Before & After: A Run-Down House in Bangkok Now Hosts a Chic Fusion Restaurant
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Before & After: A Run-Down House in Bangkok Now Hosts a Chic Fusion Restaurant

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By Melissa Dalton
Introducing a new palette of plaster, wood, and terrazzo, local firm ASWA turns a tired ’70s home into an Australian-Thai eatery.

In a residential neighborhood in the center of Bangkok, this derelict 1970 house sat empty for five years. Then in 2018, Architectural Studio of Work – Aholic (ASWA), a local firm founded by Phuttipan Aswakool and Chotiros Techamongklapiwat, was tasked with transforming the abandoned home into a nature-infused restaurant called CLAY, which serves an Australian-Thai fusion menu. 

The firm started by retaining the basic shell of the house, then peeled back layers of poor additions and dilapidated finishes to insert a new palette of plaster, wood, and terrazzo. The finishing touch is a wood-and-glass addition that hosts a dining room, letting eaters feel surrounded by the landscaping.

Before: Exterior

Before: The original 1970 home was 3,000 square feet and had suffered ad-hoc additions over the years.

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After: Exterior

The firm streamlined the original structure down to 2,150 square feet, revealing original features that were worth keeping and augmenting them with an elegant glass addition and new landscaping. The new exterior finish is cement plaster.

First, the firm removed the remnants of previous additions, including aluminum canopies, a garage, storage room, and a maid house, none of which meshed with the existing architecture. "This house had been modified for additional functions that did not respect the beauty of the house," says Aswakool. 

In the process, they drew attention to the pronounced roof eaves and retained key features, such as the wood windows on the front façade, which were stripped of white paint to reveal the wood grain beneath. "We like the old detail of the wood frame, and it is difficult to find nowadays," says Aswakool. The firm repeated that wood detailing in a new trellis at the entry, as well as in the framework for the glass addition.

Before: Interior

Before: The interior of the home was run-down, and all of the mechanical systems had to be replaced.

Before: The goal of the remodel was to respect the existing architecture and "bring it back to life," says the firm.

Before: On the first walk-through, Aswakool thought the ceilings were too low.

"The restaurant has a main concept of ‘Crafted of Nature,’" says Aswakool. "All material selections have to be something that has a texture itself. We respect the beauty of a material and prefer to expose as much as we can." To that end, the firm inserted a streamlined palette of dark-stained wood, concrete plaster tinted gray, and terrazzo floors throughout. 

After: Interior

The wood ceiling was exposed in the remodel, affording more height in the main room, and cement plaster in a soft gray now coats the interior walls, creating cohesion with the exterior.

The light-colored terrazzo flooring sweeps up to form the serving counter at the entry.

Before: Glass Addition Exterior

Before: The team removed an old garage tacked on to the building.  

After: Glass Addition Exterior

Now, a modest glass addition houses a light-filled dining room. The framework is steel clad in dark-stained wood.

Linear concrete pavers surrounded by clumps of short grasses form a sleek walkway at the front.

Before: Glass Addition Interior

Before: The steel awning of the garage was removed, and the windows and doors had the white paint scraped off to restore the wood beneath.

After: Glass Addition Interior

The tiled support column remains as a reminder of the building’s history.

The landscaping shields diners from views of neighboring houses and fashions a natural oasis in the middle of the city.

The new addition reinforces the idea of the restaurant and building being "Crafted of Nature," as tall glass panels measuring between 2.4 to 2.8 meters (or 7.8 to over nine feet) look out on the landscaping, and make the dining room feel ensconced in nature. The darker terrazzo floors inside the main building segue into lighter terrazzo floors in the addition, to separate the spaces "into two atmospheres between light and dark," says the firm.

The tactile quality of the cement plaster and terrazzo flooring mesh with the exterior landscaping to bring together the firm's ideas of "Crafted of Nature" in a cozy corner of the dining room.