Alila Villas Koh Russey


The design brief called for an Alila resort that would be constructed in three phases, the latter two for the addition of villas being depending on market sentiments. Hence the recently completed phase 1 has the facilities of a full resort, including full common facilities. It comprises 63 keys consisting of villas and pavilion suites, spa, gym, two restaurants, bar, arrival reception and common pool and beachfront facilities.

Located on an island off the south-west coast of Cambodia at the Koh Rong archipelago, it is accessible by boat. The dominant topography of Koh Russey comprises two hill mounds framing a valley that is strategically located in the middle of the site. The master plan focuses the arrival reception on this flat valley land, positioned to frame the sea and horizon. To reach the arrival reception, one has to pass through a forest trail from the jetty. The sudden view of the open sea is an exhilarating change of scale and a dramatic arrival.

The facilities were designed to integrate seamlessly with the land and enjoy sea views. They are non-imposing in scale, merging with the foliage. The villas and pavilions are sited on gradually sloping land of the hill mounds to achieve full views of the sea. There was minimal modification of the existing topography.

The Cambodian krama has inspired much of the geometry in the design. The arrival reception roof profile was conceptualised off simple grids interpreting the checked patterns of the krama. Timber strips form a dramatic cavern effect, creating a poetic silhouette against the sky. This grid is used right through the property – in all the villas and pavilion suites as well as the public spaces.

Rain and surface run-off water are collected and recycled for other uses. Solar panels line the roofs to reduce dependence on electricity from generators. Public spaces are generally naturally ventilated. Wide overhangs reduce heat on walls and allow natural ventilation. Finishes employ largely local materials with arts and crafts from all over Cambodia.

Furniture: Custom (STUDIOGOTO). Finishes: Jim Thompson, Sunbrella. Fittings & Fixtures: Bravat, American Standard, Legrand.

Photography: Robert Kleiner Photography