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Six Brutalist Beauties in Asia


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Words Vidula KotianDate 19 May 2023

In the postwar period, when materials like steel were hard to come by, a new material emerged as the dominant player in architecture, namely raw concrete. Le Corbusier said of béton brut: “I have decided to make beauty by contrast. I will find its complement and establish a play between crudity and finesse, between the dull and the intense, between precision and accident.”

Indeed, the Brutalist architecture that emerged during this time strongly divided people into the love and hate camps, but the style’s influence was far reaching and continues to this day. Reinforced concrete and the barebone aesthetics of brutalism rarely come to mind when thinking of Asian architecture; however, the movement is very much part of the pantheon there, albeit rooted in local tradition. We’ve rounded up six beton beauties in Southeast Asia to give you a taste.

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Casa de La Flora The minimalist interiors are augmented by monochromatic schemes

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Setouchi Retreat by Onko Chishin Ando’s “smooth-as-silk” concrete walls

Master Masonry

Pattaya, Thailand

A study in craftsmanship, Mason, as its name implies, is an homage to the cultural roots of its Na Jomtien location in Pattaya, and especially the stone carvers of the Ang Sila community. VaSlab’s architecture, therefore, ponders the treatment of form by carving and crafting the structure in a way that echoes the surrounding landscape. Granite, which abounds in this area, is found throughout the hotel, from walls and furniture to bathroom fixtures and decorative objects.

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Mason Each villa boasts a private pool

“I love bare concrete walls as they hide nothing and reveal the truth of the material. I especially like the imperfections as they also remind me of humanity’s faults.”

Vasu Virajsilp, principle architect of VaSLab

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A mix Transitional space between outdoor and semi-outdoor

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Sculptural elements Refer to the theme of masonry throughout

Zen Brutalism

Matsuyama, Japan

The king of concrete, Tadao Ando is renowned for his pristine concrete surfaces. Often flooded with natural light, they have earned him many prestigious awards, including the Pritzker Prize. Setouchi Retreat by Onko Chishin beautifully personifies the Japanese architect’s idiosyncratic creative spirit. This masterwork draws light and air into vast spaces, evoking the infinity of traditional Zen poetics. Situated in the verdant Matsuyama area of Japan, overlooking the Seto Inland Sea, the structure was initially built 20 years ago as a private guesthouse. The residence was then converted into a small modern art museum before reopening as Setouchi Retreat by Onko Chishin—all under Ando’s supervision.

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“I don’t believe architecture has to speak too much. It should remain silent and let nature in the guise of sunlight and wind.”

Tadao Ando

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Tadao Ando masterpiece Setouchi rises up like a dreamscape from the coastal vegetation on Japan’s smallest island, Shikoku

Concrete Hideout

Incheon, South Korea

With a focus on being a hideout for travelers, Nest Hotel’s architecture centers on nature. Architecture and design practice JOH & Company came up with a rather unusual nest-like concept for the hotel where the individual layout for the rooms resulted in a “pile-up” design dictating the exterior’s appearance. The high-ceilinged lobby is an impressive showcase for the hotel’s bold style—exposed concrete, waffle ceiling, and glass walls form the perfect stage for the beauty outside.

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Nest Hotel Glass walls form the perfect stage for the beauty outside

“Structural truth at all costs war their motto and all buildings which attempted to conceal the true nature of their construction, or to disguise the materials in which they were carried out, stood convicted of acting a lie.”

Osbert Lancaster on Brutalism

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Nest Hotel Diagonally placed windows allow for maximum daylight

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Open-air bath The large blocks of stone creates a tranquil mood

Angular Aesthetics

Phang Nga, Thailand

On an unspoiled stretch of the Andaman Sea coastline in southern Thailand, Casa de La Flora’s 36 slate-grey cube villas seem to blossom from the ground and reach for the daylight and the sea. With its linear planes evocative of a Le Corbusier edifice, Casa de La Flora is a vision of Brutalism. Most villas are buttressed by topiary conceived by landscape designers T.R.O.P. An integral ingredient to VaSLab’s aesthetic formula, concrete is present throughout. Angular but never piercing, each villa obscures any barrier between guests and their surroundings.

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Casa de La Flora The wellness area is serene in concrete

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Boxed out Each villa’s oversized windows open out to the sea

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Cubic form Deviated walls and tilted roofs characterize Casa de la Flora’s villas

Raw Canvas

Kyoto, Japan

Carved from a new build designed by Seiichiro Takeuchi, a Kyoto-based architect who worked with architecture luminary Tadao Ando for a decade, Node Kyoto’s carefully plotted layout and interiors perfectly complement its in-house art concept. Takeuchi’s primary challenge was the long, narrow, rectangular plot of land on which the hotel was to be built, as well as meeting the requirements of Kyoto’s strict building regulations, enforced to protect the historic city’s landscape. The result is a soothing five-storey reinforced concrete and glass building that quiets the mind as one transitions from the city’s busy streets to the hotel’s provocative interior and art.

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Node Kyoto The hotel’s canvas of gray is balanced by a regal design scheme

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Long and narrow The plot encouraged a creative building design

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A gray masterpiece The architect also designed furniture and lighting

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An industrial vibe A blank canvas for Node’s abundant artwork

Featured Hotels


Casa de La Flora

Phang Nga, Thailand

The Naka Phuket

Phuket, Thailand
T Mason Pattaya Thailand


Pattaya, Thailand
T Nest Hotel Incheron South Korea

Nest Hotel

Incheon, South Korea
T Node Hotel Kyoto Japan

Node Kyoto

Kyoto, Japan

Featured Hotels


Casa de La Flora

Thailand, Phang Nga

The Naka Phuket

Thailand, Phuket
T Mason Pattaya Thailand


Thailand, Pattaya
T Nest Hotel Incheron South Korea

Nest Hotel

South Korea, Incheon
T Node Hotel Kyoto Japan

Node Kyoto

Japan, Kyoto
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