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Thailand’s Tallest Tower Debuts

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

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Do not adjust your screen: Thailand’s tallest building really does look like it’s missing a few pixels, but that’s the point.

MahaNakhon, a 77-story tower overlooking Bangkok, is notable not just for its size, but for its unique facade, designed by German architect Ole Schereen. Surrounding the building’s exterior is a ribbon effect of “pixels” that appear to have been taken out of the tower.

Developers recently celebrated the grand opening. MahaNakhon means "great metropolis."

Functional Pixels

The building, which houses a mix of upscale retail space, residential and hotel rooms, will eventually have an observatory on top for checking out the views from 314 meters (1,030 feet) in the air. The plans for the tower were unveiled in 2009, and according to developer Pace Development Corporation, construction began in 2011.

MahaNakhon under construction
© iStock.com / placebo365

MahaNakhon, a 77-story tower opened last week in Bangkok, is notable not just for its size, but for its unique facade. (Shown here under construction, 2016.)

The “pixels” in the building’s facade not only serve to make the tower look like a game of Tetris; according to the architect, the missing blocks also serve a functional purpose.

The pixelation “generates a set of specific features—projecting glass skyboxes with sweeping views and generous indoor/outdoor spaces—uncommon to high-rise living, but well-suited to the tropical climate of Bangkok,” the firm, Büro Ole Schereen, explains. “The pixels have been designed to maximize unobstructed panoramas and offers rare birds-eye views of the city and Chaophraya River.”

The building’s grand opening included a “night light show” Aug. 29 in which the pixel ribbon was lit up in contrast with the rest of the building, creating an arresting image.

Architect Arguments

The unveiling didn’t come without some controversy, though: The Beijing Post reported Thursday (Sept. 1) that some in Thailand accused Pace Development and architect Schereen of violating Thai laws designed to reserve architecture jobs for Thai nationals.

MahaNakhon at grand opening
© iStock.com / beer5020

The building’s grand opening included a “night light show” in which the pixel ribbon was lit up in contrast with the rest of the building, creating an arresting image.

Schereen’s firm has an office in Bangkok and Schereen is reportedly part of a company that does hold a license to practice in Thailand, but critics say the German-born architect is not properly permitted to work in the country.

MahaNakhon surpassed Baiyoke Tower II as Thailand’s tallest building; that tower stands at 304 meters without its antenna, and 309 with.


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Building facades; Commercial Construction; Design

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