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Reimagining the place and placelessness: heritage symbolism and hospitality architectural designs

Stephen T. F. Poon ()
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Stephen T. F. Poon: Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation

Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 2019, vol. 15, issue 4, 288-296

Abstract: Abstract Architectural vernacularism, place and placelessness are concepts that have major influences on hospitality architecture design in Asia. The growth of the global travel economy has brought attention to issues of heritage authenticity of hospitality architecture, which relates to the branding of hotels and resorts through tourism marketing and promotion. Place and placelessness continue to challenge architects as the commercialisation of heritage and culture through hospitality design affects attitudinal response and the experiences they shape, mediate and construct. Two contrasting models are presented in this paper, to discuss placelessness in the context of how tropical hospitality architecture negotiates heritage and cultural symbols. The aim is to review and analyse the contrasting applications of principles of place and placelessness in the architectural approaches of Twitee Teparkum (Thailand) and Geoffrey Bawa (Sri Lanka). Findings distinguish between the two contrasting architectural responses, and how assimilation of tropical natural elements and climatic conditions evokes the notion of place. While similarities exist between Thai and Sinhalese hospitality design concepts in terms of symbolic inspirations from geographical and environmental conditions, fundamental differences are seen in cultural adaptation. This suggests the aesthetics of tropical hospitality architecture lean towards blended response, heritage elements are assimilated into modern spatial designs of hotels and resorts for pragmatic functionality, which subverts the unique sense of place. In conclusion, this paper advances the notion that the reduction of cultural heritage expressions in modern hospitality designs has resulted in designs of placelessness. Architects are urged to recognise heritage symbolism and vernacular traditions, by conscientiously and respectfully acknowledging place meanings before constructing or incorporating them into place branding of hospitality architecture designs.

Keywords: Hospitality architecture; Place; Placelessness; Vernacularism; Place branding (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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