their neighbors. So how can the vertical living space deal with these needs as well as bring the sense of connection?



Charn’n is one of Thai housing characteristics. It is a void space that allow an extension to be built. It is also a space that create a visual connection between each dwelling units. Moreover, it is an in-between space that even though people are in their own boundary, they still able to connect with others. Thus, all of these characteristics of Charn’n are being implemented into the designing of architectural space.

The picture shows the sectional drawing of Thai living space. The sequence of space comes from the active and passive spaces where human, architecture and charn’n connect together.

The sequence number3 is the most active space because it is the corridor of the house where every resident can walk pass. The sequence number2 is the Charn’n where the resident can share among each other between 2-3 units. The sequence number1 is the back of house which is accessed only by  an individual unit, and sequence number 0 is the most passive space because it is the unit.


Design Language

The picture above shows how the characteristic of charn’n can be represented into the building. Therefore, the characteristics of charn’n are represented into 3 layers, namely home(unit), building(independent building) and village(the whole site).

Unit plan

The unit is categorised into 3types depending on the size of family members, their needs and time. The resident can buy the whole plot of land and then choose the buildable element from the catalog and build their rooms.

Extension System

The video shows the extension system where it uses the folded mechanism. The folded mechanism was inspired from Ten fold engineering. The Folding licenses its patented lever-based systems to transform the shape and utility of the products. This technology allows people and the things they work with to be where they are needed. Buildings using this technology are extremely adaptable and can be constructed in many different materials and in many different sizes and styles to suit almost any application.


Randomly combine the difference type of units together and then locate the movable chan’n and pocket space between 3-4 unit to create the sense of connection along the corridor.


Connect buildings together to become the community and then rotate each building in the best orentation for the site that able to create the good quality space in the middle of the buildings and in the landscape.


Site Plan

Basement Plan

Second floor Plan

Third floor Plan,Fourth floor Plan 

Fifth floor Plan

The picture shows the identity of Thai housing execute through the project by applying the degree of privacy to create a relationship between Charn’n, Human, and Unit.

• Sequence 0 is the Charn’n in each unit.
• Sequence 1 is the middle Charn’n.
• Sequence 2 is the bridge in the courtyard.
• Sequence 3 is the waiting area.
• Sequence 4 is the co-working space in each building. • Sequence 5 is an urban farming bridge.


Sixth floor Plan,Seventh floor Plan

Eight floor Plan,Roof Plan


The picture shows how courtyard charn’n can create the sense of connection throughout the courtyard, the pocket space among 3-4 units and the chan’n bridge function as an urban farming.Also the flexible piping system that allowing the flexibility of water rearrangement in each unit.

The picture shows the building material where the structure is concrete column and beam. The external skin is terracotta cladding.The interior skin is gypsum board ,and the floor is cross laminated timber.


The facade colour influence from the new generation identities and represent the different programming location.

Student Name

Apinyalak Suwannasai

Semester/ Year


Subject/ Project Type





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