It can sometimes be hard to find any examples of excellent modern Thai architectural design. While there are many talented new architects and designers working in Thailand, their work often tends to get obscured, and common perceptions of visitors to Thailand about Thai architecture reflect this.
Visitors to Thailand want culture, dining, shopping and night life in Bangkok. In other places they want beaches, temples, forests and night life. Coming to Thailand with this mindset means you equate the best of Thai architecture with the spectacle of religious or state buildings such as Wat Pho or the Grand Palace. Or perhaps people embrace the modernity of steel, glass and height found in the skyscrapers around Silom near Patpong. These skyscrapers show very little that is Thai - they could just as well be placed in Hong Kong or London.
The Department of Architecture (http://www.departmentofarchitecture.co.th/) is attempting to address these perceptions. They are an exciting architectural firm that has several hotel, restaurant and private villa projects under their belt. They bring a playful and eye-catching attention to detail in their work to make spaces really capture the imagination.
In the Pattaya Hilton the main lobby is on the 16th floor. It is a long space with a stunning ceiling hanging that is repeated on the next floor up in the Drift Bar. The ceilings in these spaces have folded fabric hanging down. The lines flow along the ceiling enticing visitors to travel along the space to the sea views at the floor to ceiling windows. The lines undulate like waves bringing an organic irregularity to counterpoise the hard lines and formality of the hotel lobby setting. The muted tones of the ceiling are reflected in the carpet and colour of the furniture.
In the Caribbean Drift Bar upstairs the same ceiling motif is repeated. This time the ceiling waves don't travel the length of the room but the width, leading visitors to the outside seating and views. The same colour scheme as with the lobby is repeated.
The architectural quality of this Pattaya hotel has no doubt contributed to the success of the luxury hotel and hopefully gone some way to changing perceptions of modern Thai architecture