words Sophie George
“The kids’ centre sits like a Manta Rayon the rock face, wanting to jump back into the bay,” says Olav Bruin of 24H Architecture. The centre is one of a number of “Eco Specials” completed by the practice at the Soneva Kiri Resort in Thailand, which also include dining tables and babies’ cots.
“The activity and learning centre is intended to excite and inspire children,” says Bruin, who spent one-and-a-half years living on Koh Kood, the island in the Gulf of Thailand where the resort is located. “The relationship with the bay is vital; the building, which stands on the slope of the rock face, looks like it’s leaning towards the water and encourages kids to investigate the tropical world around them.”
The resort sells itself as having an eco-friendly ethos, and the kids’ centre is designed to exemplify the approach. “A key aim was to limit the amount of energy that the centre requires, so local materials were used and the building is naturally ventilated,” says Bruin. “At the moment, it receives power from the resort’s own generator. However, there are plans underway to replace this with solar panels.”
24H Architecture worked with 20 local bamboo specialists to construct the €180,000 centre – and the effect is one of low-tech High Tech. The building consists of bamboo poles and a woven net structure, enabling the facade to be naturally ventilated, so there is no need for air conditioning. The interior is finished with rantam walls and river-red gum flooring, sourced from plantations in Laos.
A cross between a Peter Pan treehouse and an alien spaceship, the centre is complete with a “chill balcony”, auditorium, cinema, library, ice-cream parlour, and art and music rooms.