Quiet Time at The Library in Thailand

General / People / Places / April 20, 2012

One of the more interesting hotels to open in Thailand in the past five years is The Library, an oceanfront affair that offers writers and bibliophiles a lush respite from deadlines, clients and editors.  A+A recently interviewed Kasemtham Sornsong, managing director and owner of the property, via email:

What’s the size of the property?

The Library is a smart, conceptual hotel located at the heart of Chaweng Beach in Koh Samui. The land area is approximately one and a half acres with a 50-meter beachfront area. There are a total of 26 accommodation units consisting of 13 Smart Studios and 13 Exotic Suites. The floor area of each is 67 sq. meters and 76 sq. meters respectively. Each unit has a view of a verdant tropical garden and a glimpse of the sea.

What materials were used?

Although the main structures are made of concrete, we used a lot of wood for the interior floors, shutters and furnishings. In creating a perfect sense of relaxation, I find it important to strike a balance between the coolness of concrete and steel and the warmth of natural wood. Texture and touch are also crucial in the design process. Thus, for example, instead of using concrete for the white-painted floors of the Studio rooms, I opted to have it as wood. Another vital element is glass, and we used only the finest ones. We have floor-to-ceiling glass doors in each room; they open up to the garden, making interiors an extension of nature outside.

What is the design intent?

The design of The Library stemmed from my belief that simplicity is the hallmark of true sophistication and achieving happiness is not complicated at all. Thus, The Library was conceived and built in a semi-minimalist architectural style with carefully-placed accents of bold colors against alabaster-white structures. It is my intention to decorate the exteriors and interiors sparsely as I hope that the clean lines and wide uncluttered spaces will give our guests perfect venues to think, to reflect and to use their imagination. Other elements that were particularly important in the design process are respect for the beauty and integrity of existing nature, a well-balanced interplay of warm and cool color tones and the provision of high technology facilities to fulfill a modern convenient lifestyle.

Its inspiration?

We live in an age when advancement in technology and way of life is happening at break-neck speeds. I believe though that the book, being a repository of stories and experiences is immortal. The Library was built as a place where individual story is the root of the entire hotel concept. We invite our guests to become the writers of their own personal stories while staying with us. We know that our guests themselves know best how to create their perfect holiday, and we do not push or lead them one way or another. What we provide are tailor-made services that help our guests fulfill their holiday goals. The Library can thus be likened to a book of white clean pages, waiting to be filled with colorful characters and fantastic experiences.

What challenges did the design pose when constructing?

Earlier I mentioned about my conviction in maintaining the integrity of existing nature in the property.  During the early phases of the design process, the trees that are endemic in the land posed a bit of a challenge for us. Using bulldozers was out of the question. Ultimately, it was the age-old trees that dictated the overall layout of The Library. All structures were created to blend in with them. Another challenge we encountered is the location of The Library itself, which is in the heart of the town area of Koh Samui. Chaweng town can be quite busy at times.  

How did the site drive the solution?

The age-old trees in The Library are its original inhabitants, and I am eager to preserve them as much as I can. The solution is to build around them. In fact, they are the true planners of The Library. We even have trees that weave through our buildings. At the entrance area, we built two massive gray walls and by passing through them, the hustle and bustle of the outside world is immediately cut out. In front is our expansive garden with the blue sea at the end. I decided to limit the footprint of our structures and to focus more in the beauty of the natural ecology. I hope that in doing so, The Library would become a calm oasis at the center of Chaweng town.

Who are your guests?

Our guests come from different parts of the world. We also have a strong clientele in the local market. If I were to describe our guests, they are sophisticated, avant-garde and chic.  They collectively define The Library as it is today.

Architect’s background?

Ms. Tirawan Songsawat has long been in the decoration and interior design industry – a period of more than 10 years. Her reputation for simple and sophisticated designs has quickly spread through word-of-mouth from her clients. She is fond of using old wood as a material in building, and her design philosophy is “Simple décor doesn’t mean there is no design.” Most of her clients show their appreciation of her talent in transforming basic materials to art pieces with innovative style.

For The Library project, she acted as the Project Designer, initiating the overall concepts and interior work, as well as the landscaping. Her inspiration is based on her beliefs, shared with the owner, regarding the value of nature and happiness in life. For Ms. Tirawan, real happiness is simple if we know how to see it. Basic things in life and existing natural resources are valuable more than what is apparent. We need only time and space to feel, touch and treasure it.

For more on The Library, go to http://www.thelibrary.co.th/

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Michael Welton
I write about architecture, art, and design for national and international publications. I am the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand" (Routledge, 2015), and the former architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.




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