This was the first project for Raimon Land, a listed Thailand developer, run at that time by Nigel Cornick. There was an immediate recognition that this not only had to be done well, but that the practice needed to show what it was capable of. Nigel’s brief called for an optimisation of the saleable area of the site (14,000 square metres GFA) and 2 and 3-bedroom units. Otherwise, it was a blank slate.

HB Design’s response was to seek a creative alternative to the obvious and simple solution of 4-storey blocks. The solution started with the relatively steep hillside site, 500 metres away from the beach, rising approximately 50 metres up from its lower boundary and with stunning views of the sea from the top.

The strategy was to place less emphasis on the architecture of the 52 units and concentrate on how the units connected with one another and responded to the site. The starting point was the image of an Italian hill town cascading down the slope in a seemingly organic way, growing out of the site rather than imposed on it. A 3D terrain model was developed to determine sunshading, orientation, view optimisation and how to break down the site. This resulted in parcelling the site into bottom, medium and top clusters, a series of paired blocks stepping down the hillside and offset from one another. Compact 2-bedroom units were in the bottom sector, larger units in the middle with 3-bedroom duplex units at the top with the premium views.

At the bottom of the site were swimming pools, spa, a small restaurant and a children’s play area. Then there are green spines, which make their way up the hill, separating the blocks, and acting as pedestrian feeders. These are parkscapes that cascade down the hill and help the assembly of the units appear more random and spontaneous than they actually are.

A central idea was that every unit enjoys absolute privacy. The staggering, also developed using 3D modelling, ensures this and one would need to stand at the balustrade of the terrace to be able to see the neighbour below.

The planning of the units stressed the connection between inside and outside with the terrace becoming a living space and the pool a backdrop, a part of the borrowed landscape. To make one’s way down the slope with the path zig-zagging to connect with the entries to the units, is akin to walking through a hanging tropical garden.