Sala Bang Pa-In
The contemporary hotel referenced from the context
of a historical Thai dwelling on the Chao Phraya River

Sometimes, travelling isn’t always for a getaway. It is experiences and stories along the journey that becomes the answer to many travellers. They fascinate by the encounter with different cultures and people during the journey which creates a new and unforgettable experience ever…

Sala Bang Pa-In, a newly built hotel in the Sala Hospitality Group, located in the slow-life rural area, is, therefore, a new destination intentionally designed to harmoniously synergize a contemporary story with the surrounding context. The obtuse double gable roof tiles, a traditional Thai house with an elevated basement, or a rural lifestyle along the Chao Phraya River are welcomed to the travelers.

A contemporary hotel that seamlessly harmonizes with the surrounding context

“When I went to the site, I found that it’s very beautiful and special. Because it is nestled on an island in the Chao Phraya River, which is almost impossible to find anywhere else. Therefore, we want to build a destination where guests have full access to the surrounding aquatic landscape. Another thing that I am impressed with is the rural context of the site. It isn’t located in an urban area nor a tourist city.” says Twitee Vajrabhaya Teparkum, an architect of Department of ARCHITECTURE Co.

To allow guests to truly experience being in the middle of the countryside in the neighborhood, the architects designed the hotel to be connected to the original charming context, to be part of the community and not be alienated. How to seamlessly harmonized the contemporary architecture with the surrounding context is a problem that the architect team has to solve.

“I hopped on a boat to inspect the surrounding waterfront houses. The characters of those houses are similar to the typical rural houses in Thailand. So, I would like to imply the character of those houses to the building together with contemporary design. It is an interpretation of a Thai village life context to a contemporary architectural building.” Khun Twitee explained.

Welcoming with ‘First Impression’ that references a village life

Located on a small island in the Chao Phraya River, the guests will have to park on the opposite side before meeting the lobby that is welcomed the resort’s guests with the rural setting. Surrounded by the dwellings of the villagers, the designer has to integrate the architectural structure to the town ambiance without trying to scream for attention

But why is the building painted red? I believe many people doubt that too. Khun Twitee continues to say that the surrounding houses were painted with bright colors such as orange, red, green, and blue. The paint created a fun and interesting character for the Thai rural houses in present. The red color is also outstanding while blend in seamlessly with other neighboring colorful houses.

The land is on a lower elevation which is exposed to floods every year. However, the owner and the architect have decided not to do the land reclamation to make the land higher and therefore release the water to the surrounding neighbors. The architect solves the problem by designing the lobby to be a Thai rural house with an elevated floor to avoid the flood which blends in with the characters of the houses in the neighborhood at the same time.

(Welcoming guests in the basement of Thai houses also splendidly creates homey experience in Thai style)
(All furniture inside lobby is loose furniture including electrical sockets installed on the ceiling to prepare for floods that happened every year)

To enter the resort’s main compound, the guest rooms, or other parts of the hotel, the guests have to walk across an arched bridge span over the Chao Phraya River where they can comfortably enjoy the view of the bay and the neighborhood on the opposite side. The architect also intended to paint the bridge in red color to blend it in the village but still interestingly create a distinctive feature.

Connecting people through the story of the Chao Phraya River

The architects intended to connect people to the life of the Chao Phraya River that flow along the area via the space design within the resort. Across the red bridge arching above the river, there is the round Arrival Terrace with two giants sprawling Chamchuri trees that welcoming guests with a shady atmosphere and inviting the guests to relax at the unhurried boats and the laminar currents.

The two Chamchuri trees are originally situated in the area. The design team and the owner agreed to preserve the trees knowing that the trees will be an obstacle to the design limitation. As the land had been flooded in the past, the team has to do the land reclamation in the hotel area except for the area the two Chamchuri trees are situated as they couldn’t fill soil over the tree roots. The design team, therefore, design the area to be a sunken seating area that connects to the main level of the hotel area. The rounded Arrival Terrace becomes an area where guests can sit back and relax with the river view and enjoy the natural breezes.

The Arrival Terrace area is also connected to the communal swimming pool which runs parallel with the river. This is to enhance the guests’ experience with the river, to connect the guests as close to the river as possible. Likewise, the resort’s area layout is designed for each room to face the river so that the guest can fully enjoy the view. The resort offers three types of rooms: a Deluxe, a Villa, and a 3 Bedroom Villa.

The Deluxe rooms are set behind the communal swimming pool facing the Chao Phraya River. Since the Deluxe is the smallest type, the architect put large windows and a Bay Window seating area where the guests can comfortably sit and relax with the view, the boat, or the life by the river.

