Bangkok Central Embassy
© Hufton + Crow

Bangkok Central Embassy

AL_A (Amanda Levete Architects) as Architects


AL_A, the architecture practice headed by RIBA Stirling Prize-winning architect Amanda Levete, has completed Central Embassy, a striking 37 floor tall retail, leisure and hotel tower in central Bangkok for Central Group, Thailand’s leading retailer and department store operator.

Central Embassy brings a distinguishing new silhouette in the city, one that opens out both to the street and the skyline, and extends an invitation to the people of Bangkok and the world beyond.

Located within the former gardens of the British Embassy, along Ploenchit Road, Bangkok’s primary commercial artery, the 1.5 million sq ft mixed use project merges a seven storey luxury retail podium and a 27 storey five star Park Hyatt hotel tower into a cohesive, architectural entity. The tower is the first to be completed by a British architect in Thailand.

The hotel and shopping mall are bound together using the notion of a continual looped form to give a more intuitive merging between plinth and tower and between the programmes. The continuity of the tower line appears to break down the volume of the mass of the plinth, creating a structure that is asymmetrical in all dimensions.

The openness of the form embraces the city and sets up reciprocal views, with a series of terraces outside and balconies within to see and be seen. The elevated form that rises from the podium wraps around two vertical light wells, opening up internal spaces to reveal stepped terraces, and dividing hotel functions: private guest-related programmes face the gardens of Nai Lert Park, while the hotel bar, reception lounge and sky terrace face the city centre.

Uniting traditional craftsmanship with digital design technologies, the design of the façade builds on Thailand’s tradition of intricate pattern making. The exterior is clad in 300,000 aluminium tiles, each with two surfaces to reflect both the chaos of the city and the sky itself. Creating a dynamic pattern in response to external conditions, the distribution of tiles creates a moiré-like effect, articulated by the play of light and reflection along the varying profiles.

Amanda Levete, Principal of AL_A, said: “Central Embassy goes to the heart of what makes Bangkok such an extraordinary place. By embracing advanced technology as well as local heritage and culture, the building is local to its surrounding yet simultaneously redefines the location. A distinctive new presence on the skyline that is both fresh and exciting, Central Embassy nonetheless feels like it has always belonged here, already a valued part of the city.”

The completion of Central Embassy comes in anticipation of the opening of AL_A’s Exhibition Road Quarter for the Victoria & Albert Museum on 30 June. This major international moment will reveal the Museum’s most significant architectural intervention in over 100 years, including a new entrance, the world’s first porcelain-tiled courtyard, as well as one of the largest temporary exhibition spaces in Europe, spanning 38 metres.


Located within the gardens of the British Embassy along Ploenchit Road, Bangkok’s primary commercial artery, the 1.5 million sq ft project merges a 7 storey luxury retail podium and a 30 storey 5 star hotel tower into a cohesive and sinuously twisting shape. The remarkable form wraps around two vertical light wells as internal spaces open up to reveal stepped terraces and vertical gardens. It rises up from the podium façade dividing hotel functions; private guest-related programs face the tranquil gardens of Lai Nert Park, while the hotel bar, reception lounge and sky terrace face the bright lights of the city centre. Drawing on motifs and patterns found in traditional Thai architecture, the external skin is characterized by an assembly of extruded aluminium tiles, to create a dynamic pattern in response to external conditions. The distribution of tiles creates a moiré-like pattern, articulated by the play of light and reflection along the surfaces of these varying profiles. This rich and stimulating pattern visually emphasizes the wrapping form of the building as well as providing scale and texture to the extensive opaque frontage at podium level. All glazed areas are designed to merge seamlessly with the aluminium skin. The building blurs boundaries between diametrically opposing elements: tower & plinth, façade & roof, local craftsmanship & digital technology, Thai tradition & contemporary design. By embracing advanced technology as well as drawing on local heritage and culture, Bangkok Central Embassy is an articulation of the search for a perceptive and contemporary architectural language. It is a design that is local to its surrounding and simultaneously redefines the location.

Park Hyatt Bangkok

Yabu Pushelberg as Designers

Central Embassy completes its loop of infinite possibilities With the unveiling of Park Hyatt Bangkok “This brings me here” campaign unites a diverse set of Creative personalities at this world destination

Central Group, Thailand’s leading retailer and department store operator, cements its world-­‐class position with the completion of Central Embassy, “The Retail Beacon of Bangkok”. The iconic complex includes three major anchor zones and the opening of Park Hyatt Bangkok, Thailand's first premium hotel under the prestigious Park Hyatt brand, which launched on May 12 with an overall grand celebration on May 18.

Chief Executive Officer of Central Department Store Group, Yuwadee Chirathivat, states, “Under our ‘centrality’ philosophy, we aim to be the center of the city and of urban life. No matter where we are, we promote the Thai quality of life, introducing facilities and convenience to businesses in various areas, as we are more than a department store. We’re the center of all, for all.”

