For the Hyatt Regency, the beauty of the design is in the small details. The brief was to develop a concept deep-rooted in Thai meaning. The result can be characterised as an emotional response to Thai hospitality, underpinned by the values of home and an intrinsic sense of belonging.
Hyatt embraces the Bangkok community with its debutant offering for the Regency brand set within the heart of the bustling commercial neighbourhood of Nana in central Sukhumvit. The place name Nana which means ‘meeting place’ serves as the ideology which augments this social embrace.
The vision for the project was fraught with challenges from the outset. There was a legacy of unfinished structures on the site; one a Hotel block partially completed up to level seven, the second, a twenty storey Residential block. Both were left abandoned due to the economic crash in 2008. Since then the property changed ownership a number times before finally, settling on a unified vision for the project allowing it to achieve its latent potential.
The existing urban fabric was overly dense with a significant lack of green space on the site and in the surrounding area. To address this, a delicate balance between neighbourhood connectivity and detached respite was struck. It was proposed to connect the property to Nana BTS train station via a Sky Bridge which would establish the property as a focal point. However, at street level, it was agreed to step the building back to allow for a landscaped garden to the front. The garden was specifically designed to enhance the vantage point over multiple levels creating a verdant and peacefully inviting arrival experience.
When analysing the Interior spaces, there were two keywords which stood out when establishing the design brief. The first was ‘contrast’. Not only was the aim to create something distinct from the other hotels in the CBD, it was also about creating a space that was converse to the frenetic energy that is Bangkok. There was a desire to create a series of spaces which were natural and calming rather than colourful and chaotic. Because of this, the concept needed to begin much earlier in the guest’s journey to the property. After arriving at the airport and making their way through Sukhumvit, guests would then need to unwind. Rather than create a space that would evoke a reaction, it needed to empathise with their journey. To achieve this, a second keyword ‘humble’ is identified. In particular, a state of Thai humility. The arrival experience is defined by humility and engagement with the senses allowing visitors to come back down to earth. For the Hyatt Regency, the beauty of the design is in the small details. The brief was to create something which is deep-rooted in Thai values. Careful use of restraint is required to create something elegantly understated in order to avoid the danger of going over the top. The result is as much about an emotive response as it is about a specific design concept. Therefore the Hyatt Regency can be considered as a representation of the home as opposed to just another hotel.
As part of the concept, the idea of Thai humility is explored in greater detail. Generally, when Thai people are anxious, they look towards Buddhist teachings for guidance. In order to create a stress-free environment, the design team turned to the Thai Temple for inspiration. A return to the source of personal enlightenment, using it as a guide for developing the narrative as a whole. The design team visited a number of Thailand’s ancient capitals starting as far north as the old city of Sukhothai, which translates as the ‘dawn of happiness’ and the location for many 13th and 14th Century Palaces and Temples. From there, the team visited Ayutthaya, the second capital with its historic temples and monasteries. The final trip was to Thonburi province on the outskirts of Bangkok, the home of many Thai manufacturers and crafts people. The aim was to capture a way of life by deconstructing its core values and applying them in a modern universal language which could be understood and appreciated by a wider audience.
Thai cultural influences are the abiding theme for this hotel. The design is influenced by the Sukhothai, Ayutthaya and Rattanakosin eras of Thai history. At the core of these influences is the profile of the hand of the Buddha. The revered hand which personifies the true meaning of welcome. To reflect this, gold hues are applied conscientiously throughout the hotel.
An example of this is the reception desk in the Lobby which consists of a layering of gold leaf on panelling. This technique is reminiscent of how gold leaf is applied to statues as a mark of respect. The panels that make up the desk are entirely handcrafted and took more than three months to make.
Thai people excel at crafts such as weaving and basketry, and this is integral to the design. The patterns and textures on show reflect these crafts. Traditional Thai objects which are used in everyday life were curated as decorative elements. An example of this can be seen in the Market Café where there are wooden rabbits on display. These are traditional tools used for grating coconuts, which are still used to this day in some provinces. There is also copperware such
as pots and vases, as well as the odd special antique which is placed deliberately amongst ordinary everyday items.
In the Lobby, the aim was to create a residential vibe where people can congregate and feel comfortable. On arrival, there is an underlying feeling of home. Particular reference is made to the Thai house where wooden panelling and profiled fretwork, are uniquely crafted and purposefully ornamental. This is further expressed in the Lobby where the panels are infused with woven copper fabric. These installations are delicately crafted and uniquely handmade taking six months to complete.
Elements of Thai ‘Articraft ‘ is a key constant in the Hotel, leading to a number of collaborations with some of Thailand’s leading Artists. Each of the six public floors exhibits works of a different Artist. Their only brief was to create something unique. On entry, there are two love-themed sculptures which were designed by renowned Thai Artist Nontiwat Jantanapalin, whose pieces are considered national treasures. On the same floor Artist, Thanakrit Thipwaree created an ethereal piece which illustrates a fantastical interpretation of a Thai community who live by the river, reflecting a beautiful ideal of freedom and happiness. The Ballroom and Meeting space is brought to life by the Artist, Beyond Living, who created a fascinating kite concept spanning two floors. This vibrant, playful piece reflects the Sukhothai era when Thai children grew up playing with kites. The kite mural becomes a poignant backdrop for connecting memories of old with new ideas. On the 5th floor, Nawin Beardklang chose to depict Thailand and the ancient artifacts which symbolise the country. Reddish brown hues mixed with gold were used to create a landscape which invokes an atmosphere of serene calm.
The Guestrooms follow on from the theme of the Thai house with its modern, clean line approach to provide a sense of balance and calm. Wooden veneer references the primary material of the traditional ‘bâan reuan’ providing masculinity. This is counterbalanced by touches of femininity, such as textured fabric and wallpaper panels. A unique motif was developed for the guestrooms which were inspired by a pattern from an outfit once worn by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. The idea was based on a collection designed by French couturier Pierre Balmain in 1960 for Her Majesty’s multi-state visit. Balmain’s designs for the Queen were simple yet sophisticated. The flowers depicted in the graphic are reminiscent of the patterns produced for her wardrobe which were widely acclaimed in a time where Thai royal fashion reached the pinnacle of international acclaim.
Project: The Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Design Studio: PIA Interior