To reinterpret modern architecture in a local vernacular, it takes a visionary, someone who is not afraid to boldly create something spectacular. In the case of Mason, a unique angular stack of private-pool villas on Pattaya’s quiet southeastern shore, that “someone” is a team that includes young Thai entrepreneur Nirut Ngamchamnanrith and award-winning architect Vasu Virajsilp of Vaslab Architecture. The Managing Director of The Steel Public Company Limited, Ngamchamnanrith is no stranger to confidently stepping into the unknown, so collaborating with Virajsilp for his first high-end seaside resort seemed like the perfect fit.
Nirut Ngamchamnanrith: For me, it’s about the history. I love theater and I want to see the local history around the world. I want to see how the architecture represents the people. This is why for Mason, we worked with the Ang Sila community from the area. They’re stone craftspeople and that’s why we named the hotel Mason.
Vasu Virajsilp: I’m interested in space and form. And, of course, to experience spaces in different subtexts like cities, culture…this is always exciting. When I travel, I see the architecture as representative of the city, community, and culture. When I was studying architecture in the 1990s, deconstruction was very popular. It was exciting to see the beginning of that. Deconstruction is about conceptual thinking; how to think about art and architecture within one boundary. I also like the Brutalists.
NN: Pattaya is a well-known destination. It’s only two hours from Bangkok. The land we found for the hotel was away from the party scene, downtown. The area is more peaceful and quieter with a lovely community.
VV: The site is closer to a fishing village. It is a side of Pattaya people don’t know. The city has a big entertainment district, but the hotel has none of that. Instead, Mason showcases the craft and culture of Pattaya.
NN: You can see downtown on one side and nature on the other.
VV: The site is up on a hill, four stories above sea level, which is unique in the flatland of Pattaya.
NN: I visited La Granja, which had such a unique concept, from the design to the farmer’s collective. I was quite surprised because there is no TV or internet. It feels like you’re staying on a farm.
VV: I like hotels with a unique story. Mostly, I find that Design Hotels members all have a tale to tell. I went recently to Hotel Proverbs Taipei. The concept of proverbs is carried through the room and architecture, which creates quite an atmosphere. The experience in the room is also special with old wood contrasted with Renaissance-style furniture and aluminum. In Stockholm, I stayed in a small townhouse hotel. They have less than 10 rooms and common areas like kitchen, living, and dining rooms. You feel like you’re living in a house with some strangers, but you feel at home. There is no menu, so whatever you get for each meal is a surprise. You can even watch them cooking meals for you. For me, it’s about special experiences. It doesn’t have to be luxury but different and individual.
VV: It’s very hard for me to think about what I wished I had done or could do. We are already doing our best. I like to start working on things sooner, but in the end I know that this is the best we could have done. I’d rather focus on the future rather than the past.
NN: I have two idols. One is my mother because she made me the person I am today and taught me how to live and how to be successful. Everybody in the steel industry knows her and she’s a leader in the market. My other idol is Tiger Woods. I love his passion. When he plays golf, he never gives up. He has great determination.
VV: Le Corbusier has greatly influenced my work today. He was one of the original modern architects of the 1920s and 1930s. He created a new language for architecture. The way he thinks about space is beautiful. He was a futurist—to be able to do something like that, it requires more than talent, it needs passion, time, and a lot of energy.