Blog : Hotel Design

Uthai Heritage Hotel: From Old Schoolhouse to Boutique Hotel off the Beaten Path

Uthai Heritage Hotel: From Old Schoolhouse to Boutique Hotel off the Beaten Path

/ Uthai Thani, Thailand /

/ Story: Kor Lordkam / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Courtesy of Supergreen Studio /

Like going back in time, a new boutique hotel has opened in beautiful small town Uthai Thani, one of the last few unspoiled places in the countryside. Named “Uthai Heritage”, it’s an off-the-beaten-track place of accommodation nestled in a peaceful neighborhood untouched by urban development.

Uthai Heritage Hotel

Formerly the home of “Uthai Withayalai School”, the property was tastefully renovated as a boutique hotel in a class of its own. It was meant to be an alternative travel destination for those wishing to escape the popular tourist traps. An amazing hidden place people often miss, Uthai Thani lies to the north of Kanchanaburi and west of Nakhon Sawan, a major city 250 km north of Bangkok.

Uthai Heritage Hotel

By way of introduction, the school was fully operational from 1957 until 1995. The difficulties that ensued from a decline in economic activity and environmental neglect resulted in it gradually falling into disrepair. But the owner was determined to keep the two-story buildings on the property in working order by checking and repairing regularly.

The owner felt a sentimental attachment to the wooden schoolhouse. After everything has changed, he thought it wise to give it a complete makeover, transforming it into a boutique hotel. In a way, it contributed significantly to the preservation of the historic identity of his neighborhood and, at the same time, attracted new tourists to the area by providing affordable hotel accommodations.

It was a metamorphosis of purpose that saw most of the classrooms transform into hotel rooms while others were remade as reception halls and venues for social activity, including a café and nearby cozy swimming pool.

Uthai Heritage Hotel

Uthai Heritage Hotel

Architecturally speaking, the renovation project was thoughtfully devised to ensure the old wooden structure remained intact. At the same time, a solid framework of steel was added for long-term strength and durability performance.

Uthai Heritage Hotel

To showcase the small town’s history and cultural identity, old building parts were kept in perfect conditions, including door and window shutters as well as the old school flagpole and the signboard at the front. At the same time, they were meticulous about making the strengthening structure and materials fit right in with the original wooden buildings.

Uthai Heritage Hotel

Uthai Heritage Hotel

The overall effect is impressive. For increased privacy and soundproof qualities in the rooms, the walls are built of brickwork and plastered to form a neat, smooth surface. The new boutique hotel boasts the simplicity of a U-shaped floor plan with lush green lawns at the center hemmed in by native plants and well-designed corridors and connecting spaces.

Time has left its imprint. A friendly message on the stairway wall calls to the mind fond memories of old school days.

Uthai Heritage Hotel

Because heritage matters, the old flagstaff remains where it has always been as storytelling artifact. Where necessary, new units of construction are added to the existing building plan to support and facilitate new business operations. They include new hotel rooms and hallways providing access to places on the premises.

Uthai Heritage Hotel

Uthai Heritage Hotel

Uthai Heritage Hotel
Parts of the original framework are preserved for their power of historic and cultural storytelling.

It’s a comfortable place, allowing people to feel relaxed and at home. Air conditioning is there, although it’s used very little by guests who prefer reconnections with nature and the sound effect produced by rain and leaves rustling in the breeze. If a journey in time is your cup of tea, you’ve come to the right place.

Uthai Heritage Hotel
Like a journey through time, the U-shaped schoolhouse transforms in to an attractive boutique hotel with lush green lawns hemmed in by native plants.

Uthai Heritage Hotel


Architect: Supergreen Studio


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The Pusayapuri Hotel: Redefining U-Thong Architecture from a Modern Perspective

The Pusayapuri Hotel: Redefining U-Thong Architecture from a Modern Perspective

/ Suphan Buri, Thailand /

/ Story: Phattaraphon / English version: Bob Pitakwong /

/ Photographs: Anupong Chaisukkasem /

It was a journey back in time as we visited U-Thong, home of the Pusayapuri Hotel that has become a new landmark in the western part of Suphan Buri Province. The town in itself is rich in history, having been the origin of the Ayutthaya Kingdom dating back more than 2,000 years. It became a district of Suphan Buri during the reign of King Rama V in 2448 B.E. (1905), formerly known as Chorekhe Sam Phan and later renamed U-Thong in 1939.

