The Palayana Hua Hin Gets a Modern Makeover

Thai firm Architectkidd’s distinct yet sensitive renovation of the beachfront resort is all about light and space


Scrolling through Architectkidd’s Instagram page, one sees images of buildings wrapped in complex, faceted skins (the results of parametric architecture) alongside those whose facades are made of rustic straw. It’s clear that the Bangkok-based architecture firm is driven by a culture of experimentation to create architecture that — while hardly reserved — engages genuinely with user, environment and context. 

Luke Yeung, who heads the firm together with Jariyawadee Lekawatana and Udomsak Komonvilas, agrees. The Hong Kong-born architect grew up in Canada but decided to put down roots in Thailand, where he saw an immense opportunity to develop this approach. ‘In Thailand, there’s a chance to be hands-on with design, and we love to do that in our work. There’s a strong material culture in Thailand, and a sort of make-it-from-scratch way of thinking and doing things,’ he elaborates. 

The firm’s recent renovation of The Palayana Hua Hin is emblematic of this approach. Originally designed by Habita Architects, the resort was in need of a refresh after ten years of wear and tear, and Architectkidd was engaged to undertake the project. At the same time, the new owners wanted to revitalise the guest experience and rebrand the hotel to make it relevant to the current milieu. The resort town of Hua Hin, just outside of Bangkok, has always been popular with families but is now seeing more luxury travellers and younger crowds. ‘Hua Hin has also become a prominent wedding destination, so the aim was to achieve a new level of sophistication and refinement,’ Yeung says.

The striking entrance is a minimalist tableau of white walls and grey-toned screens, punctuated by a cantilevering front porch roof that signals the start of an arresting spatial trajectory. A carpet of textured cobblestone segues into the reception area — a lofty space composed of blackened steel structures, glass balustrades and brass-finished walls. A mural of swirling lines  in the lounge mirrors the feathery screen behind the reception counter, injecting a theatrical sense of movement into the sleek space. 

This stark modernity is deliberate. ‘The new curved motifs, which feature throughout the resort, allude to the sea and waves. We worked with local artists and fabricators to materialise them,’ shares Yeung. The 23 balconied guestrooms, eight suites and 12 pool villas edge a winding path enveloped in verdant landscaping that opens up onto the beach, with 40 metres of unobstructed sea views.

Guestroom interiors continue the monochrome theme, keeping the focus on the already colourful vistas of azure sky, turquoise sea and myriad shades of green visible through enlarged glass windows. The original room sizes were kept, their spaciousness one of the property’s assets. Placing experience above economics wasn’t easy, but the result is a cohesive yet interesting stitching of old and new elements. Beyond trends, ‘this resort is really all about light and space,’ Yeung concludes.

Text / Jingmei Luo
Images / Luke Yeung