by Pallavi MehraSep 19, 2022
Most Asian cities are a conglomeration of indigenous urban settings, cultural traditions, and ecological character. However, among the ongoing sprints of urbanisation in many parts of the world, this trajectory often clashes with that of modern urban practices, and the public and architectural interventions they undertake. This juxtaposition births a rather activated cityscape, comprising a number of locally organised urban pockets. Bangkok is one such developing city displaying a course of contrasts, with a hint or potential of catalysis at every junction, alley, and turn. As the ripples of urban stratification move into the Thai capital, the city stands witness to the creation of several high-rises that seem to be in a state of constant tussle with localised narratives and vernacular construction. This tussle and constant interaction of sorts is what has come to frame the very dynamic urban character of several South Asian cities and metropoli. Adding to the dialogue, Milan-based ACPV Architects have unveiled a 20,000 sq.m. residential high-rise in the vibrant and bustling context of Sukhumvit, rooted in the Italian architects' approach of 'building-in-the-city’.
In the aforementioned conversation of introducing a luxury residential high-rise amidst the mixed context of Bangkok, that has quite recently seen a more vertically oriented skyline, Sukhumvit THIRTY-EIGHT approaches the contrast in a radical manner. While the structure may appear as a visibly foreign entity with respect to the aboriginal context, it adapts to be a beacon of the city’s future development. Designed to mirror the mixed character of the city’s urban environment, the residential high-rise reflects Bangkok’s contemporary and cosmopolitan side, both conceptually and literally, considered to be well-represented in the streets of Sukhumvit.
The silhouette of the high-rise, which will house 216 new residential units, is an archetype of geometric design in skyscrapers. The sculpturally stacked volumes shape into a modern elaboration of steel framed curtain walls. While the form progresses from an iterative elimination of volumes from a simple cuboid shape, the façade dominates to narrate the identity of the building. In continuity with establishing familiarity with Thong Lo's neighbourhood, the glass façade naturally acts as a mirror to what stands in front of it, framing the context in strata and juxtaposed layers, as opposed to a usual, planar elevation. Along with that, the façade alternates between hues of blue and silver in accordance with the progression of the day and its lighting. This kinetic appeal makes the structure stand out from within its urban context that has borne testament to the passage of time with its many developments.
As much as Sukhumvit THIRTY-EIGHT seems to contradict with the indigenous layers of the city, it also rises to a vertical proportion that attempts to portray a picturesque soliloquy of Bangkok’s fast-paced development against its tangible folklores. In the architects’ mention of being inspired by the masterful craftsmanship of Italian Renaissance sculptures, the structure may seem visually aloof from the naturalism, but proves to be exceptionally aligned in perspectives, proportions, and geometry. Through the project, lead architects Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel attempt to create a new definition of luxury that is based on a bricolage of experiences. Emphasising the potential of the façade in interacting with the city through far-reaching panoramic views, the luxury residential high-rise forms niches of private living in an ever evolving urban scenario.
The tower's modular mass is a preface to the language of contemporary architecture followed holistically in the interior spaces and the material palette they employ. The entrance path leads from a 500 sq.m. outdoor garden on the ground floor to the circulation nodes of the structure. Composing one-bedroom to large 85 sq.m. two-bedroom apartments, the tower directs much of its attention to creating an indoor-oriented experience for its residents too. In a locus of densely populated areas where even windows are considered a luxury, the tower exalts its exclusivity with the potential to install expansive corner windows. In addition to the apartments, the tower also features a two-storeyed penthouse at the top.
Sara Busnelli, ACPV Architects' partner-in-charge of the project in an official press release, states that the high-rise is designed to “reproduce the complexity of the urban environment, where residents and guest can easily access state-of-the-art services.” Sukhumvit THIRTY-EIGHT thus emerges as the latest addition to the world-renowned architecture and design practice's extensive experience in designing residential high-rise developments in Southeast Asia. Along with their intricate attention to user experience, the use of BIM digital tools enables a real-time collaboration among multiple consultants, thereby ensuring efficient management of the building throughout its life cycle.
(Text by Sunena V Maju, intern at STIRworld)