Gaysorn Tower completes the venerable mall’s metamorphosis into an urban magnet
THE 30-STOREY Gaysorn Tower is now complete in downtown Bangkok, adding more office and retail space to the venerable mall of the same name. Together they form an “urban vertical village”.
The Gaysorn mall at the Ratchaprasong intersection was fully renovated recently and re-branded as a top-flight shopping and culinary destination.
Inspired by the traditional sabai garment, the facade is gold-coloured pleated aluminium.
Now it’s part of Gaysorn Village, the Bt3.5-billion result of five years’ work. Owner Gaysorn Property Co says it helps provide seamless connectivity for the downtown community.
Gaysorn was long perceived as a high-end mall specialising in luxury brands. Its opulence attracted foreign tourists and well-off urbanites, but a lot of prospective shoppers were left out. That’s about to change.
The glue that literally binds the area’s revitalisation is the just-opened Ratchaprasong elevated walkway, which connects 18 separate buildings. As many as 90,000 people a day are expected to use the walkway to get between the Prathunam area and Chidlom – and that takes them through Gaysorn Village.
The entrance to Gaysorn Village off the Ratchaprasong Walk is user-friendly – extra wide and with sloped ramps.
Gaysorn Property chairman Charn Srivikorn is touting a “Work-Live-Play-Grow” concept.
“We wanted to move away from the traditional compartmental, cubical design and put the focus fully on people and the community,” he says. “We call this an ‘urban vertical village’, a place where people can share and interact, have fun and be creative.”
Wood predominates throughout the interior, offering a warm welcome. The open-plan design is meant to be dynamic and flexible as well as connective. There is much less to obstruct movement and nothing you encounter seems dull – quite the opposite.
Wood predominates in the interior, creating a warm and relaxing ambience.
“The key concept is ‘Urban Resort’,” says Phil Kim of Hong-Kong based planning firm Jerde Partnership. “People feel relaxed and keen to socialise.
“In the eyes of outsiders like me, Thailand is very hospitable and friendly, so we’ve tried to incorporate that welcoming warmth in the ambience here, and the craftsmanship you see adds to that.”
The facade of Gaysorn Village is pleated aluminium the shade of champagne gold. It’s meant to resemble a traditional sabai – the woman’s wrap-around shawl – with perforations in the metal panels forming motifs found in classical Thai architecture.
The metal panels that provide shade are perforated to form motifs seen in traditional Thai architecture.
The perforations also double as tiny windows, affording glimpses inside and out. Light passing through the holes creates an intriguing effect as well.
Central to the project is the bridge connecting the mall and Gaysorn Tower. Airy, bright and built with oak, it’s an upright 20-foot-tall “cocoon” as if woven by a silkworm on its way to becoming a handsome moth. Hinting at birth, metamorphosis and creativity, the bridge is adorned with an art installation of fluttering butterflies.
A 20-foot-tall, cocoon-like bridge connecting Gaysorn Tower with the long-established mall is complemented with an art installation of fluttering butterflies.
“We’ve used a lot of wood to evoke an environment of Thai craftsmanship and heritage, rather than strongly emphasising glass, marble, stone and all things white,” says William Lim of architecture-and-design firm CL3, also based in Hong Kong. Its portfolio includes the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
Wood gets that characteristic Thai touch in the overall design, evoking skilled craftsmanship.
“This design wouldn’t work in Tokyo or New York. It’s like site-specific art – relevant to the locality. Bangkok is developing so fast and all the shopping malls look very similar, so they lose a lot in character. That’s why I wanted to bring back Thai culture and heritage.”
Porous design allows for seamless connectivity among floors.
The office space is designed for energy and people efficiency and meets the needs of those who seek a balance between their professional and private lives.
Design firm Tadah Collaboration developed 400 square metres on the 14th floor to demonstrate what was possible. The offices since established elsewhere in the tower are rapidly filling up.
Offices in Gaysorn Tower shun the typical cubicle layout and offer various work settings.
They’re devoid of cubicles and completely wrapped in windows offering stunning city views. Resolutely minimalist, they have no interior columns, the ceiling is quite high and there’s wood everywhere. The only partitioning takes the form of clear glass panels fitted with thin vertical blinds
“Cities need more creative spaces where people can meet, collaborate and exchange ideas,” says Tadah co-founder Pholkrit Sangthong.
“The concept of an activity-based workplace utilises a multitude of different work settings instead of those isolating cubicles. This growing trend can encourage connectivity, which leads to high performance and efficiency. Creativity doesn’t need to happen at a desk.”
It’s easy to relax and concentrate in the Focus Space of an office, a semi-enclosed area in front of a large window.
Folks employed in these offices can choose from a variety of workspaces – a comfy sofa, a long table, a standing desk or a semi-enclosed carrel. A booth with a proper door affords more privacy if needed.
Gaysorn Property’s Charn says about 85 per cent of the office space in the tower is already occupied. Among the tenants are social networks Facebook and Line, mobile-marketing agency McFiva, and asset-management company Yuanta.
Business continues in the Urban Resort on the 19th and 20th floors, but there’s also ample room for leisure. The outdoor sky garden is a communal space to relax, consult or brainstorm. There’s a glass-wrapped multifunction room called the Crystal Box offering a 270-degree city panorama.
The outdoor sky garden is ideal for business meetings and leisurely chats alike.
Gaysorn Property managing director Fafuen Temboonkiat points out that there’s another “urban retreat” occupying the 10th to 12th floors.
“People work hard, so they also play hard,” he says. “This area has beauty, health, wellness and fitness centres. The Panpuri Spa with its one-of-a-kind onsen facilities will take up a whole floor on its own.”
Where best to eat in this vertical village? Reviews will be forthcoming, but the temptations thus far include Thailand’s first branch of Burger & Lobster and the delightful baked items at an Eric Kayser outlet (don’t miss the croissants).
The adjacent mall has plenty more dining options, of course, and bars and cafes.
Eric Kayser is known for its croissants.
Gaysorn Village executive director Korakot Srivikorn says the approach to retail, food and lifestyle follows a “first and only” concept.
“We try to provide style-centric experiences that people can’t get from e-commerce,” she says. “The dining and drinking venues have been selected for their reputations and their one-of-a-kind offerings.
Riedel Wine Bar and Cellar
“Riedel Wine Bar and Cellar, for example, includes its first showroom of Riedel crystal glassware from Germany and more than 200 different state-of-the-art wine dispensers that ensure a comprehensive tasting experience. They also have delicious Mediterranean-style tapas!”
Also new to Bangkok in the Gaysorn complex are the first flagship stores of skincare brand Erb and Boyy Bag, and architect Duangrit Bunnag’s Lonely Two-legged Creature, which is part chic bar and part street-fashion boutique.