Central Embassy
Central Embassy, located on Bangkok’s primary commercial artery Ploen Chit Road, will be a new architectural landmark for the city and region. The 1.5m sq ft project will occupy the former gardens of the British Embassy in Nai Lert Park, and will consist of a 7-storey retail podium and a 30-storey 6-star hotel tower. The design merges the distinct features of a podium and tower into a sinuous and continuously twisting coil. The form wraps around two vertical light wells in the retail podium and at the same time encloses and exposes a series of exterior courtyards and roof gardens for the hotel. Internal spaces break apart to reveal stepped terraces and vertical gardens. Drawing on motifs and patterns found in traditional Thai architecture, the facade of the building is composed of a dynamic and fluid three-dimensional array of ceramic tiles. Changes in gradient, rotation and spacing break the long spans of continuous frontage into a rich pattern. On regarding the facade, this design element will draw attention to the building’s coiling form and give varied impressions of the depth, shape and colour of its skin with each step taken. Conceived with the intention of reinterpreting Thai heritage and culture in a modern context, the project is a unique opportunity to merge traditional craftsmanship with contemporary digital design to produce a stunning, iconic landmark for the city of Bangkok. DESIGN CONCEPT The advent of digital technologies in the design world as both a design and fabrication tool has given us great liberties in form-making. This newfound freedom comes with great responsibility, as the seductive quality of empty form will never replace the integrity and ingenuity of a carefully developed concept. Recent advances in parametric modelling and digital fabrication have enabled us to articulate concepts with greater dexterity and increased accuracy by giving us the ability to test, manipulate, and refine ideas through an iterative process of “digital craftsmanship`. This technology has opened the door to challenge conventional notions of space and to explore form in unique and dynamic ways. As a means of addressing the inherent nature of the construction climate of Thailand, the project attempts to capitalize on the surplus of manual labour available and simultaneously reduce the premium of construction technology required for the assembly of the building. This is an inclusive architecture that integrates tradition and modernity, digital technology and craftsmanship. By embracing advanced technology and concepts as well as acknowledging local heritage and culture, Central Embassy is an articulation of the search for a perceptive and holistic contemporary architectural language. It is a design that is demonstrative of its time but rooted in Thai culture and heritage. Conventional solutions for mixed-use urban developments have resulted in a very familiar typology of the podium and plinth configuration. This project attempts to break away from that convention by merging the two distinctly separate programs with a looping form. Expressed as a series of ribbons which wrap the retail plinth, they rise from podium to tower in a single twisting movement. This device gives distinction to the public and private aspects of the hotel and provides lateral stability to the structure of the tower. The introverted nature of large-scale retail developments dictates that large expanses of exterior façade are opaque and inward facing. These continuous runs of blank wall are taken as an opportunity to provoke visual interaction with the façade through the application of an innovative and bespoke ceramic tile façade system. The intentions of this façade are to create a fluid and highly intricate pattern which will engage viewers and lead their eyes along the wrapping ribbons of the building mass. The resulting dynamic moiré pattern of the tiles produces a stunning visual effect which changes with each step. The internal retail spaces are defined by a series of pedestrian canyons which are carved from the interior. As the walls of the canyon pull apart, the floor slabs are articulated as an elastic network of trajectories and perforations linking shopping destinations, sight lines, and natural light in a non-linear experience. FACT SHEET PROGRAM: Mixed-use retail, entertainment, and hotel complex CLIENT: Central Retail Corporation LTD ARCHITECT: Amanda Levete Architects DIRECTOR: Amanda Levete PROJECT DIRECTOR: Alvin Huang PROJECT TEAM: Peter Feldmann, Alice Dietsch, Tanya Rainsley, Chris Geneste, Jakob Pryzblo, Cyril Manyara, Claudia White, Alex Bulygin, Joy Natapa Sriyuksiri, Naoki Kotaka CONSULTANTS: Executive Architect : Pi Design [Bangkok] Landscape Architect: GrossMax Structural Engineers: Scott Wilson [Bangkok] Service Engineers: MITR [Bangkok] Building Physics: Scott Wilson Quantity Surveyor: Davis Langdon Seah [Bangkok] Lighting: Isometrix Environmental: Graphic Thought Facility AREA: 145,000 m2 TOTAL 35,000 m2 Hotel 70,000 m2 Retail & Entertainment 40,000 m2 Parking Start on site 2010 Completion 2013


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