Sino-Portuguese Architecture in Phuket
Much of the architecture in Thailand can be described as Asian-fusion. More specifically, what you’ll find in wealthier areas and urban city centers is a lot of Sino-Portuguese architecture. It’s also commonly referred to as Chinese Baroque and Straits eclectic architecture. It’s an an Asian hybrid design style incorporating both Chinese and the Portuguese/European architecture styles. That’s why it’s so yummy to look at – it is anything but minimal. It has a lot going on!
Phuket’s old town was one of the epicenters of the tin mining and trade during the era of Western imperialism, during which time Portuguese settlers took over the trade port of Malacca. They brought with them western architectural stylings, and employed Chinese workers to build. Through a mixture of their art and building styles Sino-Portuguese architecture was formed.
One of the elements of that intersection is the roof details – the red roof tiling is a particularly western architectural trait, but the curve of the tiles is eastern. Another is in the wooden shuttered windows (western) with elaborate decorative flourishes on the handles or on sidings (eastern). These features are evident both in the urban centers and in the many Sino-Portuguese mansions found throughout Phuket.
Modern Stylings of Bangkok, Thailand’s Capital
By contrast, when you venture over to Bangkok, the Thai capital, you’re overwhelmed by futuristic, blocky high rises. Like any bustling city, you’ll find a mixture of old and new. But these days, Bangkok certainly leans towards the new, urban decor, with nods to traditional Asian architecture in the form of decorative elements, rather than structural. You’ll see a lot of modern, glass high rises involving greenery – plants growing up the sides, etc.
Of course every once in a while, you’ll stumble upon something magical – an old temple or fortress, something that looks like it’s out of a fairy tale. From Traditional Colonial to the Ultra Modern, you’ll find it all in Bangkok. Traditionally Thai homes and structures like these, were built in accordance to a spiritual sanctification – rituals to ‘guard against ghosts and evil spirits,’ but of course modernization has diminished these practices, but many of the results of these building practices still stand.
Koh Chang: Asian Fusion Architecture
Koh Chang, Thailand is more remote than both Bangkok and Phuket, thus is written about far less frequently. But the The Dewa Resort, Koh Chang is the perfect example of fusion architecture we were talking about before, combining elements of all of the structures above with a coastal bend. The Dewa Koh Chang resort blends elements of rustic, tropical, and modern contemporary elements and is built to blend with the surrounding Klong Prao Beach.
Throughout Thailand you’ll find a lot of sala Thais – unmistakable, open pavilions people use to duck under during the frequent spells of rainfall.