Architectural digest: Lanna, Northern Thailand

Architectural digest: Lanna, Northern Thailand

Rustic fantastic

Text: Adibah Isa

Image: François Halard

House hunting? Take a cue from the style notes of Lanna, Northern Thailand in a new book by architect Ong-art Satrabhandhu

How many times have you visited a hotel and lusted after something to bring home? We're not talking about gold-encrusted truffles left on your pillow or a rum-incensed candle — the things we're gunning for lie on a grander scale: centuries-old treasure chests, lime-plastered brick walls and imposing columns.

In the case of Rachamankha, a boutique hotel part of Secret Retreats, we're taking cues from four centuries of Buddhist history: a mix of Chinese, Dai, Lua, Laotian, and Burmese influences. The personal project of interior designer and owner Rooj Changtrakul and his step-father, award-winning Thai architect Ong-ard Satrabhandu, the property's images are part of A Tradition of Serenity, a recently released title documenting tropical houses.

1. Balance is everything

Leonardo Da Vinci called it first: divine proportion. The property's biggest secret lies in its balance, which respects the law of ancient builders. Collonaded courtyards are carefully orchestrated and sequenced, inspired by 11th-Century BC Chinese dwellings, from which Northern Thai architecture originates from. Satrabhandu also executes balance in his composition of light and dark, open and closed spaces.

2. Make antiques functional

Don't just let them stand still and look pretty — antiques are pretty fantastic as funtional objects too. Satrabhandu makes use of antique Laotian rain drums as tables in the lobby, as well as Chinese porcelain as both decorative and functional vases. Instead of leaving brick walls bare, the architect also used traditional lime plaster over them, incorporating the same technique used in temples since the founding of Chiang Mai in 1926.

3. Choose colours that complement the natural environment

In Earth tones we trust. Satrabhandu favoured the use of sand, terracotta, concrete, bamboo, reed and woodwork across the property, in line with its lush surroundings. This colour palette washed over holy scriptures, silk drapes, tassels, blinds and mats. 

For more information and to purchase A Tradition of Serenity, click here.