Set high up in the hills of Phuket, Thailand, Villa Amanzi is a tropical paradise that sits lightly on its site. The private villa designed by Original Vision features large windows that offer panoramic ocean views, takes advantage of natural ventilation, and has a vegetated interior courtyard that draws daylight into the home. Inhabitat recently had the pleasure of talking to Original Vision's Adrian McCarroll about his methodology, his Villa Amanzi, and the challenges involved with designing buildings in natural tropical landscapes. Read on for a closer look at this gorgeous project!
Inhabitat: How would you characterize the kind of architecture you create? Is there a unifying theme behind all your projects?
Our principle driving force is to create places and spaces where people just love to be. We aim to design environments that are extraordinary. Space, light and texture are our main tools and we strive to harmonize beauty with function and create architecture with depth and meaning.
Inhabitat: What are your first considerations when approaching a project?
The two elements that are crucial to a successful project are a complete understanding of the site and a concise and accurate brief. We spend a considerable amount of time getting to know our sites and getting down on paper what a project should be before we make the first concepts of design.
Inhabitat: It seems that in this project there was a lot of focus on creating views onto the natural surroundings. How do environment, neighborhood and culture inform your design? What role does nature play in your designs?
The site is one of the two most important elements to us. In Villa Amanzi, the site provided a very rare opportunity of making the outdoor environment completely meld with the villa so that the two have become one. The stunning view, the treacherous rock face and the natural tropical landscape are all completely assimilated in the design.
Inhabitat: What were the client’s needs for this project? What would you have done differently if you didn’t have to take the client into account? For instance, if you were building this residence for yourself?
The client is a friend and he was totally immersed in the design process with us. Many clients would have given up on some of the difficult things we managed to do so, contrary to your question, I do not think this project would have been nearly as successful as it is without the client.
Inhabitat: What risks and challenges were involved in building on this location?
Building on a rock face was always going to be difficult. Couple that with the remoteness of the site and the challenge became immense. The main risks revolved around the stability of the rock itself and being able to create a foothold platform from which all future construction was made possible. The remoteness played its part by limiting the size of any component that could be brought to site. Although it has been carefully concealed, the main bedroom wing is a very large vierendeel truss that had to be delivered in individual parts and erected by hand and chain-winch.
Inhabitat: What challenges did you face in incorporating nature (rock and foliage) in this design?
Probably convincing everyone involved that that is what we were trying to do. Protecting the rock and the landscaping became almost obsessive. One spill of concrete or accidental felling of a tree would have been a disaster.
Inhabitat: What’s the #1 thing you want people to know about this project, or your work as a whole?
We get excited about our work because we are constantly trying to break new ground and create wonderful architecture. Villa Amanzi is a very important place on that journey as it allowed us to take our ideas of an open tropical environment to the limit.
Inhabitat: How do you balance innovative design with functional building?
I firmly believe that design can only be considered as good architecture if the function has been fully integrated and enhanced. Accommodating the function is a very important part of the beauty without which a building may be thought of as art, but should not be considered as architecture.
Inhabitat: What does green design and sustainability mean to you? And how do you try to implement it?
Sustainability is ingrained in the work of Original Vision. It is not seen as an add-on but as an integral element that helps guide design. This ethos, to reduce and reuse as much as possible, is nurtured from a project’s inception, throughout the design process, during construction and on into the final operation of the environments we create.
Inhabitat: What Kind of projects are you working on these days?
We have really found a niche in the Resort and Residential sector. This provides us with fantastic variety in our work. Currently on our drawing boards are everything from one-off homes to multi and mixed use destination resorts. One of the perks in this line of work is that most of it is in beautiful locations.
Inhabitat: What recommendations would you give to an architect entering the profession right now?
Seven or so years in education looks very daunting when you start off, but it soon slips by. One does however need to be disciplined and have a high degree of self-motivation, as one of the most valuable tools one learns is self-learning. At the end of the day, the training one gets as an architect is extremely demanding but it also provides a very broad and sound base, from which a whole spectrum of careers are possible.
Alex Levin is a writer for Granite Transformations, a remodeling company dedicated to advancing green remodeling practices by finding new ways to recycle and reduce waste such as making granite countertops that require less material to produce and can be installed without demolition.