MontAzure, an exclusive mixed-use community project on Kamala Beach in Phuket, assembled a team of design specialists to reveal the latest thinking on what constitutes ‘Inspired Tropical Resort Design’ and why it matters, at the Thailand Creative & Design Center (TCDC) Auditorium last month.
The panelists were led by leading architect and Thai National Artist Lek Bunnag, Argentinian architecture and landscape guru Martin Palleros, whose design for Twinpalms remains one of the pinnacles of tropical modern luxury on Phuket, and MontAzure Managing Director and long-time Phuket resident and developer Roland Bleszynski, with designer Jeff Virangkabutra moderating.
The Estates at MontAzure are 13 ultra-exclusive villas designed to sit in harmony with nature.
Bleszynski, who is driving the project funded by Hong Kong-based ARCH Capital Management and Philean Capital (Singapore), part of Pontiac Land Group, and local partner Narai Group (Thailand), is a passionate advocate of preserving Phuket’s remaining natural resources and is committed to making sure MontAzure is developed into a fully integrated, community development.
As evidence of that commitment, Bleszynski announced at the TCDC event that 200 rai of the project’s upper elevations – nearly half of the entire site — would be turned into a nature reserve with hiking and bike trails to preserve the precious, virgin rainforest that cloaks MontAzure’s slopes and the area’s watershed.
Leading Thai architect Lek Bunnag.
The total MontAzure development comprises 454 rai, valued at THB15 billion, and includes 75 upscale beachfront branded condominiums called Twinpalms Residences MontAzure, 13 exclusive private hillside estate villas or The Estates, each with commanding Andaman Sea views and sprawling over expansive grounds of around 7 rai for each villa, a branded five-star hotel, four beach clubs for public and private use, and the 200 rai nature reserve. Prices range from THB 8 million to THB 93 million.
Bleszynski said: “The design forum at TCDC gives us the opportunity to share and capture the vision and inspiration behind MontAzures’ principal designers. Lek Bunnag’s iconic architecture is celebrated at the hillside villas while Martin Palleros’ strength in master planning and landscape architecture provides an elegant framework across the 454 rai site. Martin is also the designer for the Twinpalms Residences MontAzure on the beach.”
Lek Bunnag spoke with passion about how great design should take its inspiration from nature and that architects need to be attuned to cosmic forces and elemental influences.
“If you allow wind into the courtyard, a water feature does not reflect. Water needs to be still to reflect and create tranquility and serenity. Stillness in architecture is a way to tranquility. Light comes and captures and creates shadows. Moments of beauty. It will happen differently every time. That is the kind of beauty that I love.”
True creativity, he said, came from a child-like place of innocence and freedom. The enemy of creativity, in architecture and in all art, was the past, and becoming hidebound or restricted or walled in by what exists and has been done before.
“My life is a search for serenity and joy,” Bunnag said. “Creativity is about playfulness. It doesn’t come through analytical interpretations. Feelings are the mother of reasoning. Freedom and creativity is within us all. It is already there. But we build a wall around ourselves. And we make little holes.”
Bunnag recounted to a hushed room how he walked from Germany to India when he was 20, to see the world and how it was built. That pilgrimage indelibly burned vivid images of many kinds of architecture into his mind, which he still calls on for inspiration to this day.
The Estates MontAzure, while very much ‘Estates of today’ with elements of modernism, would be ‘unmistakably Thai’. “This will be in two ways,” he said. “First, in elements analysed from the past, and synthesised. Second, it will be imbued with our love of Thailand.”
Bleszynski said of MontAzure’s overall master plan, overseen by Martin Palleros: “It’s smart, low-rise and low-density design which maximises views and breezes and uses materials responsibly and cleverly to blend into the environment. Our site is so large it has its own ecosystem and watershed so we are acutely conscious of preserving that and making our footprint as light as we can.
“When developing on a resort island such as Phuket, with primarily foreign tourists as the main market, it is important to recognize that high-density urban architecture is not representative of Phuket’s intrinsic values, and certainly not what tourists and visitors wish to see and experience. Visitors and new residents choose Phuket partly due to its strong connection to nature and as an escape from the typical urban reality.”
Twinpalms is expected to be completed in 2018.