Central Group's position as the top Thai retailer has been secured since the first Central Department Store, Central Wang Burapha, opened 70 years ago. The name travels beyond borders as Central Group has today become a leading Southeast Asian retailer, with ownership of a number of luxury department stores in Europe, including La Rinascente in Italy; Illum in Denmark; and Alsterhaus, Oberpollinger and KaDeWe in Germany. In 2014, Central Embassy was unveiled to complement Central Chidlom, a beloved destination for Thai and foreign shoppers. The strategic advantage of Central Embassy lies in its prime location – at the Ploenchit and Wireless junction – further enhancing a neighborhood surrounded by premium residences, businesses and tourist attractions.

"Our vision doesn’t stop here. We continue to look into the future and find ways to expand the horizons of Central Embassy to great lengths in both the local community and the global stage. We are working harder to make it appeal to an ever-­‐widening clientele for generations to come,” says Managing Director of Central Embassy, Barom Bhicharnchitr.

The infinity-­‐shaped Central Embassy building was designed by AL_A, the British architecture practice headed by RIBA Stirling Prize-­‐winning architect Amanda Levete. The tower has a total of 37 floors and is divided into two parts: the retail podium housing the eight-­‐storey shopping center and the tower, which comprises Park Hyatt Bangkok. Both parts are designed to connect like an infinity symbol, a hint to its concept of “infinite possibilities”. With an iconic façade featuring over 300,000 unique shingles inspired by the roof of Thai temples and fitted with over 750 LED lights, the building’s design is a synonym for the luxurious experience that now describes the entire neighborhood.

Adding to the magnetic dynamism of Central Embassy is the opening of new innovative zones including Open House (a community living room designed by KDa), SIWILAI CITY CLUB (a new social club hangout designed by Yabu Pushelberg) and the expanded Eathai (an epicenter for Thai cuisine). Offering an unparalleled lifestyle experience that builds upon the group’s peerless retail heritage, Central Embassy continues to serve as a hub for both Thai and international visitors, indulging global shoppers with an inspiring selection of fashion, lifestyle, food, music, art and design.

The latest addition to complete Central Embassy’s crown jewel is Park Hyatt Bangkok. Sitting on top of the complex, with interiors designed by Yabu Pushelberg, guests are promised a new level of luxury hotel experience with standard rooms among the largest in the city at over 48 square meters. The dining and entertainment venues include the Living Room, the Embassy Room and The Bar, while the dynamic Penthouse Bar & Grill on the uppermost Levels 34–36, designed by New York-­‐based firm Avroko, boasts one of the best ways to view Bangkok from above. Other facilities include a luxury spa and a 40-­‐meter outdoor pool overlooking the British Embassy gardens, as well as function rooms including the 570-­‐square-­‐meter ballroom.

In celebration of the completion, Central Embassy introduces “This brings me here” – a marketing campaign aimed to reinforce the brand’s status as an iconic lifestyle destination in central Bangkok. The concept echoes the reality why many people choose to experience Central Embassy despite all the alternatives available in Thailand. Its architectural design, unique retail experience and exceptional service are blended together to form Central Embassy’s identity. Fronting the campaign is top Asian model and actress, Kiko Mizuhara, who is flying in to participate in the opening festivities.

Dressed in their best black tie and eveningwear attire, guests from all over the world congregate at the new center of Bangkok to witness a light show spectacle, while JEEB Bangkok and Philharmonic Orchestra adds a special orchestral performance to commemorate this historical milestone for Central Group.

As guests are ushered in to witness the unveiling of Park Hyatt Bangkok, new discoveries can be found throughout the entire property. An abundance of culinary delights and entertainment have been specially prepared including live performances by Grammy award winning R&B artists, Robert Glasper Trio and Estelle, demonstrating Central Embassy’s mission to connect people together and build a community.

Continuing its track record of creative installations from last year’s 1600 Pandas and KAWS:BFF, Central Embassy is proud to present an interactive installation The Beach by New York-­‐based collective studio Snarkitecture. Exhibited for the first time in Asia, the ground floor atrium of Central Embassy is transformed into a temporary artificial beach filled with over 250,000 recyclable, white antimicrobial plastic balls, where guests are invited to jump in and interact with the installation. This extraordinary setting will be shown from May 18 to June 30, 2017.

Last but not least, the celebration continues with a series of workshops, including a session with Mr. Benjamin Porto from Snarkitecture who will share the design concept of The Beach on May 19. Additional events at Open House include a talk with Klein Dytham Architecture (KDa), a movie talk by TerNawapol, a hand-­‐pull screen print workshop by The Archivist, an illustration workshop by Sunday Kids, an origami workshop by PHANNAPAT, a ceramic marbling workshop by Pomme Chan, and many more.

Samrit Chirathivat, Central Group’s Founder, once said: Our success grew out of our determination to bring Thailand into the modern world. We are committed to contributing to its prosperity and enhancing the quality of life of its entire people.

The completion of Central Embassy is another milestone in achieving this vision of elevating Thailand to a new world, for the sake of the country and all Thais.

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