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Bangkok, looking for its future contemporary icon

Luc Citrinot - 29 August 2012, 09:37

While Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Hong Kong, Shanghai or Tokyo have all a major contemporary icon, Bangkok is still looking for its 21st century symbol. Two projects are now fighting to fill up the gap...

BANGKOK- A famed New York-based delicacy shop attracts every day hordes of employees, Bangkok “hi-so” or wannabe able to pay up to 15 US dollars just to sip a coffee and bite into a piece of cake in its sleek, minimalist café. The shop is only a temporary one and stands where Bangkok’s most expected building is due to come: the MahaNakhon Tower at the corner of Sathorn and Narathiwat Boulevard, near Silom… The 77-floor tower is due to be the highest in Bangkok at 314 meter above ground. It will include offices, apartments, shops, a five-star deluxe Edition Hotel as well as residences, both being run by Ritz Carlton.

The future tower will certainly become Bangkok’s most exciting building once completed with its “pixelised” sculptured façade conceived by internationally celebrated German architect Ole Scheeren, Partner of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). The architecture cabinet is behind the famous CCTV Tower in Beijing.

The project has been delayed so far due to the flooding last year as well as financing. Originally planned to be completed in 2012, it seems that the MahaNakhon will not be accessible before 2014. And due to little activities around the future tower, it might even be further delayed promising a few more years of good business to the café and the shop located on its premises!

Another project in Bangkok will possibly steal the light from MahaNakhorn Tower. Next to Central Chidlom Department Store, the British Embassy sold some of its grounds three years ago to Central Pattana, one of Thailand’s largest real estate and retail companies- which also owns the Centara Hotels & Resorts Group. Central Embassy is the name of the project and its completion date has already been set for December 2013.

The project represents an investment of US$ 300 million. It comprises an iconic tower in the heart of Bangkok including the first Park Hyatt hotel in the Thai capital and the ubiquitous ineluctable shopping mall due to become “Asia’s ultimate shopping destination” according to a press release from Central Pattana.

The 37-storey structure, comprised of 8-storey retail podium (with one basement level) and a 30-storey hotel tower, is scheduled to be completed in late 2013. Central Embassy promised that it will reinvent the meaning of global luxury retail and hospitality not only in Thailand, but also in all of Asia...

Situated on a 144,000 m2 of land, it will be served by two Sky train BTS stations. In terms of merchandise mix, 70,000 m2 will be offered as retail space. The diverse merchandise mix will incorporate world-renowned brands as well as top local brands which are 30 % new-to-market brands. Customers will be transported into a world of unique kind of luxury which will be omnipresent in every detail of the project.

Central Embassy will also be an iconic architectural and interior design both in the retail centre and the Park Hyatt. The glistening façade is paved with aluminium shields and stretches over 400 meters, the longest window facade so far in Thailand. It will be linked by a sky bridge with the adjacent Central Chidlom department store, which will also be renovated. The 30-storey six-star Park Hyatt Bangkok will boast 222 spacious en-suite rooms with Park Hyatt’s signature understated luxury present in every detail. Architecture of the building has been given to Amanda Levete Architects, a UK based cabinet which was made famous for the concept of the department store Selfridges in Birmingham, UK. According to Central Pattana, already 70% of the retail premises have been rented with the group hoping to be at 90% until year-end.

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