If there is something that can define the atmosphere of a holiday – it is light. But in natural holiday surroundings it needs to be applied sensitively and with discretion. The Iniala Beach House in Phuket/TH.
Anyone opting for this rural coastal region in Phuket
for a change of scenery, has the chance to stay in the unique and exclusive Iniala Beach House. The complex comprises ten villas designed by different well known international architects’ firms. Two rooms in one of the villas, Villa Bianca, were designed by the Spanish architects’ firm A-cero. There are a number of reasons why this particular villa stand outs: Joaquín Torres and Rafael Llamazares from A-cero designed absolutely everything, including the furniture. What might look similar at first glance actually differs considerably when you compare the details, and the design blends in with the natural surroundings as the light does with the architecture. And since these special qualities – and in particular the lighting design – add that certain something to this coastal resort, it is definitely worth taking a closer look at.
The two bungalows on the seafront are shell-shaped. They feature a firm outer shell with a soft, cosy centre. Like the life concealed inside a real seashell, the "holiday life" contained within Villa Bianca also depends on the tides and available daylight. The structures face each other as if acknowledging they belong together, separated by a shared pool. Sunlight brings everything to life,
riggers energies and responses, pouring through the glazed facades deep into the holiday homes. In the evening, warm rays of sunlight make their way slowly across the sea, the ocean and the patios and into the interior spaces where the large beds take the central role. What we need to promote health and well-being begins on this beach in Villa Bianca when the sun rises
in the morning, and continues over the day and into the night when the glowing evening sun sinks below the horizon – high-quality daylight and natural darkness for physical and mental well-being. Both levels of well-being are set for rest and recreation, and energy reserves that have run dry can be slowly but surely replenished. In contrast to the stressful, modern-day lives they lead – often additionally negatively impacted by being confined to indoor spaces and subjected to unchanging electric light over the day – holidaymakers housed here can rediscover and realign to their biological rhythm, which has been based on the day-night cycle since the beginning of mankind.
People on vacation in Villa Bianca cannot get by with no artificial light at all. But rather than pushing its way to the fore to gain the attention of the architecture, the light applied here appears happy to take a back seat. When required, it seeps subtly through the spaces between the curved wall panels that reflect the shape of waves across the interior room surfaces. The shiny surfaces of the white panels reflect not so much the warm artificial light but rather the sunlight reflected by the sea, the pool and the surrounding nature. The small, round peephole windows are an architectural rendering of water bubbles. The light and dark-coloured local wood used for the flooring, ceiling and walls underlines the relationship of
the holiday homes to the natural environment. Daylight penetrates the space, bringing out the warm colours of the wood, and at dusk discreetly mounted LED strip lighting and LED inground luminaires create a soft glow across the patio roof and pool area.
The two beach houses that make up Villa Bianca clearly belong together. Their outer shells are positioned to form a whole, separated only by a common rectangular pool. The design of the interiors is another story altogether. In the one bungalow the lines and light embracing the walls and furniture flow horizontally, whereas in the other bungalow the focus is more on vertical lines. The way the wood has been applied in the two rooms on the floor and ceiling has also been reversed. Each piece of furniture has been custom made of high-quality polycarbonate and is designed to align with the curved contours of the space. That said, both rooms have paintings hung on the walls. These are accentuated using ceiling-mounted directional spotlights and can actually be purchased and taken home as a sustainable souvenir.
The hotel complex also comprises a restaurant and bar plus areas with tables for two or to accommodate groups. This part of the resort was also designed and realised by A-cero. Daylight is available in abundance and patrons can enjoy grand views of the countryside, beach and ocean. Similar to Villa Bianca, the rounded outer envelope of the building is reminiscent of a shell- fish. Inside the restaurant the guests are surrounded by waves and ripples: the main walls and ceiling are clad with wooden panelling designed to imply the movement of the ocean. Warm white lighting is integrated between the undulating panels to simulate sparkling sunlight reflected on waves and water.
What the resort on Natai Beach offers, and Villa Bianca in particular, may not be a one-off solution, and the design or this kind of holiday may not appeal to everyone or provide what some people are looking for in the way of a relaxing vacation. The Iniala Beach House is an example of how we can restore our natural circadian rhythm with the aid of daylight while taking time off from our working lives, which are generally spent in artificially lit interior environments. Sunlight is essential for our lives, helps us "recharge our batteries" – especially during a break specifically intended to fulfil this purpose– and helps the human body produce the substances that are vital to promote biological processes that maintain the health and quality of our lives. Something as exclusive as Villa Bianca naturally has its price, but when it comes to providing stressed-out individuals with non-prescription natural light, it’s a winner.
Architects: A-cero, Joaquin Torres arquitectos s.l.p. – Joaquín Torres and Rafael Llamazares