The Nation



AIA Thailand branches into property with 2 projects on the cards

AIA GROUP IS expanding its business platform in Thailand by investing in property development.

Over the next two years, the group plans two large-scale office and retail complexes in Bangkok's prime areas.

AIA's first and biggest property investment to date is the Bt6-billion environmentally friendly AIA Capital Centre, the only Grade A office complex along Ratchadaphisek Road, which it says will be complete and ready to launch commercially by next June.

"Based on AIA's experience in the life-insurance industry in Thailand for more than 75 years, we have strong confidence in the country's potential, especially in its future economic growth and development," said Anucha Laokwansatit, general manager and chief investment officer of AIA Thailand,

He said the investment in the AIA Capital Centre marked a significant step in strengthening the foundation for the firm's growth while ensuring a stable future, but added: "Although we are currently extending ourselves into property development, life insurance will remain our core business.

"Our group decided to invest in this project because we see the solid potential of this location, which we believe will become Thailand's next business centre for two crucial reasons: its location adjacent to the new Stock Exchange of Thailand, which makes the environment resemble Wall Street in the US, and its proximity to the underground mass-transit system. These factors strengthen our belief that this location will become a prime financial area."

Standing on nearly 10 rai (1.6 hectares), AIA Capital Centre is a 34-storey building that will offer 54,000 square metres of Grade A office space, with each storey ranging between 1,700sqm and 1,800sqm, and an additional 5,000sqm of retail space. The entire complex with a total construction area exceeding 100,000sqm will include banks, restaurants, cafes, a fitness centre and convenience stores.

"AIA Capital Centre features cutting-edge green design because AIA intends to make this office complex visually outstanding, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly as much as possible," Anucha said.

"Our building design incorporates many types of green spaces that generate positive health and emotional benefits to people working in the building and living in the local community, so we welcome everyone to use our green areas for recreational purposes and encourage the public to view our project as a new urban park. With ample space, the building is also ideal for hosting various public activities."

The designers of the complex have included numerous large green spaces such as the open-air roof of the parking building and the gardens above the retail building. Energy-efficient systems are incorporated into the design. The simple, modern-looking construction materials are said to be durable and environmentally friendly, easy to clean and energy conserving. The exterior curtain wall system employs three layers of laminated low-emissivity glass to protect the building from the sun's heat and insulate against sound. Designed to conform to global environmental standards set by the world-renowned US environmental design institution LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the project includes qualities that make it unlike other buildings along Ratchadaphisek Road, AIA says.

One of the most outstanding points of the AIA Capital Centre is the height and airiness of every space, from the stylish lobby with a 9-metre-high ceiling to 3-metre ceiling heights in its office spaces. The latter is the highest ceiling found in any office space in Bangkok (commercial buildings' average ceiling heights range between 2.75 and 2.9 metres), and column-free office spaces enable design flexibility.

Anucha said transport would be highly convenient for both the tenants and their employees, as only 50 metres from the MRT's Thailand Cultural Centre Station.

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