March 14, 2014 00:00
By Patcharee Luenguthai
AP (Thailand)'s JV with Mitsubishi Estate Group results in three innovative Bangkok condo projects set for launch in May
Amidst the dynamic growth of mega-cities, and the changes in urban lifestyle that go with it, it is challenging for architects and interior designers to create truly innovative architectural design – especially in regard to the principle of space optimisation.
Through an in-depth collaborative partnership between AP (Thailand)’s product design team and designers from Mitsubishi Jisho Sekkei, a professional firm of architects affiliated with Mitsubishi Estate Group (MEC), home-buyers can experience a new sense of their joint design innovations in three condominium projects: the RHYTHM Sukhumvit 36-38, the RHYTHM Asoke II and the Aspire Ratchada-Wongsawang.
The three projects will be launched simultaneously in mid-May.
AP (Thailand) chief executive officer Anuphong Assavabhokin said the RHYTHM Asoke II would showcase a significant application, blending Japanese design philosophy into Thais’ living behaviour.
MEC designers have teamed up with AP’s design team to harness strategic project-implementation capabilities at every step of development, from the initial concept onwards.
Meanwhile, MEC’s professional architects have consulted on the other two projects, offering comments and advice on design and quality-control systems.
“MEC pays much attention to space planning, where every inch matters, so the layout allocation of the rooms will a key feature of space planning. In a limited space, it’s a big challenge for us to create space optimisation and meet lifestyle needs,” said Anuphong.
In general, most of the room layouts in Japan clearly separate public space and private space. One difference is that the Japanese prefer a restroom completely outside a bedroom, while Thais need it to be inside the general bedroom area, that is, en suite.
Based on the principles of space optimisation, traditional Japanese design is outstanding in terms of its spirit of simplicity. It is the harmony of creativity and tradition to feature the simplicity of form and utilisation harmonised with nature.
In addition, the concept of engawa – inside out, outside in – has been applied for the three projects. This is a traditional Japanese home-style concept that connects external and internal areas, enabling dwellers to feel comfortable with spaciousness and nature through the interior and landscape architectural designs.
Meanwhile, kohji and shoji – grid and line – is another unique Japanese technique used for the design of both structural architecture and home-interior decor.
Anuphong acknowledged that due to its conservative style, AP had taken 18 months to negotiate the formation of the MEC Thailand Investment joint venture with Mitsubishi Estate Asia and Mitsubishi Jisho Residence, both of which are wholly owned subsidiaries of MEC.
“We needed to form a partnership with MEC with the aim of benefiting from its know-how, construction process and quality-control standard. This will help lift our construction standard and work consistency, because the Japanese company has a very strong project-management system. MEC sets a process and template as a guideline for working with its contractors,” he said.
This is a crucial step for AP in terms of boosting the potential of the organisation as well as the knowledge and abilities of its staff, he added.
AP has sent staff on exchange-training programmes at MEC in Japan, enabling them to work more effectively in all aspects of the company’s operations, from construction and product quality control through to the sales system.
This enables them to apply the knowledge gained to further raise the company’s operations in line with international standards, said the CEO.
Development for a sustainable community
Hirotaka Sugiyama, MEC’s chief executive officer, said his company’s project development was based on the principle of “development for a sustainable community”, which is also its Thai partner’s guiding principle.
By combining AP’s know-how in the Thai market and MEC’s Marunouchi-district development know-how built up over the past 100 years, the company is certain that the joint venture will be able to create brand-new values and be very successful in this competitive Thai market, he said.
“In the future, beyond the condominium projects, we are looking for the opportunity to develop other types of property such as shopping centres, office buildings and logistics in Thailand,” he added.
MEC is one of the top three comprehensive real-estate developers in Japan, operating a spectrum of businesses in diverse fields related to real estate, which encompasses group members that seamlessly cover businesses ranging from development to leasing and property management.
The company continues to be a major player in the urban development of the Marunouchi district in central Tokyo. For more than 120 years, the group has been operating in the district, which has grown into Japan’s leading business centre and has long served as a gateway to Japan for interests from abroad.
Today, the group owns more than 30 office buildings, representing 30 per cent of the district’s office real estate. A third-phase development project is under way, and is scheduled for completion in 2019.
The remarkable design concepts in the district include the regeneration of historical buildings and space, while maintaining the form of the original structures. For example, the original headquarters of Mitsubishi Bank will be redeveloped into a museum, and the banking hall into a restaurant.
The classical-style facade and human scale of the historical building appeals to the sense of place among surrounding contemporary buildings.
Marunouchi’s Naka-dori Street was originally lined with bank branches, only occupied by businessmen and very deserted after business hours and at weekends. But now, it has been transformed into a wider and landscaped pedestrian street lined by retail outlets and restaurants.
Naka-dori is an important axis in the area, connecting with various urban facilities. The upgrade project of the boulevard aims to express “urban living room” by creating a vibrant, safe and comfortable pedestrian space.
As a result of sophisticated design that features the same natural stone on both the road and pavements, Naka-dori has managed to achieve a restful, functional and good-looking space – and one that has been recognised as a famous shopping area where workers and families can enjoy their time.
The great underground pedestrian networks in Marunouchi are another attractive feature of the district, connecting stations and buildings.
They contribute to a smooth and safe flow of people in the busy central business district, while the design of the space takes both function and amenities fully into account.