River­front Beauty

Hong Kong Tatler Homes - - CONTENTS - BY JACQUELINE KOT

Ar­chi­tec­ture firm Hamil­tons In­ter­na­tional on the luxury Chao Phraya Es­tate in Bangkok

Ar­chi­tects Andy Miller and Richard Scott-Wil­son from Hamil­tons In­ter­na­tional on the lay of the land for the am­bi­tious Chao Phraya Es­tate in Bangkok

Headed by the Bangkok-based Coun­try Group Devel­op­ment, the Chao Phraya Es­tate com­mands an im­pres­sive six-hectare site along Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River and is slated to open in 2018. Once opened, it will in­clude two ho­tels—Capella Bangkok and the Four Sea­sons Ho­tel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River—as well as a Four Sea­sons Pri­vate Res­i­dences and a 350-me­tre river­front prom­e­nade lined with bars and restau­rants.

Hamil­tons In­ter­na­tional, which started out as the in­ter­na­tional arm of the UK based Hamil­tons Ar­chi­tects, was com­mis­sioned to de­sign the es­tate. The firm is headed by Andy Miller and Richard Scott-Wil­son, who both trained un­der the renowned Nor­man Foster, and the duo share their in­sights from the cre­ative process, par­tic­u­larly on the Four Sea­sons Pri­vate Res­i­dences’ in­no­va­tive three-cor­ner lay­out.

“The brief from Coun­try Group Devel­op­ment was for some­thing sim­ple, time­less and el­e­gant”

How is the three-cor­ner con­fig­u­ra­tion rev­o­lu­tion­ary and how will it ben­e­fit the res­i­dents? Richard Scott-Wil­son (RSW): The de­sign was driven by the Chao Phraya River— the up­river and down­river cur­rent of the wa­ter­way was partly the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind the di­ag­o­nal, three-cor­ner con­fig­u­ra­tion, which means that each unit is es­sen­tially a cor­ner unit with views of the river.

How­ever, we also wanted the de­sign to show­case the sky­line of Bangkok. The team went through over 30 op­tion stud­ies to try out ideas. It was very much a process-driven ap­proach, and we found that the di­ag­o­nal con­fig­u­ra­tion would al­low each unit to have max­i­mum views of both the city and the river. The de­sign also al­lows us to have two core sec­tions within the build­ing so, in­stead of one com­mon lobby, the in­ter­sec­tion be­tween the two squares means we can have more in­ti­mate lift lob­bies on each floor, which is more suit­able for the level of luxury that we’re aim­ing for.

Andy Miller (AM): This all came about af­ter long con­ver­sa­tions with the client. It’s easy to just fo­cus on the river but when you look back to­wards the city, the sky­line of Bangkok is also pretty in­ter­est­ing. We also wanted to veer away from the tra­di­tional gar­den-view or city-view of­fer­ing, the re­sult of hav­ing some units at the front and some at the back. Our back­ground, the ar­chi­tec­tural prac­tice in which we were trained, is all about start­ing with a blank piece of pa­per, about not hav­ing pre­con­ceived ideas and try­ing in­stead to de­cide what works best at the site.

What was your over­all de­sign vi­sion for the project? AM: The depth of the site al­lowed us to cre­ate a gar­den-like area with the three build­ings. The res­i­den­tial tower has the high­est den­sity, with the bou­tique-sized Capella Bangkok on one side. The Four Sea­sons Ho­tel Bangkok has 312 rooms but it’s bro­ken down into sec­tions with dif­fer­ent court­yards, so it feels small and in­ti­mate.

When you come off the main road and en­ter the com­plex, you go through a long drive­way and the noise dies down. So there’s also the whole idea of leav­ing the hus­tle and bus­tle of the city be­hind and en­ter­ing an oa­sis of calm and el­e­gance. We also wanted to bring some life and dy­namism to the area around the river, with the long prom­e­nade for bars and restau­rants.

Were any of the spec­i­fi­ca­tions from Coun­try Group Devel­op­ment par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing for you? RSW: As ar­chi­tects, it’s very easy for us to get car­ried away by the de­sign. The brief from Coun­try Group Devel­op­ment was for some­thing time­less, sim­ple and el­e­gant. We don’t of­ten come across a brief like that, so it forced us to step back, re­assess how we ap­proach things and pare back on cer­tain el­e­ments. It’s some­thing that ar­chi­tects don’t do of­ten, so there was a learn­ing curve—but it was also re­fresh­ing for us.

How will the three prop­er­ties dif­fer yet com­ple­ment each other? AM: It needs to look like one es­tate, but the three build­ings also have to stand out in a way. The Capella is mainly to do with the in­te­rior and how it’s op­er­ated; the frame and build­ing is rel­a­tively sim­ple. The de­sign of the res­i­den­tial tower is more play­ful, but you can tell that both build­ings are from the same fam­ily.

In turn, the res­i­den­tial tower doesn’t look in­tim­i­dat­ing—we de­signed it so there are pock­ets of light and shadow, so it looks more el­e­gant and a place that you want to live in. We ap­plied the same con­cept for the Four Sea­sons—there are over 300 rooms, but it’s bro­ken down and gath­ered around dif­fer­ent court­yards for a more in­ti­mate am­bi­ence.

RSW: When you ar­rive at the Capella or the res­i­den­tial tower, from the mo­ment you walk through the doors, you see the river from an el­e­vated view­point. When you ar­rive at the Four Sea­sons, the ex­pe­ri­ence is more about dis­cov­er­ing the river. The Chao Phraya re­veals it­self as you walk through the prop­erty.

What are some of your favourite as­pects of the de­sign? AM: We wanted to make it a place that peo­ple who live in Bangkok want to come to, a des­ti­na­tion that they want to dine at.

RSW: It’s very rare to find a site like this in Bangkok—one that al­lows the land­scape, river and cul­ture to come to­gether. The over­all am­bi­tion of the project was the best thing for us.

THIS PAGE

ONE OF THE INI­TIAL BLACK-AND-WHITE DRAW­INGS OF THE FOUR SEA­SONS PRI­VATE RES­I­DENCES IN BANGKOK

OP­PO­SITE PAGE

FROM TOP: RICHARD SCOTT-WIL­SON (LEFT) AND ANDY MILLER; A COM­PUTER REN­DER­ING OF THE CHAO PHRAYA ES­TATE

OPEN­ING PAGES

AN ARTIST’S REN­DER­ING OF THE CHAO PHRAYA ES­TATE

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