Studio Locomotive completes garden-topped community centre in Thailand


Architecture practice Studio Locomotive has completed Tree O’Clock, a “communal hub” topped by rooftop gardens for an upcoming housing development in Thailand.

Located in Phuket City, the centre provides the Villa Qabalah housing – which is due to complete at the end of 2024 – with a restaurant, bar, gallery, workshop, health studio and gardens, open to residents and the surrounding community.

Tree O'Clock community centre in Thailand by Studio Locomotive
A sculptural staircase in the community centre mirrors an external staircase

“The venue design challenges the conventional value quality of housing development, often gated and self-contained,” said Studio Locomotive.

Tree O’Clock comprises three blocks that intersect at their corners, with the L-shaped spaces where they meet used to shelter gardens, raised terraces and areas of stepped seating.

Cafe in the Tree O'Clock community centre in Thailand by Studio Locomotive
Studio Locomotive tucked a bar behind the staircase

Inside, the central block contains a sculptural, ziggurat-like staircase, mirroring the external forms and lit by high-level windows and a skylight that look out to the rooftop planting.

A bar is tucked behind this staircase, framed by the inverse of its stepped form, and on either side sits a small gallery space and additional seating area.

Stone steps at a community hub in Thailand
The exterior of Tree O’Clock is made from stone and blackened timber

In addition to providing an amphitheatre-style seating area, the central staircase leads up to a rooftop terrace and a yoga studio, offering views out over the development and a nearby forest.

While the internal spaces were conceived with certain functions in mind, Studio Locomotive designed the centre to be easily adaptable according to the community’s changing needs over time.

“Alternative entryways and paths, amphitheater staircases, divisible space, and furniture arrangements favour Tree O’Clock’s regular use and productive repurposing,” explained Studio Locomotive.

“Programming for indoor-outdoor interactions sparks social connectivity and enriches a sense of belonging.”

Community hub in Thailand by Studio Locomotive
Gardens top the roof of the community centre

Externally, the three blocks are enlivened by a variety of finishes, with a base of rough stone and white render and upper levels clad in vertical planks of black timber.

Inside, the space’s intended flexibility is echoed in the simple, white-wall finishes and wood-lined ceilings, with full-height windows providing views out across the surrounding gardens.

Tree O'Clock in Thailand by Studio Locomotive
The interior is finished with white walls and wood-clad ceilings

In line with plans for the rest of the Villa Qabalah development, Tree O’Clock is topped by numerous planters and trees, for which residents will manage the upkeep.

“Rooftop planters perform as the organic insulation and solar filter, benefiting from year-round tropical rain while providing green shading, evapotranspiration cooling, and moisture storage,” said the studio.

Elsewhere in Thailand, IDIN Architects recently completed Harudot, a cafe with open-topped gabled forms, and Looklen Architects has createn a sunken glass cafe surrounded by a stepped circular landscape.

The photography is by Beer Singnoi.



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