Light & dark...

Tierra designs new villa on Phuket's coastal headland

by James 22 December 2010
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    Tierra’s design for a private residence and landscape in Phuket embodies a series of contradictions and nuances; site, brief, experiences and cultural typologies. Located on the west coast of Phuket, the site is set within the undulating terrain of the island, remote from the established areas of tourist endeavours and within a secluded private estate. Set within a lush tropical landscape, the site commands panoramic views of the Andaman Sea and surrounding hills. The design reflects the spatial and brief aspirations of containment and expanse and the threshold of the in-between.

    The three wing, four level ‘z’ shaped form of the building, sited in the middle of the site, creates these three distinct spatial experiences. The development estate’s local granite cobbled terrace walls are extended to weave into the site, finishing at an arrival podium and water feature for the residence. With the building’s living wing elevated, a forecourt is created by the landscape and guest wing. The large entry reflection pond shadowed by the living span above, forms a threshold between the forecourt and the expanse of the ocean beyond.

    Limestone clad walls with their expressive horizontal jointing reinforce the beauty and clarity of the ocean expanse beyond, in keeping with the client’s desire for an inspiring approach to the building. Interpreting the traditional typology of the Thai residences with separate pavilions but having a unity as a whole, the living wing, connected by a glass enclosed spiral staircase from the pond, is clearly distinct from the complex. The linearity of the volume, the transparency and operability of the glass enclosure, light stone interior and the kitchen islands reflect this traditional typology though expressed in the modern.

    Whilst fulfilling their need to have a large space for entertainment, it has been recognised by the client as far exceeding their expectations, with its unique floating experience and lantern like appearance at night. The adjacent two level guest wing separated from the living by a terrace, is experientially connected to the forecourt landscape and surrounding mountains. Views of the sea are intentionally limited, framed from within its’ teak clad and screen enclosure. Its separateness is part of the client’s brief to provide a private house within a house.

    The interior volumes are generous and well appointed with finely detailed stone floors and walls and fittings. In contrast, the master wing obscured from the entry approach, firmly occupies the territory of the panorama. Similarly defined as a separate volume, the master bedroom, study and amenities below are expressed as a teak-clad upper level on a limestone feature podium. The stone clad wall veils a separate corridor and is expressed with a darker palette of timber and stone, leading to a double volume lounge and jungle beyond. A large roof deck to the entire wing is revelatory of the site’s position on the coastal headland.

    Following the terrain of the site, the pool and social spaces are stepped below, offering privacy from the entry but open to views of the sea. The pool traverses the site and while generous in scale, is distinctly secluded by its connection with the site’s rocky outcrops and created tropical landscape. The scale of the house becomes readily apparent and its cascading landscaped pathways lead to the discovery of the coastal edge beyond through the dense landscape.


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