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. It has a domestic and international airport. Travelers stop over at Chaweng Beach before joining the Full Moon Party on Ko Pha Ngan.
Onion started designing 138-room Sala Samui Chaweng Beach Resort 5 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 Villa next to the beach, framed the view by the old Banyan Trees, 4-Pool Villas and the rest of the guest rooms are in the 3-storey building. Each room is different. On the first floor, Garden Pool Suites have the swimming pool on the rear. On the second and the third floors, 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. 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.
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.
At night, lighting design mimics an ambience of full moon in the water. Onion also add the white swim rings, named Onion Ring, as a friendly gesture. Nothing blocks 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 a most picturesque scenery. Even at the lobby, one can see the sea right away. This is how we 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 70×40 square meters beachfront courtyard towards the East in this sense is a luxury.
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 7 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. A most complex shades of grey often appear in the private swimming pool rooms. These spaces are painted by the shadows of stripe and oval shading devices, overlaid on the curved wall and its crescent shadow.
Onion works with local materials and everyday life objects. What makes the ordinary things appeared 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. 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 object is thought of with care.