Thursday, 25 July 2013

Beach Architecture

The majority of visitors to Thailand head for the beach. They might stop for a few days in Bangkok and Chiang Mai but for most the focal point of the holiday is going to be a beach milieu. It is thus the buildings found at beach resorts that are going to inform people’s ideas of Thai architecture; that and Thai temples.

The more developed the beach resort area the more the hotels and resorts move away from basic wooden bungalows made of local materials such as bamboo and coconut thatch. It is a shame that the next step up from coconut thatching seems to be the ugly corrugated iron roof.

Since the weather in beach locations is so clement many public buildings consist mostly of columns holding up a roof – walls are unnecessary and prevent natural ventilation. Often the only architectural flourish is the architrave which might be a feature borrowed from temple architecture or some wooden paneling with a ‘Thai’ motif.
Poppies Restaurant in Koh Samui

5 Star hotels in Koh Samui and Phuket might use a Chinese column and arch or Thai sala. These are more nods to the location rather than an attempt at exciting Thai architecture. The desire of the architect is to fulfill the guests’ expectations of luxury and ‘tropical living’ spending resources to make big outdoor areas, unusual swimming pools and what is known as ‘indoor / outdoor’ spaces. The ultimate in luxury seems to be a private swimming pool that comes up to the bedroom window and maybe inside the villa. It is all fairly superficial and governed more by fads in fashion than innovation in architecture.

In places like Koh Phangan where beach accommodation is generally upgrading the focus is still on providing air-con, outdoor baths, swimming pools, hot water and other facilities that can justify a rise in prices.

At beaches moving from the budget to the mid-range such as Haad Salad Beach it is hard to find any structure that stands out architecturally. Perhaps this is as it should be since the star of the show is the white sand, the turquoise sea and the towering palm trees. This might be a better situation as more concrete only increase the heat of an area, and the prices.
Haadlad Prestige Resort and Spa