A Whole New Gaysorn
Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter in 1789 that “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”. But in Thailand, you might as well add another certainty: new malls. Despite a fickle economy, the country will still see more than its fair share of retail outlets opening up this year.
Interestingly, one of Asia’s leading architecture and design firms, CL3, whose projects include the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and Hotel Icon and East Hotel in Hong Kong, will be working to erect a new retail space, Gaysorn Village, and its office tower, Gaysorn Tower, linked to the original Gaysorn luxury mall.
The new phase is expected to rejuvenate the development, consisting of a new 5,500m² mall, to be opened in the first half of 2017, and a 30-storey office tower, to be launched later in the year.
It’s a tough job knowing full well that the mall will be regularly void of visitors, but William Lim, founder and managing director of CL3, is hoping his Thai-craftsmanship-inspired design will create a new dynamic, drawing in more creative types.
“Gaysorn used to be a much-visited mall,” said William Lim through a Skype call from Hong Kong. “I remember visiting Gaysorn, and there was an entire floor of Thai crafts and products. And I think slowly, other, much bigger malls came up. So slowly people stopped going.”
He of course is looking to change that. CL3, which specialises in hospitality design, is known for creating personality unique to each space.
“Although [Gaysorn Village] is not a hotel, our thinking is that hotel design can be applied to other interior environments, like office and retail design,” said Lim. “The identity we want to create is artisanal — that it’s an environment that promotes craftsmanship. The creativity of the Thai people will come through in the whole design, and will also hopefully bring in office tenants interested in Thai creativity, workmanship and design.”
Impressed by how Thai design manages to blend traditional craftsmanship and apply it to contemporary designs, Lim’s design of Gaysorn Village focuses on using one of the most traditional materials in Thai architecture.
“We’re using a lot of teak wood,” he said, “as opposed to a lot of shopping malls, which are created with white, neutral designs. Maybe they want to give them a very international look, but I find that those malls have no personality. It all starts to look the same, whereas we feel that a mall needs to have a strong identity.”
With wood as its main material, the mall is set to have a warmer, more sophisticated feel than its whitewashed counterparts. It will be open, with the four levels boasting a porous design so guests can see all the different floors and activities wherever they stand, and the 30-storey office tower, with a club on the 19th and 20th floors, hopes to be an oasis for visitors and office tenants alike. The link connecting the old and new Gaysorn buildings is the highlight of the whole space: a bridge featuring a 20m-tall cocoon-like structure made of teak, visible even from the street.
“The cocoon is kind of an iconic feature, as well as a [symbol for the] philosophy of the space, which is an incubator for creativity,” said Lim. “We hope this will become the symbol of the whole development.”
Feeling that Bangkok’s commercial district is a vibrant place full of very large-scale projects and mega-malls, Lim states that, in the end, people will visit for the craftsmanship, for the food, and for the local designs.
“I hope that Gaysorn Village will combine all these elements, but in a very contemporary context, so that it brings a needed jewel to the middle of the commercial district,” he said. “It’s something more boutique, more artisanal, more crafted. I think that maybe it’s one aspect that’s lacking in the centre of the city. Although it’s not a big project, I hope that all of these added together will create a new energy for the place.”
With new buildings and projects popping up like mushrooms all over the city, Lim gives some heed to architects reshaping the cityscape.
“I think Bangkok is like every city,” he said. “There are a lot of people building these very iconic structures, and it becomes kind of a gimmick. I really feel architects have a responsibility for what they’re building. It’s not like when you finish [the project], that’s not the end of the building. That’s the beginning of the building. It’ll sit in a city for the next 50 years, so I feel it’s important that architects respect a city. They have to love a city to do a project there.”
Cool Features that we know about sofar
1. Drinking and dining venues
Though the mall is still working up contracts for new and exciting restaurants, one UK chain is definitely confirmed to launch in Gaysorn Village. Burger & Lobster is set to open this March on the ground floor of the original Gaysorn Plaza.
2. World-class health and wellness facilities
The 9th to 12th floor of Gaysorn Tower will be filled to the brim with high-end health and wellness centres. One brand that has already signed on is Panpuri. The Panpuri Wellness Retreat will take up 1,000m² of one floor, with facilities including world-class spas. The zone is to be completed this September.
3. Gaysorn Tower central facilities
The 19th and 20th floors of Gaysorn Tower, named the Gaysorn Urban Resort, will provide an Outdoor Greenery Sky Garden, a 3,000m² space where patrons can wind down from a busy day. The 19th floor also houses the Gaysorn Crystal Box, a meeting and seminar space offering a 270-degree panoramic view of the city below. The zone is to be completed this September.
4. Ratchaprasong Walk
Walking around Ratchaprasong will get even easier as Gaysorn Village gets closer to completion. The walkway, to be completed this March, will link 18 buildings, offering a strategic shortcut from Gaysorn and Amarin Plaza to the Pratunam area.
5. Convenient online services
Gaysorn’s new website, www.gaysornvillage.com, is offering new services, such as an interactive online concierge offering food, wine and watch experts. Willing to answer any question about wine is sommelier Thawat Sarakong, and for watches, it’s Dr Pramote Rienjaroensuk.