Behind the design of the Z9 Resorts and it's sustainable concept

Hello dear readers, I am so happy, this week has been full of positive realization in my personal life, so I wanted this article to be a special one. I decided to approach the subject in a different angle, I had the honor to interview the design manager of a well-known architect firm; Dersyn Studio. I narrowed my questions to the conceptual process behind the sustainable design of this breath-taking project. I believe it is a great way for you to understand what's happening behind the scene of an architectural design project.

The Z9 Resort is a floating resort which perched on Kanchanaburi, Thailand. The resort is famous for its appropriate use of materials and its nature-oriented structure which offer private on-land accommodation and cozy raft accommodations. Each building was built to blend in with the attractiveness of mountain and lake view. One of the main quality of this resort is the sustainable design approaches took by the Dersyn studio, based upon the “3R” concept which is Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Here are the entire questions from my interview with Mr. Nont Komonlasut, the design manager of Dersyn Studio.

What was the inspiration behind the project?

Stunning lakeside and hillside scenic view were the main focus. The structure of the surrounded mountains was also the key concept of the holistic resort designing, and its space planning. The mountain and its visual form have been simplified to simple curve.

These ideas were kept in mind in the criteria for material selections and construction techniques (ej: the shingle roof due to its properties).

What were your goals while building the project?

The goal was to demonstrate the close relationship between natural contexts and the buildings that comprise the resort. Therefore, we kept in mind the fact that the natural context should play the most important role in resort designing, and the buildings should be just a supporting actor. We can compare this relationship to the most famous painting (natural contexts) and its frame (buildings from Z9 Resort).

What steps did the studio take when you worked through the project?

Firstly, we visited the site in a different time period of each day. In order to understand the contexts and the natural surroundings, especially, during sunset and sunrise period since it impacts the overall look of the final design, we call it temporality.

Secondly, we studied local culture and construction techniques of the boathouse.

Thirdly, we created design concepts based on the above “first and second” steps.

Lastly, we offered architectural, interior and planning design alternatives to the client. These design alternative aimed to offer appropriate master planning based on the natural location (to preserve the existing natural surroundings as much as possible) and building management systems.

How is this project different from the ones you did before?

Since the Z9 project is based upon recreating the local boathouse, the construction techniques, material selections, and wastewater treatment were quite different from “on land” project.

What were the challenges that you may have faced while designing the space?

Sometimes the information from site survey may have some conflicts from the actual “on-site” condition. In spite of site adjusting, Dersyn’s team decided to adjust our design to suit the existing context of the site. As a result, the most existing trees have been preserved.

Labor skill and local tools availability are other challenges which we have faced during design and construction processes. Although some construction techniques, based on designer’s point of view, may offer good construction outcomes, they are useless if local labor skill and tools availability can’t effort. Which forced us to have other design options and construction techniques which offer good outcomes and also suit with local availabilities.

Did you work with developers or did you have the full control over the concept phase of a project?

Dersyn Studio takes the lead role and responsibility for the most capacity of the design stage. However, We strongly believe that brainstorming with clients, in term of the development, is always convenient, because good architectural design outcomes should be able to offer benefits to the entire stakeholder (designer, developers, user).

How is your project sustainable?

At Z9, sustainable architecture design approach is based on the “3R” concept (reduce, reuse and recycle), which applied through construction techniques and material selections. The Light-weight structure such as steel was used to build this resort and promotes eco-friendly outcome in many ways. Light-weight and non-rigid materials such as local bamboo, old wood from the existing resort, shingle roof, and vinyl flooring were also important in the process.

Although guess can see the concrete structure in some part of the resort (for example concrete roof deck), this concrete roof deck was built by casting some concrete on the pre-cast concrete flooring. These ways of approach created as less environmental footprint as possible.

The sustainability of the resort is also based on material selections and construction details based on the understanding of natural “on-water” condition. Which makes it a faster and cleaner construction in comparison with a concrete structure. This means construction time can be reduced and less cement water wasted into the soil. The cement water is one of the main reason why the existing trees died in other construction sites, which is one of the reasons why we decided to avoid this technique in our construction

These materials also promote the longevity of the building (design outcome). These benefits are also another aspect of sustainable design as well.

How did you build this house to make it functional for its habitants?

Since the Z9 is a resort, we design rooms that fit these criteria, each rooms is functional, they all offer the comfort of a hotel and the rustic experience of living in a local boathouse. For instance, the guests don’t need a large closet because very few of them want to move all their clothes from their suitcase and put them into the closet, and having to repeat the process again on the check-out date.

What is your opinion regarding architectural design and its evolution for the next 20 years?

Architectural design industries in the next 20 years may be influenced by sustainable design implementation and new construction technologies. therefore, the design and construction methodologies should be done based on these 2 issues. In order to avoid the conflict which may occur during the construction period, these ideas should be implemented at the very first stage of the design process.

That's it guys, I hope you enjoyed this interview and learned more about the conceptual process behind an architectural design project.


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