Skyscape: Escape to the roof

To make better use of his five-storey apartment building, a Thai entrepreneur decided to move onto the roof and live there. But not without first creating a suitable “skyscape”…

This is the name that Bangkok-based architectural firm WARchitect gave to the construction for one particularly inventive client – a portmanteau of the words “sky” and “escape”. Just because it fits so perfectly with the overall setting of this unique penthouse project…

Waste not, want not

The story is an unusual one and goes something like this: A Thai entrepreneur was fed up that the space on the roof of his five-storey apartment house was not being put to good use. Looking back today, he recalls that “the roof was only used to store water tanks – so much wasted space!” But he felt that such a flat roof would be an interesting place … well, to live!


In fact, the owner’s intention was clearly to upgrade his property in the Lat Phrao district of Bangkok. At the same time, he wanted to free up the apartment in which he was living so that he could rent it out. So the logical conclusion was for him to move to a penthouse! Needless to say, this roof escape took quite a bit of planning. So the WARchitect team was charged with the task of bringing the concrete plateau above the Bangkok rooftops to life.

A skyscape penthouse

As the planners put it, the rooftop location was an “interestingly unique context” for building a new structure. Which meant that they set the bar high. Their primary aim was that, as befitting a penthouse called “Skyscape”, it should have a clear view of the city without being visible from the street itself.

First of all, a 15 metre-high base was constructed on the flat roof – the penthouse itself was to be placed in the middle of this. The base was to serve as the concealed basement and, because of the new angle, the house itself was shielded from the eyes of passers-by.





As the architects recall: “Our idea was not to make this house feel like a building, but to free it from form. We wanted it to be just a borderless box that emerges out of nowhere in the sky.” The aim was to give the impression that the thickness of the wall and roof was non-existent. Needless to say, they still needed to be able to accommodate lamps, curtains, air conditioning and so on.

Skyscape creates illusions

This means it was necessary to create an illusion: “Our intention was to give an illusion to onlookers that the entire ultra-thin ceiling was in the same straight line.” This was done by means of a special technique, whereby the ceilings were “suspended” from a stable and raised central construction. But this cannot be seen from the entrance level for precisely the same reason why the entire house cannot be seen from the ground.

In other words, everything is concealed behind the angle of vision. The architects add: “These techniques may not be new in architecture. However, with this rooftop house, it is more special since a short distance between the main structure and the exterior helps disguise the techniques we used.”

In other words, no matter how far you go from the penthouse, you won’t see the top of Skyscape – you’ll just fall off the roof of the house itself.


The client was also anxious to keep the design as simple as possible. By their own account, the architects decided “to make this house look more ‘naked’ than usual. And “Balau wood planks” were just the thing for achieving this effect.

Timber and glass style elements

The client already had these planks and wanted them to be used. Combined with large glass fronts, they helped to recreate the unique charm of an old-fashioned wooden coffer. Right at the heart of this is a small courtyard with a specially planted tree that helps users to find their bearings inside the house. The dining area, living room and bedroom are found in the front part while the bathroom, kitchen and storeroom are integrated in the back.

Both the owner and the team of architects are over the moon with how the Skyscape turned out: “The final result is a ‘space’ completed with the warm colour of wood and the cool tone of the sky – exactly as we wanted it to be!” It is truly one of the most heavenly homes in Thailand.

Text: Johannes Stühlinger
Translation: Rosemary Bridger-Lippe
Images: WARchitect