02 Sep 2020 • Hospitality
Will the increasing need for public space be met with ‘community malls’ like this venue in Bangkok?
Department of Architecture has designed The Commons’ second multi-service lifestyle hub in Bangkok, envisioning an open-air micro-climate to help users disconnect from busy urban life.
A century ago, there was a rice field planted where a vibrant Bangkok neighbourhood now stands. In its middle was a small train station, part of Thailand’s first railway line, distinguished by a red-gabled roof; it’s how the neighbourhood – Saladaeng, or ‘red pavilion’ in Thai – got its name. Paying homage to this history firm Department of Architecture has designed the second hospitality venue for The Commons, constructing eight small gables and using red corrugated rubber sheets as the primary material. But the strong tie with the area’s heritage is only one way in which the 3,000-sq-m space roots itself in the community.
Department of Architecture completed The Commons’ first location in 2016, also in Bangkok; the company’s ‘community malls’ are envisioned as spaces for living and dining – for giving locals a respite from busy city life. With over 30 per cent of the building’s footprint dedicated to open-air public space, The Commons Saladaeng indeed functions as a micro-climate for locals in the central business district. The team explains that their approach with the project is an example of ‘innovative urban lifestyle architecture’, and that the space’s strength is that it adapts to the needs of the users with respect to the social context and tropical climate.
Combining platforms, seating and planting, the public space – referred to as the Common Ground – connects the ground floor restaurant and coffee bar with the food hall on the second floor and multifunctional hall on the third. It’s centred by an impressive 15-m-high ficus which the architects built around to protect, and powered by an architectural pallet unit system. The pallets are used to transform the venue with modular flat areas based on the different activities or events taking place, whether the occasion be a weekend market, music performance or daytime child’s play. Large industrial fans spread a cool breeze throughout for maximum climatic comfort.
Inspired by the tenets of the sharing economy, Department of Architecture planned ‘The Platform’, an all-purpose space for a varied programme. Yoga and cooking classes, art workshops, movie screenings and more are all able to be held here, as the area is divided by time slots rather than functionality. ‘As opposed to other larger commercial spaces that have separate areas to offer diverse types of services,’ the designers say, ‘this small-scale development needs to answer to the limitations of space while striving to provide a place for multiple activities to meet the needs of the community.’