In 2008, VaSLab Architecture got a commission to design Casa de La Flora, a seaside boutique resort located in Khao Lhak, Thailand. The original site was only 1/3 of the realized project. La Flora Resort & Spa, the owner, started by buying the land on the left side first. Later they bought another piece of land
to the right, and, finally, they got the right for the land in the middle.
During this land buying process, the architect had to add more room units into the already-designed master plan. As a result, the project had some serious privacy issues for those rooms in the middle of the site. Originally there was no landscape architect in charge of this project. Their plan was just to plant some trees where the space allowed them to. In 2010, after the construction was completed by 70%, VaSLab contacted TROP to join the team to help revising the landscape area. When we first visit the site, we found that most of the site was occupied with concrete, both architectures and also on the floor. There was very little room left for planting anything.
Our first move was to introduce 2 Landscape Systems, one to help solving the privacy issues and the other for the lack-of- green problem in the resort. VaSLab already made each room as pool villas. Those on the beach have a great unobstructed view of the ocean. However, those in the middle did not, and, worse, could see other guests in the room next door.
The first Landscape System was introduced to help screening each room. To provide 100% privacy, a series of vertical landscape was strategically located here and there. Because we had very little room to install this, about 20 centimeters wide for planter space, the system was a combination of wooden walls and hedges. The wooden walls were to provide the needed privacy, while the hedges were to provide some additional “Green” for the resort. Both were switched inside out and outside in along the elevation of the fence. Every room would see both walls from inside, and, at the same time, other guests would see the same from the outside as well.
TROP’s second task was to add as much “green” as possible back to the resort. Because we did not have much space left to plant big trees, our second Landscape System was introduced on the horizontal plane, a ground level. In term of architectural design, VaSLab’s pool villas are inspired from the name
“Flora”. VaSLab’s metaphorical design takes on the act of ‘arising flora’, where each concrete versus wood villa reflects as a flora form, emerges from the ground, and blooms to reach the daylight. Deviated walls and tilted roofs are characterized throughout the series of 36 cubic-form villas, where these tapered elements do not only recall the act of arising flora but they widen the rooms’ perspective frames when looking outward to the sea.
The design of our second landscape system was a continued metaphorical story of the architect’s ‘graphic flowers’. Flowers do not grow by themselves. They are the end product of plant lives. Our new pathway system was a morphological design of one big tree, started with a bigger pathway from the lobby, as ‘a trunk’, and got smaller and smaller once they were directed to each room, as ‘branches’. These ‘branches’ were built on top of an already-built resort office. Its roof could not bare much loading, so, originally, it was supposed to be a huge stone plaza, which would only heat up the resort during the day time.
In our last attempt to make this resort “green”, a series of low raised green planters, about 30cm high, were added in between each ‘branch’. Pinto Peanut was our selective choice to be planted in these planters. Because of its strong resistant to harsh sunlight and its low maintenance requirement, this was a perfect choice for our green carpet. In term of design language, these ‘branches’ and ‘green carpet’ were designed using the same lines as architectures’ ones. The continuity of these lines can be seen through out the resort, interior and exterior, creating a unique environment of the over all project.
Casa de La Flora
Project Name : Casa de La Flora
Completion Date : 2011
Location : Khao Lak, Pangnga, Thailand
Area : Landscape area 8,800 sqm.
Client : La Flora Resort & Spa
Design Company : TROP : terrains + open space
Project Director : Pok Kobkongsanti
Project Designer : Theerapong Sanguansripisut
Concept Designer : Anon Pairot Design Studio
Architect : VaSLab Architecture
Photographer : Wison Tungthunya