The authentic vernacular and classical
creations of Ong-ard Satrabhandhu stand as vigorous,
if lone, way signs to a civilized future.
RACHAMANKHA, A COMPLEX CENTERED ON A SMALL LUXURY HOTEL, is a culmination of developments and experiments in several other architectural projects, including the Tamarind Village. In some ways it is the most personal of the projects and indeed one of the components of the ensemble is the architect’s own private house and library. A visit here is really the only way to physically understand the subtlety and intrinsic elegance of the site and architecture, but the photographs of François Halard evocatively represent its serenity and balance. The courtyard model is exploited again for its inward-looking, introspective character and — in the tropical hot, humid climate of Thailand — provides oases for the public and private spaces. Materials, such as the clay tile of the roofs and the turned teak columns, are authentic physical reminders of the referential antecedents, the courtyard houses of China and Nepal. There are many transformations necessitated by the planning of the myriad rooms, the public spaces, and other elements unknown to the original Thai sources of inspiration; only an architect working carefully and respectfully with his sources could make adaptions seem so natural or even inevitable. Perhaps a secret of this work is its combination of scholarship and deep personal feeling.
One enters the complex via a motor court with a stately building that contains dining room with patio, and proceeds to a reception area through a contrastingly small, enclosed courtyard. This space looks along an axis that connects two manicured courtyards that are separated but linked by an unexpected outside room, a public lounge for reading and quiet conversation. The high roof of this space is supported and articulated by tall teak columns painted the traditional red of the temples, the proportions of this space are based on traditioanl Thai architectural forms – specifically the main viharn of the sixteenth-century Lampang Luang Temple in Lampang province.
Generous colonnades with graceful, low roofs supported on tapering white columns lead to the guest rooms and eventually to a hidden precinct containing the pool and its spa building. Here, tapering white columns support a low veranda that is an extension of the massage spaces. Allusions to the architecture of another temple in Chiang Mai solidify the link of this new place to the old architecture of the temple city.
Photography, Somkid Paimpiyachat, image 8 (right), 12, 16