The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) released renderings today of their forthcoming MahaNakhon tower and plaza in Bangkok, Thailand, with design led by OMA partner Ole Scheeren, head of the firm’s Beijing office. The 1.6 million-square-foot, $515 million complex plans to include 200 apartments, a 150-room “Bangkok Edition” hotel operated by Marriott Group International with hotelier Ian Schrager, and mixed-use public and commercial space. Construction begins later this year with an intended completion in late 2012.
The centerpiece of MahaNakhon is an elaborately designed 77-story tower. At a planned 1,017 feet, it will be the tallest structure in Bangkok. A spiraling incision of “architectural pixels” travels up the building, interrupting the curtain wall to reveal a series of terraces for larger units and shared spaces. This frenetic expression, according to Scheeren, came out of the psyche of Bangkok itself, which he describes as “the most intense and chaotic” of Southeast Asian cities. Throughout the “pixels,” the tower’s conventional glass curtain wall is disintegrated into cubes that will feature a variety of vegetation circling up the building, reflecting what Scheeren calls “the constant struggle between civilization and nature” in the tropical city.
Another primary feature is the fully operable “bi-fold balcony window” that allows the glazed wall to open completely in the building’s smaller units. Scheeren says that this strategy grew out of the fluidity of indoor and outdoor space in Bangkok’s tropical climate. Instead of a separate outdoor terrace—which would have made smaller units much more expensive—Scheeren says the idea was that “suddenly you can open your whole living room facade in to a balcony.”
At ground level, the design attempts to reinvent the tower podium by creating a “valley” between two series of terraces—one at the bottom of the tower and the second as part of an adjacent structure called the “Cube”—which together frame a public square with restaurants, cafés, and other commercial space, creating a connection to the street and surrounding city. This sense is tied into the name of the tower itself, according to Scheeren: “The full name of Bangkok in Thai is Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, which means ‘Bangkok Great Metropolis’—naming the tower MahaNakhon expresses the ambition of the project to be a metropolitan center for the city.”