onion's shapely beach resort in thailand resembles the changing perception of the moon

onion's shapely beach resort in thailand resembles the changing perception of the moon

onion’s ‘sala samui chaweng beach resort’ is located on thailand’s third largest island and has a panoramic view of the magnificent chaweng beach. ko samui lies in the gulf of thailand off the east coast of surat thani province. it is known for its palm-fringed beaches, coconut groves, crystal clear sea, mountainous rainforest, luxury resorts and spas. the region has a domestic and international airport with travelers stopping by over at chaweng beach before joining the full moon party on ko pha ngan.

the entrance of ‘sala samui chaweng beach resort’ is located between the two existing neem trees



thai based design studio onion started designing the 138-room ‘sala samui chaweng beach resort’ five years ago in the scopes of architecture, interior, hardscape — including decks and swimming pools –, furniture, lighting and object designs. in january 2018, the 52-room beachfront phase was opened for sala’s guests. every room has a private swimming pool and the sea view. there are 2-bedroom presidential pool villas next to the beach with framed views by the old banyan trees, 4-pool villas and the rest of the guest rooms are in the 3-storey building — each room different from one another. on the first floor, the garden pool suites have the swimming pool on the rear. on the second and the third floors, the balcony pool suites have private swimming pool rooms on the balconies overlooking the central beachfront courtyard. the third floor also has the 1-bedroom pool suites facing the ocean.

the guests are welcomed with the sea view framed by the crescent moon curved ceilings made of bamboo blinders



on the opposite side of the chaweng beach road, the 85-room roadside phase of sala samui is expected to be finished in december 2018. onion’s design direction comes from an observation that our perceptions of the moon change every night, even if the source of light remains the same. full moon is the time when we see the moon. black moon is the period when we see no moon. crescent moon is in the space in between. everything at sala samui chaweng beach resort is designed to enhance a sequence of light, shade and shadow. the design process starts by these two questions: what sala’s guests would like to see and how they would like to live when they stay at chaweng beach.

view from the living court looking back to reception area



onion decides to leave a maximum open-air space next to the beach. this courtyard functions like a bright living room. there is no attempt to control the circulation. guests are free to walk around in whatever direction they want. the circle is right for this purpose. daybeds and umbrellas around the circular swimming pools have no direction. there is no particular spot to enter the swimming pool. guests may sit, walk and lie down at any part of its perimeter wherever the water level is for their posture. the swimming pool’s floors gradually slant to the niche wall. each niche fits the human scale for a reason of privacy.

the swimming pool’s floors gradually slant to the niche wall



at night, lighting design mimics an ambience of full moon over the water. onion also adds the white swim rings, named ‘onion ring’, as a friendly gesture. nothing blocking the sea view is an exclusive experience for sala’s guests. from the largest exterior courtyard to the smallest interior space of every room, the ocean is the most picturesque scenery. even at the lobby, one can see the sea right away. this is how the architects perceive the sense of luxury. luxury is not about what we build; rather, it is about the space that we decided not to build. leaving the 70 x 40 square meters beachfront courtyard towards the east in this sense is a luxury.

onion lights the pool up at night to create the image of the full moon reflection over the water



the continuous long and flat facade of the beachfront building is painted in white color. that is to highlight the crescent shadows of the precast concrete walls. at least seven different curves are layered from the building envelops to the interior spaces. each curved wall separates each activity such as swimming, bathing and sleeping. moving shadows make each room different. the most complex shades of grey often appear in the private swimming pool rooms. these spaces are painted by the striped shadows and oval shading devices, overlaid on the curved wall and its crescent shadow.

circulation area towards the guests’ elevator



onion works with local materials and everyday life objects. what makes the ordinary things appear special are the modes of arrangement and the inventions of new forms. bamboo blinders are used as the lobby’s ceiling, triangular pillows are scaled down and reshaped to fit our spaces and the patterns of rattan lamps are redesigned so that the light of each lamps would appear different. coconut shells are used as lamps and other decorative elements such as table legs. onion does not design too many objects for sala samui chaweng beach resort — each element is carefully thought and crafted.

entrance view of the beach resort’s pool villa

interior view of the guest room

each villa includes a pool

the bathtub is located outdoors, sharing a connection with nature

view of the ocean front suite’s pool balcony

the architectural elements create a shade and shadow effect during day time



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: apostolos costarangos | designboom

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