Indeed, the Brutalist architecture that emerged during this time strongly divided people into the love and hate camps, but the style’s influence was far reaching and continues to this day. Reinforced concrete and the barebone aesthetics of brutalism rarely come to mind when thinking of Asian architecture; however, the movement is very much part of the pantheon there, albeit rooted in local tradition. We’ve rounded up six beton beauties in Southeast Asia to give you a taste.
A study in craftsmanship, Mason, as its name implies, is an homage to the cultural roots of its Na Jomtien location in Pattaya, and especially the stone carvers of the Ang Sila community. VaSlab’s architecture, therefore, ponders the treatment of form by carving and crafting the structure in a way that echoes the surrounding landscape. Granite, which abounds in this area, is found throughout the hotel, from walls and furniture to bathroom fixtures and decorative objects.
Vasu Virajsilp, principle architect of VaSLab
The king of concrete, Tadao Ando is renowned for his pristine concrete surfaces. Often flooded with natural light, they have earned him many prestigious awards, including the Pritzker Prize. Setouchi Retreat by Onko Chishin beautifully personifies the Japanese architect’s idiosyncratic creative spirit. This masterwork draws light and air into vast spaces, evoking the infinity of traditional Zen poetics. Situated in the verdant Matsuyama area of Japan, overlooking the Seto Inland Sea, the structure was initially built 20 years ago as a private guesthouse. The residence was then converted into a small modern art museum before reopening as Setouchi Retreat by Onko Chishin—all under Ando’s supervision.
Incheon, South Korea
With a focus on being a hideout for travelers, Nest Hotel’s architecture centers on nature. Architecture and design practice JOH & Company came up with a rather unusual nest-like concept for the hotel where the individual layout for the rooms resulted in a “pile-up” design dictating the exterior’s appearance. The high-ceilinged lobby is an impressive showcase for the hotel’s bold style—exposed concrete, waffle ceiling, and glass walls form the perfect stage for the beauty outside.
Osbert Lancaster on Brutalism
Phang Nga, Thailand
On an unspoiled stretch of the Andaman Sea coastline in southern Thailand, Casa de La Flora’s 36 slate-grey cube villas seem to blossom from the ground and reach for the daylight and the sea. With its linear planes evocative of a Le Corbusier edifice, Casa de La Flora is a vision of Brutalism. Most villas are buttressed by topiary conceived by landscape designers T.R.O.P. An integral ingredient to VaSLab’s aesthetic formula, concrete is present throughout. Angular but never piercing, each villa obscures any barrier between guests and their surroundings.
Carved from a new build designed by Seiichiro Takeuchi, a Kyoto-based architect who worked with architecture luminary Tadao Ando for a decade, Node Kyoto’s carefully plotted layout and interiors perfectly complement its in-house art concept. Takeuchi’s primary challenge was the long, narrow, rectangular plot of land on which the hotel was to be built, as well as meeting the requirements of Kyoto’s strict building regulations, enforced to protect the historic city’s landscape. The result is a soothing five-storey reinforced concrete and glass building that quiets the mind as one transitions from the city’s busy streets to the hotel’s provocative interior and art.