A newly renovated retail center in Thailand will change everything you think you know about shopping malls. From the outside, Siam Discovery in Bangkok doesn’t look all that different from other modern urban structures, with its stacked box design and shiny exterior. However, just one peek inside will urge you to leave all other expectations and assumptions at the door. Japanese architecture firm nendo designed the building’s reconstruction, inside and out, turning this five-story shopping center into a wonderland of geometric shapes, light-filled atriums, and posh fixtures.
The previous design of the retail center, with its deep layout and narrow entry, created problems for the traffic flow of pedestrians, which is one thing a shopping center does not want. The architecture and design firm was called in to help, with the new design addressesing the previous issues by extending the circular atriums throughout and creating a canyon-like path stretching nearly 200 feet to the back of the building.
Along one side of the atrium, a series of 220 frame-shaped boxes hold video monitors, digital signs, and displays of merchandise, which together create a unique and innovative ‘directory’ of sorts for the five-story department store. The design team at nendo devised a double-skinned facade to protect the interior from the sun, creating a tranquil shopping experience. The patterns on the facade echo the “stacked box” installation in the atrium.
The overall theme for the interior design is unusual for a retail center. The designers call it a “Lifestyle Laboratory,” using motifs in 13 locations around the sales floor featuring laboratory equipment such as beakers, flasks, and test tubes, as well as diagrams of molecular structures, nucleotide DNA sequences, microscopes, and amoeba. Despite the sanitized air of the lab schema, the space maintains a relaxing feel which just might inspire visitors to spend a little more money than they intended.
Images via Takumi Ota