THE LANDSCAPE DESIGN AT PHULAY BAY BY BANGKOK-BASED P LANDSCAPE TRANSPORTS GUESTS INTO A SURREAL AND SERENE WORLD THROUGH THE POETIC MEDIUMS OF NATURE, NOSTALGIA, CULTURE AND ART.
The aim of the landcape design for Phulay Bay The Ritz Carleton Reserve by Bangkok-based landscape and design studio P Landscape (PLA) was to emphasize and enhance the existing environment through sustainable measures of water conservation and planting design while also integrating local Thai myths and cultural heritage into the surroundings.
Phulay Bay itself is located in the sleepy, coastal town of Krabi and overlooks the Andaman Sea with its picturesque limestone islands and spectacular sunsets. Its site is tucked in between a rocky beach coastline and sits in a low-laying area with mountains directly behind. Dense tropical forests populate the mountains and are the birthplace of flourishing streams of spring water. For the duration of the rainy season, the site is lush, green and at times inundated after particularly heavy downpours; however, during the arid months from March to May, the land becomes parched and red clay soils shift and crack under the pressure of the summer heat. Therefore, it became clear from the early design stages that the site’s true vulnerability, and ultimately its biggest opportunity, lay in the correct use and mitigation of water as a natural resource.
External reservoirs, designed with the assistance of a hydraulic engineer, store water throughout the year, while then opening into different ponds through a series of water gates and flowing into cascading streams that circulate the stored water across the site. Portions of the collected water are dedicated to various services including irrigation of the vegetation on site as to eliminate use of portable municipal water resources.
The landscape design integrates a sustainable approach towards water harvesting and preservation of a site’s vegetation, as the water network created for the project provides natural drainage and a water storage system on site for use during the monsoon and dry seasons. Local natural materials, such as sandstone and granite, were combined through the efforts of local craftsmanship to compose a large part of the hardscape that further includes art and ornamental signage features. The rocks uncovered during site construction were further used to create retaining walls and paving stones.
Loose gravel, river stones and sand were also used to compose many of the courts and private villa gardens, aiding in the percolation of water naturally throughout the site. The vegetation palette was chosen based on the plants’ regional proximity and natural adaptation to the site conditions. Meanwhile, the little vegetation that existed on the site was preserved and incorporated into the new landscape.