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A sloping site high above a palm-filled valley on an idyllic Thai island provided a perfect excuse for the architects to indulge in an infinity edge pool

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When five friends got together to build this island resort for their friends and families, they wanted everything to have a rock-star quality – right down to the infinity edge pool. Luckily, the site they chose was well-suited to such a project.

David Clarke, director of Map Architecture and Planning, and one of the five owners, says the choice of an infinity edge pool was dictated by the site.

"These pools can be a cliche, but if ever there was a site that really warranted an infinity edge pool, it was this one.

"The hillside drops away dramatically to a dense, palm-filled valley 45 metres below, and when you're sitting in the pool, there's a seamless flow between the distant sea and the edge of the pool."

The choice of pool also made sense logistically – a steep site meant swimmers couldn't access the pool from the downhill side anyway, and to build decking around the pool on every side would have been very expensive.

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Underneath the infinity edge is a narrow moat. The water cascades over the edge, and then is pumped back up to the top. The black tiles lining the pool are continued over the edge, right down to the moat below.

"The tiles give a dark opalescence to the pool, and under direct sunlight they create a mother-of-pearl effect."

In keeping with the luxury theme, a movie screen rolls down at night to allow the owners to lie back and watch movies while lounging in the pool.

The owners expected the pool to be the main focus of activity during the day, so the living and dining pavilions were built to surround the pool. The sloping site meant the architects were able to create a grandstand effect with little environmental intervention.

"We were able to nestle the house into the hill with a minimal amount of cut and fill. We didn't want it to stand out as inappropriate," Clarke says.

They decided on a subtle Thai style of architecture, designed to appeal to both Thai people and foreign visitors – Thai people think the style is western, and Westerners think it's Thai. Dividing the house into pavilions is a Thai concept, as is the style of the two-part pavilion roofs – a steeply sloping upper roof connecting to a low-pitched, eaved roof.

One pavilion accommodates the kitchen and communal living areas, one houses the bedroom suites, and the third a carport, staff quarters, and the guest suite. The bedroom and living areas were built to take advantage of the views out over the pool to the sea.

The kitchen was designed as an open-plan entertaining area, with the heavy-duty, Thai-style kitchen housed in the staff area.

"Typically, Thai kitchens are hidden away. Our kitchen is used pretty much just for breakfast and as a drinks dispensing area," Clarke says.

Overall, he says the house fits the design brief perfectly.

"The five of us wanted a house in paradise, to get away from the stress of our daily jobs in Hong Kong and China."

First published date: 30 August 2005

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Credit List

Architect/kitchen designer/landscape designer/interior designer David Clarke, HKIA, RAIA, AIA, RIBA, Map Architects and Planners (Hong Kong)
Builder/kitchen manufacturer/pool designer Clayton Simms, SWR Construction
Window and door joinery Kawang timber Goldenwood, Bangkok
Window and door hardware Suphan Hardware
Cladding Mai Makar timber cladding Goldenwood, Bangkok
Tiling Glazed terracotta, APK, Bangkok
Flooring Polished sandstone from Korat
Paints Jotun
Heating Steible Home
Audio JBL
Kitchen benchtops and splashback African black granite
Sink, oven, cooktop, microwave Smeg
Refrigerator LG
Courtyard and paving Thai sandstone
Walls/hard landscaping Random Stone walling by SWR Construction
Pool tiles Silver and black tiles by APK, Bangkok
Sculptures From Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand