18 April 2007

19 ASA-NET: Open House

Last November, ASA (The Association of Siamese Architects, Under Royal Patronage - an institution that promotes architect's profession in Thailand) organized a competition to renovate its old headquater. The present headquater is a big building built around 15 years ago, located in the area where it is impossible to reach because of Bangkok world-renowned traffic jam. The idea of the compettion is to transform the old headquater which is a small shophouse in the heart of Bangkok to become a 'city' office of ASA for younger generation of ASA members who live their lives in the city along the Sky Train system.

I was invited to be one of the 8 jury members. The first round the jury members selected 3 entries out of almost 60 submissions. The the three finalists had to make a presentation to the jury members. I was in a bit difficult position because two among the three selected were the ones I know very well - Polawat is a senior friend of mine whom I knew since my high school years and Sorawis who was by then part-time allzoner. Anyway, the deliberation process went very smooth and transparent. Thanks to all the very sensitive and intelligent jury members. (It was also my good experience to be in the jury team.)

The winning project is 'Open House' by Sorawit (our Sora here). Very simple, sincere and radical scheme.
The idea is to reflect and react with the position of architect profession in our society where very few people understand what architects do and why they have to hire architects. Sorawit's scheme is to 'Open' the place of architects to the public - at least the people passing by. To have the whole building very visible if there is any activities and to add a program of a small coffee bar for ASA members, guests of members or anybody who just wants to stop by as if it is an ordinary public place. The space of the whole project tends to be very relaxing to meet with the young member's lifestyle who might use the place as their living room or meeting room.







The architectural concept is to superimpose several programs upon the requirements into the same space, different time.
It resloves into a central high-ceiling outdoor space as a mulit-purpose space.









Another space that has this superiposition of programs is the main circulation leading from the ground floor to the main multi-purpose space. It could be an exhibition space, an imformal seminar/lecture room, or simply a social space for party and coffee.



The most interesting thing for me during the jury session was the discussion we had among the jury members. The three final schemes were totally different in their approach.

The one of Polawat is very up-to-date kind of building that you would see when you flip through a glossy magazine of architecture. Although very nice, it gives you a message that young thai architects are going into a trendy direction. While the winning scheme is very simple and does not indicate a clear direction of architectural language. Before knowing the names of the three, we thought that Polawat's trendy scheme must be from a very young architect, while the winning one could be from a more mature architect. But actually, it is the other way around. :O

One of the jury members, Smith Obayawat, gave an interesting observation that perhaps the younger generation like Sorawit of the winning scheme has been exposed to these 'cool' architecture in the magazines since they began their study, so they are no longer excited with anything trendy. What reflect from the winning scheme is rather a pause moment of 'searching' contemporary architectural language of our own.

I really hope it is so. Since they, this generation is the future. The future is bright, the future is soon....

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

cool! I like the project!

jump said...

i agree with k. Smith Obayawat. in my generation, cool architecture isn't a trendy one but many are still finding it in old way. may be it's our education system that made us a frog that never reach da pond outside.

aj.aon said...

jump, i am very happy with your comments. :)

Anonymous said...

i like the exterior rendering. it looks like a void in between a continuous row of shophouses, sort of dematerialization approach.
sometimes a void can speak louder than a mass. nice...

are they going to build this?

chai

Anonymous said...

hey chai, sor is working on permission and construction drawiings. the building should be completed by early next year. - p'aon

Anonymous said...

cool. this will encourage more people to participate in local competitions!

chai