A Dynamic Beachside Resort Cast in Stone

VaSLab Architecture plays sculptor in the design of MASON Pattaya, where cavernous spaces look out to expansive sea views

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An aerial view of MASON Pattaya reads like a children’s game of building blocks, with each emerald-topped piece facing the Gulf of Thailand. From the beach, the blocks appear more like abstracted caves stacked on the hilly land, mimicking the distant mountain ridges. Designed by Bangkok-based VaSLab Architecture, this resort in Thailand’s coastal city of Pattaya is rich in metaphorical associations.

MASON Pattaya literally bends the rules of traditional Thai resort design. There are no elaborate carvings or heavy teak columns here. Instead, surfaces are skewed and sliced to perform an energetic, contemporary spatial dance. Heralding this approach is the three-storey reception and restaurant block — a looming sculptural mass of timber and stone. Faceted cut-outs frame a picturesque vista of the 35 villas below, which are accessed via a matrix of pathways both cloistered and open.

‘The sense of connection to the beach is carefully manipulated. Approaching from the double-height lobby, one’s senses are heightened when walking down the grand stairway toward the villas. The hierarchy of spaces is conceived not only visually through different levels of reflective ponds, but also proprioceptively through the combination of outdoor landscape and semi-outdoor, tunnel-like transitional spaces,’ says Vasu Virajsilp, principal and director of VaSLab Architecture, of this crafted trajectory.

The undulating architecture respects the site: villas tiered on three levels trace the 12-metre drop from the entrance to Na Jomtien beach, with the stacked arrangement leveraging the sea views in the best way. Spaces interlock to closely knit site and function. In the Duplex Villas, for example, the slope provides a natural setting for the assemblage of the master bedroom over the living room.

Beyond function, strong narratives guide MASON’s design. The first is about the land, as Virajsilp explains that ‘the architecture is metaphorically sculpted in order to become one with nature. Site conditions are also preserved as much as possible to minimise impact on the environment.’ A second narrative introduces the local Angsila community of rock carvers and artisans through the abundant use of local granite, as reflected in the resort’s name. Concrete structures, stone bathtubs and terrazzo washbasins perpetuate the cave imagery, while sustainably sourced timber and artisanal elements, like Thai artist Korakot Aromdee’s woven bamboo light fixtures, lighten the robust materiality.

Throughout, skylights and floor-to-ceiling glazing flood interiors with natural light, but architectural mitigation ensures it’s never too much. For instance, a C-shaped concrete form envelops each villa, with the top stretching outwards to provide sun and rain protection. Four villa types provide distinctive encounters with the setting, the most dramatic being the Beachfront and Beachside Villas. Here, guests step down between grassed roofs on staircases built over light-filtering glass boxes that separate sleeping and bathing zones. 

MASON reflects all of architect Virajsilp’s principles about creating human-centric, sensorial spaces that are not only driven by innovation and sustainability but also capture the genius loci so as to offer guests a unique experience. 

Text / Jingmei Luo
Images / Spaceshift Studio

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