A Villa room type offers extra privacy with an extensive private terrace and private swimming pool linking to the river. There are floor-to-ceiling windows in the interior space to allow guests to enjoy the river which is the essence of the area where the project is located.

Not only the Villa is special for the access to the river view, but the bedroom is also designed to be in between the nature for both in the front and the back. This gives the Villa privacy and the natural environment as if residing in a private riverside house.

The 3-bedroom villa type is the most exclusive and largest room in the hotel. The architect situated this room type on the farthest end of the site which is exposed to the unobstructed aesthetic views of both sides of the bays. There are three-sided windows in the living room and the master bedroom like any other room in the resort.

Interpret ‘contemporary’ in a modern way

While the typical gable roof has been used in the other parts of the resort to convey Thai context, the hotel’s restaurant has to be stand out and memorable. The architect still sticks with the gable but makes it more modern by changing the material to a transparent canvas instead. The unequal gable elevation, hence, changes the image of the traditional gable. Additionally, the higher height of the roof helps with ventilation and makes the restaurant look airier as well.

The hotel’s restaurant has been dividing into two parts. On one side, the building is facing the greenery space in the resort, served as a communal walkway to the guest rooms. On the other side, the building is facing the river with an outdoor area for the guests to enjoy the waterfront view in the evening. The outdoor area is surrounded by big trees that one day will grow into sprawling giants’ trees and provide shade within the area.

The architect also designed the partition walls inside the restaurant by building an Architectural Wall from bricks made with special techniques to make it look like floating shelves that are attached by a thin structure. The shelves consist of a dozen of betta fish jars that add life and color to the space and reflect the fun activities and culture of the locals in the neighborhood.

(Master Plan)
(Internal Courtyard acts as a communal garden that separates the walkway to the rooms in each section of the hotel.)
(Architectural Wall with a dozen betta fish jars that reflecting the culture of the locals in the neighborhood.)

Simple materials that add value and become special

“I use very basic materials in the design of the hotel. The building consists of bricks and plaster, together with a plain corrugated roof. The materials are easy to find. The challenge is that how to make these materials extraordinary?”

A simple gable roof building that blends in with the surrounding context, therefore, perfectly hidden details or contemporary details. Large windows with wooden frames bring in a feeling of relaxation and delicacy. The wooden cornices on the façade are randomly designed in different rhythms. This makes the ordinary brick and plaster buildings look more dimensional and with more gimmicks.

Natural wood combined with Ivory white color is the main material for the room interiors to increase comfort and relaxation. It is complemented with fabric to make the overall room environment as soft and light as possible. Khun Twitee added that the architect team is designed most of the furniture focusing on wood and woven rattan as the main decorative element which reflecting the local village in Thailand.

(Artificial rattan designed to add gimmicks inspired by the shape of a Thai weave basketry fish trap or local weaving techniques.)

When talking about Ayutthaya, the quintessence material is “Brick”, which is the unprompted character of the ancient place. The brick walls are painted in white to make them more contemporary. The architect used the void on the walls to create a dimension of light and shadow, exposed to the natural light beautifully.

Hotels or resorts are places where people temporarily stay. We need to interpret what they want to experience, what they need, and how can we design to fit those needs. What I like the most about Sala Bang Pa-In is that I could build a space that really connects people to nature, river, or the neighborhood.” It’s not the architecture or just the context. But it is the contemporary architecture that was formed together with the understanding of the surrounding neighborhood. It fulfills the relaxation moment in a way that could not be found anywhere else and maintains the charm of the local culture as well.

Project Information :
Ayutthaya, Thailand
Land Plot:
4.8 rai
Total Built Floor Area: 4,000 sq.m.

Architects ,Interior & Landscape : Department of ARCHITECTURE Co., Ltd.
Principals in Charge: Twitee  Vajrabhaya , Amata Luphaiboon
Design Team: Jirapatr Jirasukprasert , Worrawit Leangweeradech ,Tanapat Phanlert ,Ramida Sakulteera ,Kwanchanok Pornchaipisut ,Fahlada Roonnaphai
Fabric and Accessory Designer:  Gasinee Chieu
Lighting Designer: Accent Studio x FOS Lighting Studio Co., Ltd.
Structural Engineer: POST Co., Ltd.
M&E Engineer: MITR Technical Consultant Co., Ltd
Soil Engineer: Suttisak Soralump, Ph.D.
Construction Management: P.H.2000 Consultant Engineer Co., Ltd.
General Contractor: S45 Engineering Co., Ltd , Double Click Construction Co.,Ltd
M&E contractor: SKT Engineering Co.,Ltd
Interior Contractor: New Muangthong Furniture (1993) Co., Ltd.

Photographer: W Workspace

Rangsima Arunthanavut

Rangsima Arunthanavut