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Can Design Help Us Reconnect With Nature?

Bangkok-based Bensley Design Studios conceived a series of curated spaces for the Coqoon Spa to help guests reconnect with nature in a subconscious manner.

Can Design Help Us Reconnect With Nature?

Part of The Slate, a recently rebranded, Na-Ranong family-run resort, Coqoon Spa is a stand-alone spa treatment complex. Despite its proximity to the Phuket international airport, the location of the resort at the Nai Yang beach, which sits on the northern part of the island, remains unruffled.

Designed and transformed by the award-winning Bangkok-based, Bensley Design Studios, the resort is considered as the only avant-garde example and a playful narration of the island’s tin mining heritage. However, the Coqoon Spa is set as a running paradox that aligns to its surroundings set in the midst of a luscious rainforest and tropical garden.

For an anomalous design execution to succeed, a like-minded collaboration between a strong designer and adventurous client is vital. “The Slate has a 35-acre land, which requires [the work of] a very talented and creative landscape architect. I could not think of anyone else other than Bill Bensley, whom I invited onboard to help [us] with the transformation of the property. Bill transformed [the Coqoon Spa] into an exciting space that intrigues our guests to discover the sanctuary hidden within,” says Prakaikaew Na-Ranong, the Deputy Managing Director of the Na-Ranong family business.

The Coqoon Spa consists of an entrance pavilion, six treatment rooms, a spa suite with its own accommodation, and the accent of the place – ‘The Nest’, an aptly named treatment suite that sports an organic form reminiscent of a cocoon. Each of the cocoon-like structure hovers beyond 10-metres, supported by a single structural column that coexists with a 100-year-old banyan tree in respect of the existing environment.

The spatial journey of the Coqoon Spa contrasts the conventional spa practice that composes the transitional tempo from the entrance foyer to the deep silence of the treatment spaces. The uniqueness of the Coqoon Spa lies in a holistic approach. A series of curated spaces create the spatial experience of an outdoor journey that elevates guests physically and spiritually.

The journey begins at the entrance pavilion before descending into the lush tropical landscape walk that takes guests through the stairs and a flying bridge to ascend into ‘The Nest’. It assimilates a symbolic walk up into the embracement of Mother Nature. The interior ambiance of ‘The Nest’ is not of an isolated and enclosed space. A light skin evokes an awareness of nature beyond the wall.

The overall hue of the Coqoon Spa blends well with the tropical backdrop, with a touch of modern black and materials in a natural colour scheme. The structural skin of ‘The Nest’ is made out of synthetic rattan – a sustainable approach that requires the hand-weaving skills of local craftsmen, who took over 2 years to complete the structure.

The holistic approach undertaken by the Coqoon Spa brings guests back to nature, while reflecting a seamless integration of design and nature – as if the manmade habitat has been there all along.

Images courtesy of The Slate resort and Bensley Design Studios.

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