Pusayapuri Hotel U-Thong

The Pusayapuri is the brainchild of EKAR Architects, a Bangkok-based architectural practice led by Ekaphap Duangkaew. The design thinking process took Ekaphap and his team to U-Thong countless times, during which useful data were collected culminating in a piece of contemporary architecture that’s worth remembering and unique in its own special way.

Sharing his work experience with us, Ekaphap said: “The thinking process that went into designing this hotel came as the result of systematic investigations into the town’s history.

“U-Thong was an ancient state that flourished in this part of peninsular Southeast Asia a very long time ago. Most people seem to have overlooked important facts about it. So, we reached out to connect with the locals and got to know a lot about its history through seeing, hearing and visiting places.”

Pusayapuri Hotel U-Thong

“There are museums containing relics that provide an insight into the history of U-Thong, among them a stone Buddha image carved into cliff face that has become a tourist attraction. It’s the work of local artisans,” Ekaphap continued.

“Other places of interest include ruins of dome-shaped brickwork structures erected as Buddhist shrines in the past. Not many of them remain to be seen today. It’s these historic sites built of bricks that inspired us to try and revive old brick masonry to all its former glory. One of the results of all this is evident in the façade of the Pusayapuri Hotel in U-Thong.”

Pusayapuri Hotel U-Thong

In essence, it’s about building a hotel façade with the power of telling a story about life in U-Thong in former times. Thanks to their understanding of architectural heritage, the architects were able to create a new hotel that stood out from the rest in terms of color, texture and design, and yet no old-fashioned bricks were used.

Pusayapuri Hotel U-Thong

The Pusayapuri is built using innovative materials including glass reinforced concrete, or GRC, that’s lightweight but tough making it an ideal material to use on a variety of structures. It can be dyed to resemble brickwork or concrete surfaces.

Sections can be prefabricated from the factory to enable quick and easy assembly on site. Plus, GRC helps reduce weight on building foundations, saves construction time, and is unaffected by environmental conditions.

Pusayapuri Hotel U-Thong

In the case of the Pusayapuri, the GRC façade sections arrived ready to be installed on site as soon as concrete frame construction was completed. It’s a dry construction system that’s suitable for all buildings or portions of buildings such as balconies with a variety of window bench seating designs. On the outside, they perform a dual function as façades and awnings used to protect against sun and rain.

Pusayapuri Hotel U-Thong

The Pusayapuri’s 56 spacious guest rooms provide a comfortable retreat in a historic town style setting. All of them are designed to create a light and airy atmosphere. Where appropriate, guest rooms are taken out to create a void of space for lighting and ventilation.

Pusayapuri Hotel U-Thong

Pusayapuri Hotel U-Thong

Pusayapuri Hotel U-Thong

The void of space starts from the first floor all the way to the roof top resembling a well-lit staircase when seen from a distance in the nighttime. Together, they ventilate the building by drawing fresh outdoor air inside and force warm air to exit through rooftop vents. The hotel loses some rooms, but it gains comfort from good ventilation. Plus, it’s a feature that adds rustic appeal to the overall design.

Pusayapuri Hotel U-Thong

The Pusayapuri presented both challenges and opportunities even for the experienced designers at EKAR Architects. The team was tasked with creating a hotel with the power of storytelling about the history and architectural heritage of U-Thong, plus turning it into an important landmark in the lives of all concerned.

What makes it original and unique is the hotel façade that bears the imprints of time and a civilization of years gone by — a masterpiece that creates a sense of calm in architecture and indoor thermal comfort. Swing by the Pusayapuri next time you sojourn in this part of Thailand.

Pusayapuri Hotel U-Thong


Architect: EKAR Architects (ekar-architects.com)

Landscape Architect: Top Form Design Studio


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